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Thingiverse & Alternatives: Where to Get Free 3D Printer Designs

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Now that you finally have your very own 3D printer, it is time to really put this amazing machine through its paces. However, you can only do that if you know how to print and more importantly where to find the source stl files.

For the former, you will have to rely on your own experience as well as the ability to read and understand all the operating instructions. But for the latter, you will have to go online and find the relevant files to create all kinds of glorious 3D objects.

In fact, websites are your very best bet for any sort of 3D work in the initial stages.

Once you have the relevant expertise and experience to develop your own source files, you might be able to opt for a ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) approach to 3D printing. But until that time, it is important to check out the best options available on the internet.

Best Places to Get Models for 3D Printing

Here, you are in luck since the online world is choke-full of all kinds of 3D models and free stl files that you have to just simply download and start printing right away! While many models are available at a certain price, there are plenty of free models and stl obj files floating around in cyberspace. These models would be absolutely ideal for you to start on your 3D model adventures.

Let us take a closer look at the various different free 3D models and stl file printing sites out there, and evaluate them. This way, you will be able to make an informed decision regarding your best 3Dprint or two.

1. Thingiverse

This is by far and large, the single most popular website for 3D printing models. Best of all, it is completely free. If you like the models here you just have to download them and you are good to go.

This site is basically an online repository of various 3D models where users are able to not only share their own individual pieces of work but also both acquire and mix other users’ work too. Here, it is possible to engage in detailed discussions on specific types of 3D printing stl files and related topics.

These can include different models, designs, parameter selection along with both handling and management issues. The site can also help you out with 3D printer selection. The overall design focus is very consumer-centric and it is possible to do the following here:

  • Upload models
  • Host
  • Share free stl files
  • Digitally re-mix models
  • Have discussions and
  • Acquire objects with the help of 3rd party providers

This is the world’s largest 3D printing community and its main claim to fame is that it firmly believes that the 3D printing world is not mutually exclusive. This is why it actively encourages everyone to both create and remix 3D models and other stl files. This is irrespective of their overall technical expertise or even lack of previous experience.

This repository strives to ensure that all the 3D models presented here are licensed under their own creative commons license. In fact, this is the guiding spirit behind maintaining this open platform. This means that just about anyone can either use or alter the models, designs and free stl files present here.

The best way to become actively involved with the Thingiverse community is to try to get involved at 3D designing on your own. Here, it is pertinent to note that the Thingiverse repository does not merely consist of highly experienced designers, engineers, or even CAD/CAM drawing specialists.

In fact, anyone and everyone can join and learn and upload and download models and free stl files.

However, this is not the only means of participation. You can gain your credibility in this community by simply posting your 3D print designs, either as free STL or any other format you prefer.

It is also possible to create your very own models and templates for your best 3D design in the Customizer app. As of now, it uses the Thingiverse’s own API for 3D printing purposes. This site is so popular that many cults have sprung up around it.

This master Yoda statuette’s design is available for free at Thingiverse.com

2. 3D Warehouse

The 3D Warehouse is a vast repository of 100 percent free online 3D models and designs. Apart from ready-made models, they also have their own Sketch Up software that allows you to draw by hand and use their super-smart 3D modeling software to bring your drawings to life.

They also have plenty of third-party extensions that you can access whenever you want. You can use these extensions to increase the speed and flow of your 3D printing and stl work.

From Kermit the Frog to hanging lamp designs, they have it all. However, you will need to register before you will be able to log in and download any of the designs available on this website. Check out these few small bench designs that you can print on your 3D printer. (Hyperlink attached to the picture).

3. PrusaPrinters

PrusaPrinters, as the very name implies has a section that retails their excellent 3D printers. However, there is also another section there that has plenty of designs for 3D printing enthusiasts.

From a vibrant community to contests to featured prints and free stl files, the PrusaPrinters is the one-stop-shop to all your printing design needs. Best of all, all the prints are available for download, irrespective of the fact that you are not a Prusa 3D printer customer.

4. YouMagine

Their slogan says it all “there is something for everyone.” Here, you will be able to browse through over 17,000 open models, free stl files, and designs that are available for 3D printing purposes.

All of these models are ready to print and they can be downloaded at will. The site has multiple sections that include both regular and featured images that are prominently displayed on top.

