General Questions


Spread the word! If you've had an enjoyable experience printing with us then please tell your friends and colleagues! Similarly, if you've had a bad experience please let us know so that we can offer better service going forward.
Yes! Generally speaking, we hire a few new technicians every semester. If you're interested, please send your CV and a brief personal statement (telling us about your experience, why you'd like to get involved, etc.) to aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca with the subject line "Student Tech Applicant." We will be considering students from all faculties.

Additionally, we're really looking forward to adding to our 3D scanning capability. If you're interested in learning more in this area and will be in Montreal for summer 2017, please send your CV and a brief personal statement (see above) to aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca with the subject line "3D-Scanning Tech Applicant." We will be considering students from all faculties.
This is a very new service, and we love to hear feedback! If you have a comment (positive or negative) as to how we're doing, or how we could improve, please send us an email at aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca.
The AML (Additive Manufacturing Lab) is a 3D printing hub associated with The Cube. The AML is supplied by McGill's Department of Mechanical Engineering (who have purchased the machines using the Engineering undergraduate funding), and is serviced by students primarily from the Faculty of Engineering.

The main purpose of the AML is to contribute to undergraduate education. Our technicians work closely with teaching assistants from the MECH 360 (Principles of Manufacturing) and MECH 289 (Design Graphics) courses to deliver additive manufacturing tutorials to undergraduate students. As a result, please note that course-related prints will get priority in our print queue.

For most of the semester however, the AML functions as a 3D-printing hub for students and researchers!

The AML is located in room MD264, in the MacDonald Engineering Building. Feel free to drop by, we'd love to help you with your next 3D printing project!
The Cube is a student-organized, student-operated 3D printing service at McGill University. Launched in January 2016, we offer 3D printing and consultation services to students and researchers across the McGill community.

The Cube operates through different hubs across campus. The aim of the services is to make the 3D printing resources already at McGill University (and there are lots of them!) more accessible to students.

If you are a student group or researcher and are interested in joining our network, please see the "Can I add my printer to The Cube network?" FAQ. We'll be in touch with you shortly!

We're always looking to add new capabilities to The Cube network - feel free to contact us if you have an idea!
Yes we do! A list of our hubs, as well as location and contact information, can be found below:

  • Additive Manufacturing Lab, located in MD264 (Macdonald Engineering building). aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca
  • IEEE McNaughton Centre, located in MC 543 (McConnell Engineering building). michael.verrecchia@mail.mcgill.ca
If you are a student group or researcher interested in making additive manufacturing technology more accessible to students, please contact us at aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca. We'll be in touch with you soon to talk about adding you to The Cube network!

Why would you want to add your device to our network? Operating your machine part-time as part of a student service is a great way for your technicians to become more experienced with 3D printing technology. Take it from us, more operator experience will lead to better print quality and less wasted material when it comes to producing parts for your research / student organization. Additionally, the income you generate from Cube prints can pay for material and labor costs.

If your printer was acquired as part of a grant, please note that there may be restrictions on its use (e.g. it may be specified that the machine can only be used for research work). If you are interested in joining the network, please be aware of these restrictions before contacting us.
We will be operating from May through July, though with reduced staffing. Orders may take a little longer than usual, but as always if you have an urgent print or need more information please do not hesitate to contact aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca! Office hours will not be held in the summer, but feel free to get in touch and schedule a consultation with a technician.

3D Printing


3D printing is a method of additive manufacturing that produces prototype parts in a short amount of time with little to no waste. The 3D printing technology we possess can produce parts faster and for a much lower cost compared to traditional (subtractive) manufacturing methods.

Please note that 3D printed parts are primarily used for demonstration purposes only. If you are designing a load-bearing part, please consult the material data sheets available on the "Order" page and incorporate a large factor of safety. We take no responsibility for damage caused due to the failure of a 3D printed part.
Yes! Feel free to drop by the lab throughout the day to speak to a technician in person (actually its best if you send an email first, just to let us know you're coming). We generally offer 15-20 minutes of free advice on your design, material selection, etc.

If you do decide to place an order with us, further consultation on your design does result in a small consultation fee. Please see the "What is your pricing scheme?" FAQ for more details.
We currently operate three FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) printers. With FDM printing, layers are deposited in succession by a nozzle, and the part is constructed "from the ground up."

