Since 3D printing has become very popular among hobbyists, there are many websites available to download models and print them with our printers without having any special knowledge in terms of modeling. For this reason, the most interesting websites and their advantages will be described below.
Use our own STL search engine (3DSolved)
There are a lot of different 3D digital models to be printed available online. For this reason, browsing every website to find the one that best suits the work you want to do may be tedious.
In this situation, 3dsolved will be extremely helpful. On this site, you will be able to get access to free and paid models of any type from up to 8 different platforms. All that you need to do is to click on the model you want and you will be instantly redirected to the site where the model is uploaded.
So far, results are gathered from the sites listed below:
The Best Websites to Download STL Files for 3D Printing
Not everyone is capable of creating their models and designs. Fortunately, there are a large number of websites where thousands of models are available. These models have already been created and are ready to be downloaded and used. Besides, these sites are ideal for allowing us to come into contact with experienced designers who are capable of turning our ideas into reality.
The best websites to download STL files and everything they offer will be described below.
Printables (by Prusa)
A better alternative to Thingiverse
Printables was created in 2019. It is a 3D model database created by Prusa, the 3D printer manufacturer.
It is worth mentioning that Printables is available for users of Prusa printers. In addition, there is access to high-quality 3D printable models, regardless of your printer.
Every uploaded model has information regarding the license under which it was uploaded, in addition to a list that details the conditions that have to be met to use the file.
Even though it is possible to find hundreds of thousands of models, many of them are duplicated objects or slightly altered versions of the same model. Printables has decided to take the time to supervise every uploaded model, provide support to individual designers, and organize contests with valuable prizes that encourage creators to develop new, fun, and useful material.
Some of the models that are available on this website are listed below:
You can access Printables here.
The most popular search engine
Thingiverse was created in 2008. It is a digital design community where it is possible to find, make and share 3D printable digital models.
In the spirit of maintaining an open platform, creators foster the use of Creative Commons licenses. This means that models can be used or altered by anyone.
So far, approximately 2,296,620 3D models have been uploaded and this number increases daily. As there are no restrictions as to the types of models that can be uploaded, it is possible to find objects from a broad variety of categories. Some examples are listed below:
- Tools: Filament Cutter
- Toys: Articulated Lego Figurines
- Decoration: Wall Sculpture 2D
- Accessories: Headphone Stand
You can access Thingiverse here.
The newest search engine
Thangs is a 3D model community platform that was created in 2015. It is in continuous growth and, so far, it has 13,557,875 available models. In addition, it has a geometric search software and it is possible to find pieces based on their geometric relationship with other pieces.
It provides its users with free and unlimited storage space. As a consequence, they can upload their models and choose whether to share them with the rest of the community or keep them private.
Besides, there is an option that allows you to work collaboratively with other users. In addition, Thangs keeps a graphic record of every change produced in the model. One similarity it has with Thingiverse is that this platform has a broad variety of objects of different categories such as:
- Jewelry: Wolf pendant
- Pieces: Ender 3 Printer Replacement
- Accessories: Vacuum Attachment
- Toys: Chessboard
You can access Thangs here.
Cults3D was created in 2014. It is a 3D printing market that has an international community of manufacturers and specialized designers. Besides, it acts as a bridge as it allows them to share free and paid printable models.
So far, the platform has 596 thousand different categories of printable models that include art, fashion, tools, and architecture, among others.
With this platform, it is possible to earn money as a result of selling your models. For each download, you will receive 80% of the net price as profit, and Cults3D keeps 20% of the commission. This means that there is no subscription fee or fixed monthly fee to pay.
What is new about this platform is that it offers discount coupons to buy 3D printers, and filament spools, among many other accessories at the best price.
Some examples of the models available on this site are listed below:
You can access Cults3D here.
The most complete online market for 3D printing
MyMiniFactory was created to encourage digital creators to make and share their original models. It allows you to find free and paid digital STL models that are ready to be printed. In addition, it assures that a software review of the models is performed and also that their printing is tested before they are uploaded.
Design and print competitions are frequently sponsored. As a result, you can win prizes that range from 3D printers to printing materials.
It particularly has a section called “build a 3D printer” where it is possible to find spare parts, accessories, add-ons, and mods for your 3D printer. In addition, it has sections where items such as prostheses, orthopedic items, jewelry and accessories, educational objects, and recycling projects. Some items available on this site are:
You can access MyMiniFactory here.