The community members independently curate all the designs and place them in their respective collections. There is an entire section dedicated to various 3D printer upgrades as well as other collections that include miniatures and jewelry and other everyday objects.

The blog section is also extremely helpful and it has been categorized into different sections. Here, you will be able to get all the information you need regarding SLA prints or anything else related to both novice level and even advanced printing tips and tricks for 3D printing and free stl work.

There are regular contests here for best models designs and also 3D printing tools and hacks. All in all, this website is a great way to start your search for your very first 3D printing project. And even if you are a senior-level expert in the art and science of 3D printing, you can still learn a lot from the community here.

This is a members’ only site and you will have to sign in via your Google or social media accounts before you can download anything. Here is an interesting 3D boat that you can download from there.

5. GrabCad

This is one of the largest online 3D communities of professional engineers, manufacturers, designers, and students. There are almost eight million members and their online repository has a near unlimited number of designs.

They offer highly detailed tutorials and step by step instructions on learning everything you want to know regarding 3D printing technology, including highly practical hands-on tips and tricks. There are plenty of expert-level engineers and designers who will be only too glad to help you out, in case you hit any snags while learning the 3D print game.

Their contests’ section opens up a whole new world of possibilities regarding free stl and other 3D printing applications. This is because you will be able to try out for prices sponsored by the likes of NASA GE and Stratasys, to mention but a few companies.

The vast CAD (computer-aided design) library has a very large number of free 3D stl downloads available for even the most discerning 3D printing enthusiast.

There is also a section that has multiple engineering challenges and cracking them would make you eligible for many exciting prices. You can also ask any 3D and stl related questions and any one of the experts available there would hopefully answer you in a short while. Finally, the blog section keeps you up to date on the latest happenings in the 3D print world.

Let us check out an interesting 3D model of a Dodge challenger 13.

6. NIH 3D Print Exchange

The National Institute of Health runs its own site for sharing various 3D prints with medical applications. They invite people to help them in their quest for creating a library of health-related 3D models, stl files, and imagery to help save human lives.

Keeping the core goal in perspective, the NIH 3D Print Exchange now provides various models and stl files in easy to access formats. This is done so that these prints and stl files are fully compatible with the many different types of 3D printers available today.

This way, the 3D print and stl file exchange offers a really unique set of tools and related information to both create and subsequently share 3D printable models that will prove to be useful for biomedical science. You will need to create an account before you can go in and use the site’s many facilities.

This is a scaled model of the novel Coronavirus responsible for the COVID 19 Pandemic, currently raging all over the world.

7. CGtrader

This site has a massive library of over one million 3D models and stl files. It allows you to decide just how much you want to pay for a model that you want to download. The rates start from $2 and upwards. However, you can also browse through its free section and see if you like anything.

The resolution is not as great as the paid versions, but it is good enough for a novice relatively new to the art of the 3D model printing, stl, and obj files. Once you are experienced and confident enough, you can also avail of the paid stl files and models available on the site.

The site regularly offers discounts on its many wares. We found these golden decoration pieces in the free section of the site and added them here for your perusal.

8. MyMiniFactory

This site has been around for a long time. In fact, over 7 years and in that timeframe it has managed to carve an enviable reputation for itself as one of the primary repositories for 3D models and stl file.

It has managed to create a near completely decentralized ecosystem for 3D models that can either be shared free or alternately paid 3D printable designs. They ensure that every object present on the website is guaranteed 3D printable. In fact, each and every model posted at the MyMiniFactory site has to go through a stringent curation process.

This means that all the stl files that have been uploaded to the site are thoroughly checked and individually validated for 3D printability on the commonly available standard desktop 3D printer makes out there.

There are 18 categories on the website and they range from jewelry to fan art to education. You can download directly from the website or alternately, browse through their stores.

You can even set up your own store on the website and earn via the original models you place there. Apart from that, the site regularly holds competitions for up and coming talent and there is even a blog section, in case you want helpful tips on 3D printing.

This is a fantasy model from their free stl file section. However, there are plenty of even better stl and obj files and models in the paid content section of the site.

9. Pinshape

The good people at Pinshape claim that they have hundreds of thousands of 3D images and files that they have curated from their community of 70,000+ 3D model enthusiasts.

