Companion Cube – modular, snap-together, colorized

Author: Ellindsey, published on 2013-10-31

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This is an experimental piece, mostly a design challenge to myself to work on techniques for making complex snap-together multi-part models.

The goals of the design were as follows:

Game-accurate color with all colors due to the intrinsic color of the plastic and no painting required.

No directional bias in the assembled piece, such as you see with all-one-piece cubes with different finish on the sides versus top due to the nature of the print process. This means each corner, edge, and face piece is indivudually printed flat on the bed.

No unavoidable seams. The only seams between pieces are at borders between one color and another.

All snap-together, with no glue required. Revised version posted now really holds together well.

As a result of these goals this is a fairly complex print, with 40 parts that need to be snapped together in a specific order.

This Companion Cube is separated into parts for each color – white, grey, and pink – as well as separate parts for each corner, edge, and face. There are 5 different shapes, and a total of 40 parts which need to be printed.

It should hold together securely without needing glue, although you can use glue when assembling it if you wish. You may also print in white or clear and then paint all the parts if you don’t have the appropriate colors.

Completely revised design posted 11/7 – revised many parts to eliminate weak spots and make it hold together with no glue.


Print 6 each of the white and the pink face pieces.
Print 8 each of the grey and the white corner pieces.
Print 12 each of the white edge pieces.

Clean up any stray strings, drooping bits, etc. The inside of the grey corner pieces and the white face pieces especially need to be free of blobs and strings.

Press one white face piece onto each pink face piece. Depending on your printer you may have to shave the inside of the heart outline on the white piece to get this to snap together cleanly. The four white tabs are kind of fragile and may break, but they don’t matter much and you can lose one or two of them and still have the white and pink pieces hold together snugly.

Press one white corner piece through each grey corner piece. If you have no strings or blobs they should fit snugly together.

Take two of the corner assemblies and join them together with an edge piece. The tabs on the white edge pieces snap into the sockets on the white corner pieces, and hold the grey corner pieces in place as they do. Repeat this step three more times, so you have four joined corner pairs.

Take two corner pairs, one face assembly, and two edge pieces. Use the edge pieces to join the two corner pair assemblies together into a face, with the face assembly sandwiched between them. Do this one more time with the other two corner pairs.

Finally take the remaining four face assemblies and edge pieces and use them to join the two assemblies from the previous step together. This step is a bit tricky as it requires you to push the four edge pins into one of the assemblies with the four face pieces sandwiched between them. I found that the easiest way to do this is to push the edge pieces in partway, tilted out away from the center slightly. You can then insert the face pieces between them, and then push each edge in the rest of the way, making sure the pink tabs on the face pieces fit into the small slot in the center of each edge piece.

You can then push the other assembly from the previous place onto the open side of the pins and snap the entire thing together.

License: Creative Commons – Attribution

Tags: chell, companion_cube, portal, valve