The Iris Door

automated high tech escape room iris door in fort collins

Ever since the premiere of our new Plight of the Margo escape room, we've had a lot of interest in the mechanics we used for it. Namely, the Iris Door (pictured left). One of the reasons we decided to open an escape room business in the first place was to have the opportunity to share creative and clever ideas that fellow puzzle-lovers and problem solvers would appreciate.

We're excited to introduce the Iris Door, one of ConTRAPtions newest tech novelties. It showcases 12 linear guide-mounted leaves, moving under the direction of a cam plate turned by a motor. The iris is a classic pairing of linear and circular mechanics, combining to create geometry in motion that is simply beautiful. Our escape rooms feature this kind of industrial motion control that both Fort Collins natives and visitors from afar can interact with and enjoy. The high tech automation built into the escape rooms is our mark, and truly brings the experience to life. How do we do it? By combining the mechanical innovation of our in house Mechaneer and the creative input of his wife Abigail. Between the two of them and a staff of dedicated escape room ConTRAPtioneers, we manage to come up with some pretty cool ideas and bring them to life for the world to experience.

Getting Started

Main Components

  1. Leaf / Cam plate material - 1/2" Vycom textured designboard HDPE
  2. Base / Gear Rack / Sprocket Material, 1" Marine Starboard HDPE
  3. Motor Mounts: 1" Vycom smooth HDPE
  4. Linear Guides Used - Misumi SSXW33 Linear Bearings
  5. Leaf Cam Followers - McGill CYR 3/4S
  6. Drive Motor - Pacific Scientific Nema 42 stepper motor

The main components listed on the left are recommended but not necessarily required. Not sure where to start? You don't necessarily need to invest in a bunch of expensive equipment. If you're just starting out or don't feel like doing it all on your own Fort Collins has several up and coming maker spaces to help foster your creativity.


You'll want to purchase or download software that is used for CAD. Some options include TinkerCAD, Solidworks, and AutoCAD. If you're on a budget there are plenty of opensource choices such as 3D Builder, LibreCAD, and Draft Design among many others.

Feel free to download this example DXF file as a starting point. These drawings are by no means a finished product but are meant to point would-be builders in the right direction.