3D Modeling: Elegant Pieces in OpenSCAD with rcube(), rcylinder() and chainhull()


  • 2020/12/31: rcube() extended, RCUBE_FLAT{BOTTOM, TOP, FRONT, BACK, LEFT, RIGHT} support added, rcylinder() with RCYLINDER_FLAT{TOP, BOTTOM}
  • 2020/12/30: rcube() source code extended, support RCUBE_FLATX, RCUBE_FLATY, RCUBE_FLATZ
  • 2020/12/28: inital post

While working on Ashtar D (Classic XY) I looked at some pieces I rushed to design with cube() and hull() and they didn’t appeal to me – yes, it kind of hurt my eyes.

A while back I coded a simple rcube([x,y,z],r) which takes r as a radius for the edges, internally it’s an OpenSCAD module which uses 8 spheres and hulls them together, providing round edges; but I hesitated to actually use it in my designs – until now. Further I thought, let’s do the same with cylinder() using rcylinder(d=10,h=5,r=1) providing round edges by using two torii and hull them together.

These two new functions, rcube([x,y,z],r) and rcylinder(h,d,r) allow to create more organic and elegant pieces, see for yourself:

From Bulky To Elegance

The position of the Y pulley mount is given, a bit of an X- & Y-offset to ensure printable area is not sacrificed for the Y carriage:

Using Chained Hulls

And another example . . . replacing hull() with chainhull():

The final version is composed by only 3 pieces chain hulled together:

difference() {
   chainhull() {
      translate([0,0,-20]) rcube(...);
      translate([...,-60]) rcube([5,20,50],2); // 2020 mount plate
   rcube(...);     // pulley cutout

rcube() & rcylinder()

translate([5,0,0]) rcube(0.75);
translate([10,0,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2);

translate([0,2,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,false);
translate([5,2,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,true);

translate([0,4,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATX);
translate([5,4,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATY);
translate([10,4,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATZ);

translate([0,6,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATBOTTOM);
translate([5,6,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATTOP);

translate([0,8,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATFRONT);
translate([5,8,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATBACK);

translate([0,10,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATLEFT);
translate([5,10,0]) rcube([2,1,1],0.2,RCUBE_FLATRIGHT);

translate([0+1,14,0]) rcylinder(3,1.5,0.2);
translate([3+1,14,0]) rcylinder(3,1.5,0.2,false);
translate([6+1,14,0]) rcylinder(3,1.5,0.2,RCYLINDER_FLATBOTTOM);
translate([9+1,14,0]) rcylinder(3,1.5,0.2,RCYLINDER_FLATTOP);

The library code (I might later release it as a separate library):

// Title: rcube(), rcylinder() & torus()
// Author: Rene K. Mueller
// License: MIT License 2020
// Version: 0.0.2

RCUBE_FLATX = [false,true,true];
RCUBE_FLATY = [true,false,true];
RCUBE_FLATZ = [true,true,false];
RCUBE_FLATBOTTOM = [false,false,false,false,true,true,true,true];
RCUBE_FLATTOP = [true,true,true,true,false,false,false,false];
RCUBE_FLATFRONT = [false,false,true,true,false,false,true,true];
RCUBE_FLATBACK = [true,true,false,false,true,true,false,false];
RCUBE_FLATLEFT = [false,true,true,false,false,true,true,false];
RCUBE_FLATRIGHT = [true,false,false,true,true,false,false,true];

module rcube(a=1,r=0.1,rd=[true,true,true],center=false,$fn=32) {
    else {
       x = len(a) ? a[0] : a;
       y = len(a) ? a[1] : a;
       z = len(a) ? a[2] : a;
       rd = len(rd) ? rd : [rd,rd,rd];

          if((len(rd)==3 && rd[0] && rd[1] && rd[2]) || (len(a)==0 && rd)) // rd=[true,true,true] or true
             hull() {
                translate([r,r,r]) sphere(r);
                translate([x-r,r,r]) sphere(r);
                translate([x-r,y-r,r]) sphere(r);
                translate([r,y-r,r]) sphere(r);
                translate([r,r,z-r]) sphere(r);
                translate([x-r,r,z-r]) sphere(r);
                translate([x-r,y-r,z-r]) sphere(r);
                translate([r,y-r,z-r]) sphere(r);
          else                                                        // anything else
             hull() {
                translate([r,r,r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,0);
                translate([x-r,r,r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,1);
                translate([x-r,y-r,r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,2);
                translate([r,y-r,r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,3);
                translate([r,r,z-r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,4);
                translate([x-r,r,z-r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,5);
                translate([x-r,y-r,z-r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,6);
                translate([r,y-r,z-r]) rcube_prim(r,rd,7);

module rcube_prim(r,rd,i) {
    a = len(rd);
    if(a<=3) {
       if(a && rd[0] && rd[1] && rd[2]) 
       else if(a && rd[0] && rd[1])
          translate([0,0,-r]) cylinder(r=r,h=r*2);
       else if(a && rd[1] && rd[2])
          translate([-r,0,0]) rotate([0,90,0]) cylinder(r=r,h=r*2);
       else if(a && rd[0] && rd[2])
          translate([0,-r,0]) rotate([-90,0,0]) cylinder(r=r,h=r*2);
          translate([-r,-r,-r]) cube(r*2);
    } else 
          translate([-r,-r,-r]) cube(r*2);

RCYLINDER_FLATTOP = [true,false];

module rcylinder(h=2,d=1,r=0.1,rd=[true,true],$fn=40) {
       hull() { 
             if(len(rd) && rd[0]) torus(do=d,di=r*2); else translate([0,0,-r]) cylinder(d=d,h=r);          
             if(len(rd) && rd[1]) torus(do=d,di=r*2); else cylinder(d=d,h=r);

 module torus(do=2,di=0.1,a=360) {
    rotate_extrude(convexity=10,angle=a) {
       translate([do/2-di/2,0,0]) circle(d=di,$fn=20);


module chainhull() {
       hull() {

There is one drawback using chainhull() { } as you can’t use conditional if else with { } within as it combines them as a group and becomes a child structure and so it will act as hull(), so you only can list non-conditional pieces within chainhull() as of OpenSCAD 2019.05, perhaps at a later time this limit vanishes.

That’s it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please answer the following anti-bot test:

Adding two and two is?

  1.    6
  2.    5
  3.    4
  4.    2
  5.    1
  6.    3
Just select the correct answers among the proposed.