This year, we added to our fleet a SLA (stereolithography) machine, the Form2 printer from FormLabs. Stereolithography machines print using a resin bed, curing successive "layers" of resign with UV light. This technology can print more intricate designs than FDM, and generally does not require support material for complex shapes (as would be the case with FDM printing).

Unfortunately, our FDM machines cannot print with support material.
Here are some suggestions for designing your part for FDM printing:

  • Holes: For best quality, print your holes slightly oversized (0.020" on the diameter) and drill them out after printing. See the "What options exist for post-processing my part?" FAQ for more information.
  • Spans: If you want to print spans without support material, don't make them larger than 1cm.
  • Wall thickness: Technically speaking, the minimum wall thickness a printer can achieve is about 0.6-0.8 mm. However, for durability we recommend 2-3 mm as the minimum wall thickness.
  • If your design can tolerate it, include a flat surface. This will make the job of orienting your part for 3D printing much easier, and will result in a more dimensionally stable part.
  • Be aware of the important surfaces on your part, and whether they will be affected by support material. For example, if you need smooth surface to perform aerodynamic testing, be sure to tell us to print this surface without support material attached. Keep in mind that overhangs greater than 50 degrees from vertical will require support material for dimensional stability.
For suggestions for designing your part for SLA printing, see FormLabs' "Design Specifications" page for the Form2 printer (coming soon):

http://formlabs.com/products/3d-printers/design-specs/
This is highly dependent on the design you are submitting. We've had prints range from 30 minutes to 55 hours!

Generally, print time is a function of the size of the part, the resolution, and the infill. Reducing resolution and infill will reduce print time, as there are fewer layers to be printed and the machine will spent less time printing each layer.

For "large" parts (bigger than 6" cubed build volume), we recommend submitting the part to us 72 hours in advance of your deadline.
Unfortunately, our student technicians are only able to work a limited number of hours during the semester. Removing support material from a print can be a time-consuming process - as a result, we generally don't remove support material in an effort to process more orders throughout the semester.

Don't worry, removing support material is easy! As we say on our "Orders" page, its not rocket science. Some useful tips for doing this yourself can be found in the "How to remove support material" FAQ.

If you're really unsure about removing support material yourself, please let us know in the comments box when you first place your order. We'll charge a small consultation fee and will remove the support material for you. See the "What's your pricing scheme?" FAQ for more information.

If you'd like us to start removing support material by default, please contact your EUS reps and let them know you'd like to see The Cube hire more student technicians!
First of all, be gentle! Most support material pops right off, but if a piece can't be removed easily don't force it. Some useful tools for removing support material include:

  • Putty knife (for removing the base material, called a "raft"
  • X-Acto knife
  • Needlenose pliers / tweezers
  • Sandpaper
With these tools and a little patience you should have no problems removing support material yourself. If a support feature is proving especially difficult to remove, come see us in MD264 and we'll help you out.
People have come up with some really creative ways to spice up their 3D printed parts. Some post-processing methods include sanding, tapping holes, and finishing parts with paint / lacquer. You can even friction weld parts together using a Dremel and some spare filament!

A great guide for finishing 3D printed parts can be found at http://blog.fictiv.com/posts/ultimate-guide-to-finishing-3d-printed-parts. However, the Internet is a pretty wild place - feel free to search around to find other suggestions.
We offer design / CAD consultation services to students and researchers across campus. This service will be very similar to the peer tutoring services currently offered by the Faculty of Engineering.

Please note that this service will depend on the availability of Cube technicians. Contact us for more info!
The MarkOne composite printer is a dual-extrusion machine - one nozzle extrudes nylon, while the second nozzle extrudes fiber (carbon fiber, Kevlar, or fiberglass). When printing a composite part, the printer will lay the fiber down within a nylon "matrix" along a predetermined path.

This means that when we say your part material is "CFF - Carbon Fiber," what we really mean is "your part is made of nylon with a specified amount of carbon fiber inlay"

If you would like the ability to control where we put fiber in your part, please let us know - we'll set you up with a temporary account to Eiger.io, MarkForged's cloud-based software for processing composite parts. Please note that we strongly advise you read their "Support" section (available after login) before modifying your composite part.
We will do everything we can to meet the deadline you specify when submitting an order. When specifying a deadline, please be aware of the print queue on the relevant machine (listed in the rightmost column on the "Orders" page), and the fact that course-funded prints get priority in the print queue (see the "Ok, so what / where is the AML?" FAQ for more information). We will let you know when you place your order whether we will be able to meet your deadline, but we generally cannot guarantee anything less than 48 hours.