Pinshape was created to build a community of manufacturers and designers of every level of experience. This platform provides an easy way to explore, share and download printable digital models.
In addition, it has a new section that is intended for teachers and professors, regardless of their level of experience. The purpose of this section is to contribute to better learning of 3D printing and also to help teachers and professors use 3D printing effectively in classrooms. In this section, you will find printing tutorials, classes, and guidelines about how the different 3D printers should be used.
Besides, Pinshape has forums where users can interact and help each other. In addition, there are printing contests every month where users can demonstrate their talent and win prizes.
It has a wide variety of models from different categories such as:
You can access Pinshape here.
Despite Yeggi´s limitations and an outdated design, it is possible to find models in many sources.
This 3D printable model search engine collects data from different communities and markets so that users can choose the most suitable 3D model from a single site. Then, they are redirected to the platform in question: Thingiverse, Cults3D, Gambody, Jumfactory, etc. One characteristic that it shares with these platforms is the possibility of finding free and paid models. So far, it has approximately 3,423,932 available models.
Users can create a list of 3D models once their account is activated, and they can follow specific keywords to be informed each time a new related model is uploaded on a platform.
You can access Yeggi here.
GrabCAD Library has a community of approximately 10,470,000 engineers and designers. It offers approximately 5,250,000 free CAD models of any type.
If you are interested in keeping learning, there are tutorials regarding design, manufacturing, simulation, and key issues in terms of engineering. Besides, there are forums where users can ask the community questions related to these issues. In addition, groups are created so that users with common interests can interact with each other.
Further, engineers and designers can create their CAD model portfolio. As a consequence, they can expose their work and experience.
It is possible to find CAD models of any type, not only 3D printing related.
You can access GrabCAD Library here.
Sketchfab is an extremely broad platform that allows users to buy and sell 3D printable models and also AR and VR models, which are used in animation. For this reason, users must pay attention to STL printable models.
Sketchfab is characterized by its 3D model visualizer which is based on WebGL technology. It is the first platform that uses this type of visualizer.
It has a powerful online 3D editor which allows users to access rendering tools based on physics for every model. It allows users to modify, among other things, parameters such as light, materials, animation, and audio.
You can access Sketchfab here.
Free3D is a 3D digital model market that offers, within different categories, free and paid models. It also offers excellent prices.
This platform was created to allow designers to share their 3D models, create their portfolios and make a profit by doing freelance work.
In addition, in most cases, once a model is acquired the buyer is exempt from payment and royalties.
Some interesting models available on this site are listed below:
You can access Free3D here.
It is an innovative visual search engine that can track billions of 3D models in hundreds of catalogs from manufacturers that are available around the world.
As it has multiple search options, users can easily find the models they need. They can find models within a specific classification or catalog through a geometric search. Besides, a 3D model that already exists can be obtained from a picture or drawing and its color. In addition, pieces can be found based on their functional form.
You can access 3Dfindit.com here.
It refers to itself as “The source of professional 3D models around the world”. Turbosquid is one of the most efficient repositories when users have to find tridimensional models for any type of project, not only one related to 3D printing. It has more than 300,000 available models, which are also used by game developers, news agencies, architects, visual effects studios, and publicists.
This platform helps users get and sell 3D models to hundreds of companies around the world.
You can access Turbosquid here.
Ameede is a completely free site. Users can find hundreds of STL 3D models that are ready to be printed.
Mainly, you will be able to find a wide collection of works of art and scanned sculpture models, in addition to toys, figurines, and jewelry, such as:
You can access Ameede here.
Even though Redpah is a community where people can share, find and download free 3D models, this platform mainly offers an option to buy and sell models. This can be used to offer a premium version of your model, or as a way to market your work and accept contributions.
This platform was launched to create a space where 3D models can be easily sold and downloaded. Redpah is strongly committed to taking action against piracy. Sellers must take an oath as to the originality of their models. If such originality is questioned, models will be removed from the site.
Some categories available on this site are listed below:
You can access Redpah here.
Libre3D is a site where people can find 3D models that are ready to be printed. Its policy is to keep the site open source and 100% free.
In addition, it is a useful open-source tool that converts SCAD files to STL files which are ready to be used in a 3D printer.
Even though users can upload their models without restrictions, the site is constantly monitored and edited by its creators. Consequently, any model that is not related to any type of 3D project may be removed.
