3D printers are going mainstream, as more consumers warm up to and adopt the idea of 3D printing. The Micro, for example, is a Kickstarter project for a 3D printer for consumers. It was funded in mere minutes. But you can’t start printing once you get your printer. You will need to get the materials and more importantly the blueprint to printout your product.
If 3D modelling sounds difficult to you, fret not, the Web is filled with sites that offer users free 3D models to print on their printers free of charge. In this post, we’ve compiled 25 websites that you can use to search and download free STL models for 3D printers. Hopefully you will be able to find what you are looking for in these spots.
Recommended Reading: 10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying A 3D Printer
Thingiverse is a website operated by MakerBot Industries, the creators of the popular Replicator series of 3D printers. The website allows users to upload and share 3D model files to be used on 3D printers. The site is extremely popular and has a large community of people uploading files of varying categories, so if you’re looking for cool things to print, Thingiverse is the site to visit.
Similar to Thingiverse, YouMagine is a community website run by a 3D printer company. This one is run by the open source 3D printer company Ultimaker. It is relatively new (it started out in 2013), yet it is filled with interesting things to print. The community is still growing and with the backing of a major 3D printer manufacturer, this site is one to look out for.
Cubify is the website for the Cube series of consumer 3D printers, which is created by 3D Systems. The site mainly offers you ways to buy 3D printed items and files but it does make available some interesting free items, mainly under their Kids section, some of which children can customize using a web app.
My Mini Factory
My Mini Factory is the 3D model repository managed by iMakr, an online store that sells 3D printers and accessories. It also operates the largest 3D printing store in Central London. The site contains 3D models designed by professionals and all uploaded designs are tested for quality. You can also make a request for 3D models that their designers will create then share.
The aim of GrabCAD is to “help engineers develop products faster”, offering tools that help them collaborate with their files. But for the average 3D printing enthusiast, the best part of the site is their large library of free files created by a community of over a million engineers. Registration is required but the number of files offered is worth it.
DEFCAD is a website currently in its alpha phase. It acts as a search engine for 3D printable models and a community forum for 3D modelers. The site is created by Defence Distributed, which release the plans for their 3D printed gun, the Liberator (now removed) on it.
Autodesk 123D is a suite of computer aided design (CAD) and 3D modeling tools aimed specifically at hobbyists. Along with the suite of tools, Autodesk also has a website where users can upload their creations and share it with other users. Many of the models can be downloaded and printed, using Autodesk as a utility to interface with MakerBot 3D printer.
3DVIA is a company that offers 3D modeling and publishing tools that are aimed at both the consumer and professionals. Their website offers a Content Warehouse, where the community hosts and shares their contents. Registration is required to download the files.
Cubehero is a website that allows users to host and organize their 3D printed projects in order to aid further collaboration on their work. Think of it as a GitHub for 3D printing, where users can share their files, discuss projects and contribute to them. There is also a way to make request, so if you can’t find what you are looking for, you can request for it from the community.
Billing itself as a 3D Printing Social Network, Bld3r is a thriving community of makers who like to feature their creations. Users vote on the best creations, so popular creations rise to the top and get better exposure. The site features items that are hosted on the social network and outside of it too, like on Thingiverse and YouMagine.
Another 3D printing community, Sproutform is a website dedicated to giving users ways to share their design and help people print 3D creations. Sproutform has a system that tries to learn what you like. The more you interact with the site by downloading and rating designs, the better it is with recommendations.
Shapeways is mainly an online shop where you can purchase 3D printed items or have your own 3D model printed by them. But if you look close enough, you can find the people who sell their wares also offering the files required for you to print them yourself.
Instructables is a community where users can share their DIY projects and this includes things made using a 3D printer. Also included are the how-to’s and instructions on how to build their creations, and some helpful designers take the time to answer questions fielded by the public.
A French community and marketplace where modelers can share or sell their designs, Cults has a collection of high quality models you can download. Users can follow their favorite designers and modelers and get instant updates when a new creation is posted. The name of the site, Cults, is St. Luc, the patron saint of painters, spelt backwards. The website also supports English.
Pinshape, a 3D model marketplace still in beta, is similar in style to Pinterest, in terms of layout, look and the ability to repin favorites. You can either purchase the model from the designer or download the files to print it yourself, if they offer it.
RascomRas is a Spanish website that allows users to upload and share 3D model files. RascomRas at one point ran an Indiegogo campaign to fund their very own 3D printer. The campaign unfortunately didn’t get funded.
Repables is a very simple site that aims to be a repository of 3D printed model files, nothing more. It is a barebone website that allows users to upload their files to share, and download files they want to use. The site contains a lot of small, simple 3D models to print, with a nice selection of everyday items and even replacement parts for printers.
Another site that is taking inspiration from GitHub, ShapeDo offers a place for 3D model designers to share and collaborate on their creations. It offers users plenty of things to print, and instructions to get the best print possible.
Another online community for 3D printing hobbyists, showcasing interesting items from 3D printers, electronics and most importantly, 3D models is 3D Hacker. There are a lot of very cool model vehicles and buildings to print, along with add-ons and parts for your 3D printer.
Born out of a Facebook group, Fabster is mainly a platform to show what can be done with 3D printing. Quoting its founder Peter Sayers, Fabster aims to be “a kind of Facebook of 3D printing, with a mix of Thingiverse too.” The site has a great selection of 3D-printed jewelry and accessories.
Fabribles is a fairly new community, so there aren’t a lot of users just yet. However, there is a good selection of replacement parts for RepRap 3DR Delta printers.
While primarily a place to buy and sell 3D models of all kinds, not just those for 3D printing, CGTrader does offer a selection of free models that can be used on a 3D printer.
Google Custom Search
When in doubt, use Google Custom Search to find the files to 3D print what you wish. This is useful when you want to search through all the sites at once for that one same thing.
Yeggi is a search engine that will search major 3D printing websites for files that are compatible with 3D printers. You can also look up some of the popular searches to get an idea what the community is currently interested in.
Here’s another search engine that will crawl the Web in search of 3D prints, looking through many 3D modeling sites for files compatible with 3D printers.