We are fully equipped to handle the most diverse machining, fabrication, assembly, and inspection tasks.


The SIF team solves technical design issues and provides creative, cost effective solutions to all mechanical design and construction problems.

  • Instrument Design & Construction
  • Equipped with the latest in CAD/CAM software, we can reverse-engineer and design from a sample part or even a quick sketch
  • Using Solidworks and Mastercam, we often design from scratch and recommend the proper materials and engineering for the application
  • We can work from DXF, IGES, STEPP, ASCII, and practically any other file; we also work from sketches nearly every day.


The SIF offers consultation sessions for researchers seeking advice and recommendations on commercially available products, parts, vendors, literature, vacuum systems, assembly houses, and much more. We can advise on materials and design at any stage of a project. A short consultation session can translate into tremendous cost savings for customers. The SIF staff offers a total perspective on the design process through its diverse portfolio of experience and connections.

In addition, we have access to a number of vendors for procedures beyond our capabilities, such as heat treating, water jet cutting, laser welding, electro-polishing, passivating, anodising, plating, and powder coating.


Our highly skilled team has extensive experience machining conventional materials, exotic alloys, plastics, composites, and some ceramics. Although 90% of our work is in aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic, we also work with oxygen-free and/or high-conductivity copper, gold, silver, platinum, tantalum, titanium, molybdenum, tungsten, Inconel, Hastelloy, Macor, and many other materials. We can machine at an accuracy of up to .0002″.


We do all types of welding, including ultra high vacuum in stainless, aluminum, titanium, TIG, MIG, brazing, and silver solder. Bellows to .007″.

Mechanical & Assembly

The SIF offers customized design, manufacture, and assembly of scientific equipment and other related hardware.

  • Vacuum chambers
  • Instrument housings
  • Telescope parts and assemblies
  • Satellite parts
  • Robotics
  • Manipulators
  • Mechanical Movements
  • Hardware
    • Mounting
    • Fasteners
    • Spacers
    • Brackets


The SIF engineering team is fully capable of servicing the mechanical aspects of most laboratory equipment. In order to complete repairs in a timely fashion so as not to exceed the ticket price of the equipment being repaired, it is highly recommended that you provide as much information as possible, including:

  • A clear description of the problem
  • Tips on how to reproduce the problem in our shop
  • User’s Manual
  • Access to replacement parts


The SIF offers hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduates, graduates, and professionals. We offer a 9 week course in the Student Training Center, within the SIF, which introduces students to drafting, Solidworks, and the use of modern machine tools in a research environment. The objective of the course is to enable students to more effectively communicate with, and design for, such a shop in the future.


The SIF uses Solidworks, Mastercam, and Esprit software for design and machine control.

Rates & Quotes

Depending on the nature of the project, jobs may be billed for time and materials or quoted at a fixed rate; this is decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the director. Below are the standard Rates:

  • Boston University Customers: $59/hr
  • Boston University Collaborative Rate: $80/hr
  • Outside Customers: $104/hr

24 Hour Jobs

All expedited jobs with a turnaround time of 8 to 16 work hours will incur the following rates:

  • Boston University Customers: $88.50/hr
  • Boston University Collaborative Rate: $120/hr
  • Outside Customers: $156/hr