Some of the printable models that are shared by users are listed below:
You can access Libre3D here.
Repables is a 3D digital model repository that allows designers to share their models with the community.
There are a wide variety of free download models that are ready to be used on this site. These range from specific pieces to decorative items and toys. Most of the available models are used under a Creative Commons license.
Some of the models available on this site are listed below:
You can access Repables here.
Threeding was created to act as a bridge between 3D model creators and 3D printing designers and manufacturers. In addition, this platform allows private users or companies to buy, sell or simply share free 3D models.
It is worth mentioning that this site allows designers to exhibit their work in exchange for one of the lowest commissions on the market, which is 20%.
You can find all types of models, ranging from tools and specific pieces to toys, jewelry, and works of art and decoration. Some examples are listed below:
You can access Threeding here.
This 3D resources site from NASA is a collection that has more than 350 3D printable models, textures, and images from inside NASA.
All these resources can be downloaded for free so that they can be used for educational, informative, decorative purposes, and the like.
On this site, you will be able to find models that range from asteroids and craters to rovers, space shuttles, and rockets, which are ready to be printed. All available models include a brief historical and informative description of the object.
Some interesting examples are listed below:
You can access NASA here.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. It is the nation’s medical research agency.
The NIH 3D Print Exchange was developed due to the difficulty of finding and creating 3D printable models that are also scientifically accurate or medically applicable. It provides models in formats that are ready to be used in 3D printers, and it offers a set of tools to automatically create 3D models from medical and molecular image data.
Some of the objects that can be found on this site are collections of 3D cured models or sponsored by other projects related to biomedical science. For example, the Heart Library, which is sponsored by Jump Simulation, is a collection of digital reproductions of human anatomic hearts, with a specific area of interest in congenital heart disease.
Some models available on this site are listed below:
You can access NIH here.
The Smithsonian Institution is a group of education and research centers that is administered by the U.S government. It is a museum complex as well.
The 3D Program is developed by specialized technologists and the Digitization Program Office. The Program is focused on developing tools to increase and diffuse knowledge through the use of three-dimensional capture technology and analysis tools.
It has a 3D digital capture repository where it is possible to view all the objects that are exhibited in the museums. All the models include a historical description of the piece in question.
Some examples of the models available on this site are listed below.
You can access Smithsonian here.
ThreeDScans was created in 2012. It is a digital model repository that results from 3D scanning of pieces that come from collections of 11 museums and different institutions, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), the Theater Musée Guimet (Paris), and the Museum (Vienna), among others. Mainly, you will be able to find scanned 3D models of sculptures from different periods, artists, and materials.
Not only are all the models for free download but they can also be used without copyright restrictions.
Scan The World is an initiative created by My Mini Factory.
It was created to provide access to printed representations of 3D cultural artifacts that have significant cultural meaning. It currently has a collection of 17,334 scanned models from 1,884 artists and 827 places around the world.
Even though all the models are available for free and can be downloaded, some of them cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Further, it is possible to share scanned models of cultural artifacts that are available in your country. In general, they are generated through photogrammetry. All you need to do is follow a tutorial on how to take pictures of the piece in question, send them and the model will be created from the pictures that you sent.
Some interesting models available on this site are listed below:
You can access Scan The World here.
What is an STL File?
STL is a file format that defines the geometry of 3D objects. It is a simplified version of a CAD file since it does not include information about color, textures, or physical properties that other formats of this file include.
STL is an abbreviation of stereolithography, one of the most used techniques for 3D printing.
The STL file approximates the surface of a solid model with triangles. When the surface is more complex, more triangles need to be created.
Can you create your STL Files? (design your models)
As previously described, there are a large number of 3D models available on these platforms. However, you may need a very specific piece or you may want to modify an existing model.
In this case, the best option is to use one of the several CAD software which will allow you to create your model. Most of these programs allow you to save your model and export it to your computer as an STL file once you are satisfied with the result.
Finally, you will need to use a slicer to prepare your model and convert it into g-code so that your printer can read it.
You should read this article if you are interested in learning more about how to create your 3D models.
Taking everything into consideration, I think that we will agree on the fact that we should not worry if we don’t find it easy to work with models. There are a large number of sites where you will undoubtedly find the option that best adapts to your projects regardless of whether they are free or paid models, they already exist or they are created on request.