These include both 3D model makers and designers and they make sure that every stl file you download is 3D printable and compatible with most of the commonly available printers out there. You can both share or sell your original designs here or download whatever you like.

If you are new to the game, there are plenty of project tutorials and tips to help you not just get started, but increase your workflow as well.

The blogs and guides can help you to understand the workings of your printer so that you would be able to optimize it for your needs. There is even a detailed set of pages regarding the ideal 3D printer for your specific needs.

This tortoise shape 3D keychain model is available free of charge at their website. In fact, you can simply download the specs and stl file and start printing it.

10. TurboSquid

TurboSquid has a veritable plethora of diverse models carefully curated in their respective collections. You can find 100 percent, 3D printable models, here and they range from art and architecture to landscapes and technology to human anatomy.

Apart from the paid section, there are plenty of free 3D models also available for download. There are thousands of files available in virtually all of the major formats that include stl, max, c4d, obj, fbx, maya, and others.

Apart from the free section, there is an unmatched selection of premium 3D models available on the TurboSquid site. These can be purchased from as low as $5. However, the top-end models for professional users and labs can go for up to a few thousand dollars each.

There are an estimated 44000+ 3D models and stl files available on this site and they can all be downloaded and printed immediately.

Yes, the top end ones are pretty expensive, but they are meant for engineers, bio technicians, and designers. However, the free stl files are ideal for anyone looking to start 3D printing as a hobby. Most 3D models and stl files can be handled by regular 3D printers.

The image below is a 3D stool that can be printed to size, provided that your 3D printer is large enough to handle the stl file dimensions.

11. 3DExport

This site has over 23,000 high quality 3D printable models and around 70,000 community members, effectively making it a formidable site in the 3D print world.

The site offers step by step tutorials on a whole range of 3D prints and it has a large variety of different models and stl files that may be downloaded for free or via paid subscription. The paid subscription offer entitles you to free promotions and high res 3D stl files are sent directly to your email address on a weekly base. There are no charges for this promotion.

Apart from the 3D models and stl files, the site has a whole lot more to offer and provides detailed tutorials on scripting, CAD, rigging, sculpturing, texturing, game development, and heaps more.

It also provides links to various blogs, eBooks, e-zines, and other related material that can help a newbie get started and up to speed on the many different aspects of stl files and 3D printing in general.

It does not matter if you are an expert or a relative newbie, you can easily learn a lot from this, even as you download plenty of fresh and free 3D designs and stl files from their massive archive.

In time, as you gain experience, you might be tempted to check out their sales and purchase a design in stl format from their web store.

The free section does not have the awesome build quality of the models available in the paid version of the site. However, this 3D office desk caught our attention. It is available for free for downloading and printing on your machine.

12. Free3D

The name of this site is a bit of a misnomer since it is essentially more of a paid site than a free one. Yes, you can create a free subscription account, but for the really good stuff; you will have to pay the premium.

Some of the models are pretty inexpensive, but they are not exactly free STI files though.

Albeit, having said that, there is still a fairly large section of the site that offers 3D model downloads at no cost. From a house 3D model to an automobile stl file, this website does it all and in style!

This Bugatti Chiron model of 2017 is available for free as an stl file. You can simply download it and create your very own 3D model of the same.

13. 3Dshook

The 3Dshook experience is more of a paid site than anything else. Yes, there is a free trial gallery, but it is marked with the 3Dshook logo. Apart from this, there are hundreds of models ranging from $2 and upwards. They have all been carefully curated and are compatible with most 3D printers available today.

The layout of the site is pretty straightforward, and you can choose over 6000 3D models and stl files that have been scattered in 42 categories.

Apart from that, there are also tutorials and a blog section in case you feel that you are out of your depth or need answers to any questions when you start 3D printing for the first time.

We have selected this hand-shaped office desk pen holder for 3D printing.

14. RedPah

Redpah has a large community of contributors and you can both upload and download your 3D print models and stl files here. It is possible to use this site as an open-source library as well as a repository of free print files.

Alternately, you can simply use it as a vehicle to reach out to other 3D printing enthusiasts who would be interested in your amazing work with stl files!

Apart from accessing the vast library of free 3D models and stl files, you also have the great option of buying and selling these models. The good people at Redpah are committed to the creation of a free and fair marketplace. This personalized keychain’s stl file can be downloaded and 3D printed from their free 3D to print model section.