If we start to process your order and are unable to meet your deadline, you will only be charged for the parts that we have printed by the time the deadline expires. We will deliver the rest of the parts to you free of charge.
We're planning to really expand our 3D printing / scanning abilities this summer!

3D printing: We'll have two additional printers available this Fall, an Ultimaker 2+ Extended FDM printer (https://ultimaker.com/en/products/ultimaker-2-plus#Ultimaker-2-Extended+) and a FormLabs Form2 SLA printer (http://formlabs.com/products/3d-printers/form-2/). These two machines will add a host of abilities to our lab, including smaller achievable feature size and the ability print in flexible, tough, and high-temperature resistant material!

3D scanning: This summer we're going to be training our technicians on the 3D scanning equipment found under the "Equipment" tab (see banner). This will give us the ability to reverse-engineer components and will also allow us to give course-related tutorials on the technology.

3D design services: Starting next fall The Cube will be offering CAD consultation services for students and researchers. Please note that these services will depend on technician availability. See the "I have a great idea, but don't know how to CAD it. Can you help me?" FAQ for more information.
Compared to conventional machining, FDM 3D printing is not a very accurate process. Exact numbers on bulk dimensional tolerance are difficult to find, but in our experience we typically expect no better than +-0.003 in./in. For example, this means that if you're printing a 3" cube, expect no better than +- 0.009 in. tolerance on any given side.

Often 3D printer tech specs will quote the minimum achievable layer size, as well as the XY positioning precision. Neither of these figures are a reflection of the bulk dimensional tolerance the printer can achieve. For more information on the distinction between resolution, tolerance, accuracy, and repeatability in 3D printing, please see http://machinedesign.com/3d-printing/accuracy-additive-manufacturing.
All polymers have a "deflection temperature," which is a temperature lower than the melting point at which the material starts to deform. If you're making a high-temperature mould, or some other load-bearing part operating at elevated temperature, this information will be very important in your design.

A useful resource on the heat deflection temperature of some of the plastics we print with can be found here: http://www.matweb.com/reference/deflection-temperature.aspx.

Placing / picking up / paying for orders


Welcome to The Cube! To place an order, first select the "Orders" tab, then enter your personal information (name, email, and status). See the "When placing an order, what's my "status"?" FAQ for more information.

Next, select your material. Click on the material name to get a data sheet. If you are looking to have parts printed in multiple materials (e.g. 2 parts in PLA, one part in nylon), please submit one order per material type

Next, upload your .STL. If you have multiple parts, please compress them into a ZIP folder and submit that.

In the text box below the file upload space, feel free to give us any special instructions regarding your order. Mention your preferred material colour, part quantity, any important deadlines, etc. The print queue associated with each printer is displayed in the rightmost column of the printer selection table. Please consider this queue time when specifying a deadline for your order.

Finally, select your resolution and infill parameters. Resolution corresponds to the height of the individual printed layers. The higher the resolution, the thinner the layers. Infill is the material printed inside the part to support the exterior layers. For dimensional stability, we generally do not recommend selecting an infill below 15%

Go ahead and agree to our terms and conditions, then submit your order! We'll be in touch with a quote shortly.
You can inspect your order when picking it up at CopiEUS - at this time you have the option to either accept or reject the order. If you are not satisfied with your parts (for reasons of print quality, material selection, etc.), leave the defective parts with CopiEUS and please send an email to the lab (aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca). We'll get in touch quickly and will work with you toward a successful order!
All the printing software in our lab works with STL (stereolithography) files. You can convert your CAD model to an STL file by simply clicking "File - Save as... - STL."

If you are submitting multiple STL files, compress them in either a ZIP or RAR file before submitting. Be sure to specify the quantity of each part you want printed in the comments box!

If you want parts printed in two or more different materials (e.g. 2 parts in PLA, 1 part in nylon), please submit a separate order for each material type. The ability to submit multi-material orders will be added to the site later this year.