15. XYZ 3D Printing Gallery

This site is very heavy on the colors and graphics. However, you will still have to search for the content. Once you scroll down you will get to access the different types and categories of 3D models and stl files.

This is, by and large, more of a paid site rather than a one hundred percent free one. Clicking the ‘explore’ icon will take you to the multiple categories of models on offer. You will also be able to check out the many designers whose wares are available on the site. From toys for kids to cartoons to gadgets. In fact, everything is available on this site.

This is a 3D model of a toy tower that is available on the free section of this site. Take a look:

16. Cults3D

Cults3D allows the user to browse through different categories and download some of the very best 3D printer models for open-source, free, or even paid mode, in stl, obj, or scad format.

Each and every one of their models are 3D printable guaranteed. Their work is centered around connecting the various 3D print files makers with the people who really want to put their 3D printers through their paces. They have a very strong community behind the site and also offer helpful advice via their blogs. They also hold contests for best work at sporadic intervals.

These bracelet models are available at the free section of their site.

17. Zortrax Library

The Zortax Library aims to bring people closer to the art and science of 3D printing. Their library is part of a dedicated ecosystem that also includes the Zortrax M200 3D printer as well as fully compatible printing materials.

They have also thrown in a dedicated software Z-Suite. They have multiple categories and each model shows the number of times it has been downloaded as well as the total views for that specific image.

This will give the end users an idea of its overall popularity before they decide to download and print it themselves. The core purpose is to introduce people to the joy of materializing their own ideas. These happy face keychains are ideal for car and home keys.

18. Repables

This is a no frills, plain vanilla 3D model repository without a single extra feature or design element. You log on to the site and there are heaps of designs to choose from, and they are all scattered into different categories.

The site does require registration, but it is nonetheless, one of the most straightforward repositories out there. You can click on the explore tab to check out the various features or alternately, you can simply upload any of your own 3D models on the site. It is all up to you.

You can download this simple vintage steam iron model here.

19. 3DaGoGo 

This site prides itself on the fact that all of its 3D models are a hundred percent compatible with most standard 3D printers. Apart from that, it also offers an awesome selection of 3D designs that are verified beforehand, so that they would print whenever you want, wherever you want. No more disappointments due to failed prints!

There are around 17 categories in total and most of them consist of paid imagery. The average price is around $2 or so, so this is not a particularly pricy website. And yes, you can find some pretty cool designs here.

This 3D benchy is from their free section and would make a good benchmark for your machine.

20. Libre3D

This is the one stop go-to place for anyone who is a devout supporter of any sort of open-source 3D printing. Libre3D is widely considered to be a really dedicated resource for all sorts of 3D printing needs.

Apart from the paid segment of the site, there are well over 400 free stl files that you can download from the site. They have dozens of categories ranging from vehicles to office equipment to music and a search bar to help you find what you are looking for, as soon as possible. This ‘do it yourself’ toy is available at the site in both stl and scad files.

21. The Forge

This particular content repository is truly unique due to the fact that it features the exclusive work of a lone designer. The prolific Zheng3 is well known for his useful and funny 3D models and many 3D printing enthusiasts love to work on his designs.

His work is purely a creation of his own mind and he is justifiably proud of the sheer quality and quantity of his output. If you want to print something truly unique by a really talented individual, log on to the forge. Since Shang’s personal site is down, a lot of his stuff is currently available at Cults including this magnificent ballista model.

22. FaB365

FAB365 is one of the more popular product marketplaces for all kinds of 3D printable files. Here, duly registered users are allowed to buy, sell, and even download different kinds of 3D models that they can easily make at home on their personal 3D printers.

The paid designs have been grouped as per specific themes such as home, gadgets, art, and architecture. However, these designs are both quite dashing as well as sophisticated. The people running the site try to infuse humor in as many designs as they can.

This is primarily a paid site and you will have to download them as per your own personal budget. However, they do maintain a small database of fully printable files that are available for free.

This foldable trailer truck is available at a nominal price of $2.79.

23. NASA

There are few people in the world who have not heard of ‘The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’ (NASA). However, even fewer know that they have a library of 3D models that are ready to print.