One final note - there are several databases online with creative parts that people have designed (MakerBot's Thingiverse is a good example). If you've found a part that you'd like to print with us, and you've verified that the file type is compatible with our printers, simply ZIP the file and submit it on the site. Common formats are .thing and .makerbot.
At The Cube our pricing scheme consists of two components - print time and material consumed. Our price for the print time component is regressive, meaning you won't pay twice the amount for a 24hr print that you would for a 12hr print. For materials, we charge a small markup per gram on the parts we produce.

Good ways to reduce the price of your order are to decrease the resolution (which lowers the print time) and decrease the infill (which lowers the print time and the material consumed). We generally don't advise dropping below 15% infill, as this will start to affect the quality of the part.

We will occasionally charge a small consultation fee based on the size and complexity of your order, and whether the order takes especially long to prepare (beyond the usual 30 min the technicians spend on each order). When applied, this fee is typically $5 per order and will never be more than $20 per order.

The goal of this student service is to be self-sustaining - this is NOT a for-profit service. Our prices are set such that we can afford to pay our technicians and set aside a small amount to pay for repairs, lab tools, new machines, etc.

One final note - quoted prices above $300 are negotiable. If this occurs we'll be in touch!
Once your order has been marked as complete ("ready for pickup" at CopiEUS), we will prohibit you from placing new orders until the initial order has been paid for. If this occurs while you are performing work on behalf of a researcher or student group, all members of the given research team or student group will be prohibited from placing new orders until the initial order has been paid for.
When placing an order, we ask for your "status" to determine the order type. Your options are:

  • Student: Any order placed by a McGill student for personal or academic use, including course projects.
  • Researcher: Any order placed by a member of a McGill group with the purpose of contributing to research work.
  • Design Team: Any order placed by a member of a recognized design team at McGill.
  • Course Funded (MECH 289/360): Any order placed by a student of the MECH 289 or MECH 360 courses as part of a project for these courses.
  • Other: Any order placed by someone outside of the McGill community who does not fall into one of the above categories.
We offer a 15% discount for Design Team orders. Please note that, given the way we process payments internally, the design team must have an internal account with EUS for this to occur.
You can pick up your order at CopiEUS, the student-run copy service located on the ground floor of the McConnell Engineering building. They're open 9-5 on weekdays.

Please note that if we mark your order as complete ("ready for pickup") over the weekend, then it will be available for pickup by noon the following Monday.
When picking up your order at CopiEUS you have the option of paying with credit, debit, or cash.

As a student-run service operating under the EUS, we are unable to offer the ability to pay using FOAPAL accounts.
After you've placed an order with us (see the "How do I place an order?" FAQ for more info), a technician will evaluate your file to assess whether it is ready for 3D printing. If there's an issue with the file, he / she will be in touch with you asap.

Once we've assessed your model we will generate a detailed price quote and send it to you via email. Click the serialized link and enter your email address to automatically approve the quote and proceed with the order (if you're unable to view the link, see the "I can't find my confirmation link. Did you send it?" FAQ for more information). If you're unhappy with your price quote, please contact us - keep in mind that, for larger orders (generally over $300), prices are negotiable.

At this point we will process your order. Please note that the the queue times listed on the "Orders" page are approximate, however if we've accepted your order that means we've agreed to meet your specified deadline (see the "Will you meet my deadline?" FAQ for more information).

You will receive an email notification once your order has successfully printed and is ready for pickup at CopiEUS, located in the lobby area of the McConnell Engineering Building. Please see the other FAQs in this section for more information on pickup and payment.
After we've evaluated your order and prepared a price quote we send you two emails. The first email contains a serialized auto-confirmation link, which you click to approve your order. Due to McGill's spam filters, this email typically gets routed to your junk mail folder. Because of this, we send a second email (with no link) advising you to check your junk folder.

We've brought this issue up with McGill IT, and sending two emails is just a temporary solution. Next semester we'll be within the McGill network, meaning we should only have to send out one email containing both the price quote and the confirmation link!

If you've checked your junk folder and are still unable to find the confirmation link, please email us - we'll resend the email containing the confirmation link directly from the Cube account.

3D Scanning


Please contact us at aml.mecheng@mcgill.ca to arrange an appointment with our FARO Arm technician.