Yes, this part of the site does look pretty gray and boring but nonetheless, it is a pretty exciting repository of around 100 3D print models that have been created by this agency. Their stl files are available absolutely free for educational purposes. Here, you will be able to recreate many landmark objects important to the history of space exploration. This is an image of the Apollo 1 landing site.

24. Dremel Lesson Plans

The US manufacturers Dremel have their very own curated portal of diverse lesson plans designed to complement their state of the art Builder line of 3D printers.

Since the idea Builder platform can only 3D print various objects in PLA filament only, their wide assortment of 3D printable files have been optimized for a truly frustration-free experience.

In fact, these 100 percent free stl files can be printed in classrooms and at the home. Many of them are also bundled with education material for teachers and parents alike. This measurement kit is available as part of their education package. It has been expressly designed for young school-age children.

25. Polar Cloud

The Polar Cloud is a petty well respected online social platform that offers 100 percent free stl files along with various 3D printer models. They lay a very strong emphasis on both education as well as collaboration.

This is done in the form of regular challenges that are designed to stimulate engagement. They also have well-explained tutorials that will show you how it’s done. However, you can only explore their content once you register; otherwise, it is not open to the general public. This is a 3D astronaut that has been used to benchy their products.

26. Yeggi

Yeggi.com is a dedicated search engine that will actively search for and find 3D printer models by crawling through multiple 3D printing websites. It also shows the more popular searches by your fellow enthusiasts so that you will get an idea of the trends that are rocking the 3D printing world.

The user interface (UI) is not very simple but it is however, pretty effective at what it does best. Aand that is finding free stl files for all of your 3D printing needs. You can also check out the section for new and upcoming free 3D printable files. As of now, you can access almost three million images there.

This adorable baby Groot docking station has been picked up by Yeggi from the Cgtrader site.

27. Stlfinder

The term ‘Stlfinder is pretty self-explanatory. This is a search engine that will find the relevant stl file for you by crawling all over the web and bringing you the right results for absolutely free STL files, along with various other models as well.

If you want, you can also create your very own account on the site in order to bookmark your favorite files for future use. There are millions of 3D printable images out there, and it will help you find the one you want. Since it is a search engine, you can simply enter the term and let it do the rest of the work.

Once it finds what you are looking for, it will display multiple hits on the same page. Here, you would have the option of visiting the site and checking to see if it free or not, so that you can make an informed decision accordingly. This is a 9mm pistol model available via the Stl Finder site.

28. Sketchfab

This is a platform that has been designed to share, publish, buy discover, and ultimately sell all kinds of 3D content. You can view different models on WebGL and WebXR technologies.

They allow various users to display multiple3D models on any mobile browser, or Virtual Reality (VR) headset. It is possible to join this site for free, but you will still have to pay at least a nominal amount for the models.

This is a picture of a fire hydrant available on this site.

29. Print Me a Sheep

This website has over 100,000 3D images in over a dozen categories, each with its own subcategories. The site is to the point and there is no extra fluff here, just 3D images, that’s it.

The site can be viewed in Italian, English, Spanish, and French and you will have plenty of free material as well as paid premium content for any project you like. This is a 3D print version of a Greek temple from the antiquities category.

Apart from Greek and Roman civilizations they also have Egyptian and other cultures available in this category. The same applies to most of the other categories as well.

30. Hum3D

The good people at Hum3D have a very simple and unique tagline. “We make what others miss” Keeping true to their word, they have a very carefully curated collection of 18,000 3D printable models.

From cars to electronics and from animals to weapons, they have it all, in 20 different categories. However, the 3D printable files are available as paid options, albeit at very nominal charges.

This 3D test car can be downloaded for around $5.

31. 3D up and Downs

Their stated goal is to make 3D printing available for everyone. They have created over 20 categories and a huge number of 3D printable images In pursuit of this goal. Unlike many other sites of a similar nature, their free and paid sections are very clearly marked and you can easily download a few trail prints to see if you like the content. Once convinced, you might opt for their high poly premium content.

There are plenty of stl files as well as other models and content available, and it is bound to satisfy even the most ardent enthusiast. This highly detailed 3D printable male white hand is available in their free section.

Conclusion

The above sites for free 3D files and models are merely the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other sites around that also offer excellent content at zero cost. Once you get into the game, you will not only learn more but you might eventually become a great designer and 3D object maker, in your own right. Good Luck!

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