3D printing is on the rise and, thanks to affordable 3D printers, tons of tutorials, and a wide range of applications, it's increasingly accessible. However, while getting started with 3D printing may remain fairly simple, creating 3D models from scratch can be pretty challenging. As such, beginners may prefer downloading 3D printing files rather than generating them. If you're looking for the best websites for 3D printing models, these are the top 3D printing repositories you need to bookmark.
How to Get 3D Printer Files: Understanding 3D Printing Files
If you're new to 3D printing, you're probably wondering what file types are used in 3D printing. The most common file format for 3D printing is STL, or stereolithography. It's a single-color 3D rendering format. Alternatively, you'll find many VRML, or virtual reality modeling language. Unlike STL, VRML files feature color and may be used on multi-extruder 3D printers for multi-color print jobs. AMF, or additive manufacturing file format, on the other hand, uses XML for an open standard file type. There's color support and it's easily compressed. GCODE files offer tons of functionality, and include comprehensive instructions for slicing.
3D printer file types:
What is the Best Software for 3D Printing?
Aside from compatible 3D printer files, you'll also need software for sending print jobs to a printer as well as editing files. Often, printers come bundled with software. My Elegoo Neptune featured USB drive loaded with software, but there are plenty of third-party options. CURA is a popular, cross-platform 3D printing software option. Elegoo ships its Neptune with Elegoo CURA. Windows 10 touts a 3D printing software suite with 3D builder and 3D viewer. Slicer, SketchUp, FreeCAD, and Autodesk are excellent choices as well. For a slew of 3D printing monitoring and control options, OctoPrint is a must-use for any 3D printing enthusiast.
Best 3D printing software:
- Windows 3D Builder and 3D Viewer
Best Websites for 3D Printing Models
From Thingiverse to Yeggi and Cults, these are the top websites for 3D printable files!
While Thingiverse isn't the only source of 3D printer files, it's easily the best website for 3D printing models. Here, you'll find an excellent collection of 3D printable downloads. It's completely free, and boasts over a million 3D models for use. It's easy to navigate, and the homepage includes featured collections with curated holiday designs, and more. In a few clicks, you'll be well on your way to perusing neat 3D printable projects. Although everything is completely free to download, you can, and should, tip designers. You can download files, like projects, add them to collections, and even remix creations for a fresh spin on a favorite upload. Aside from files, you'll find tutorials and educational content. Its education section if chock full of nifty resources for 3D printing DIYers of all skill levels. Since MakerBot runs Thingiverse, it's no surprise this is the best 3D source of 3D printable files. It's a must-bookmark.
Yeggi remains one of the top 3D printable model search engines available. It's a bit different from sites such as Thingiverse. Rather than a dedicated site for 3D STL files and other 3D printing downloads, it's essentially the Google of 3D printing. Merely search Yeggi, then download your files. It's a fantastic, comprehensive 3D printing search engine.
On Cults, you'll find a bevy of downloadable 3D printing assets. There's everything from basic designs to top-notch, professional caliber designs. When uploaded, designs are reviewed for printability, and site organization is superb. You'll be able to sort by content type, such as art, fashion, jewelry, and architecture. Among the superb projects you'll fond on Cults 3D, there's a ZipGuy Spider Armor, BB8 Star Wars droid, and a slew of other project files.
Over on Pinshape, you'll find thousands of free and paid STL files for download. Whereas many 3D printing asset websites boast mostly free artwork, Pinshape's premium files section offers paid downloads. This is a fantastic touch which supports content creators. Moreover, its 3DPrinterOS cloud software allows creators to stream designs from the Pinshape marketplace directly to many popular 3D printers. It's a huge innovation in the 3D printing space. Like Cults, navigation is smooth, and it's a fantastic community.
With over 60,000 free and premium paid 3D printable files from over 13,000 makers, there's a ton of utility for both printing enthusiasts and designers. Its competitions page ensures that DIYers stay on top of their game, and lends the opportunity to win prizes such as 3D printers. Plus, MyMiniFactory includes loads of categories, from jewelry to sports, upcycling, education, and even building a 3D printer.
Featuring thousands of 3D printing assets to download, Threeding is one of the top 3D printing marketplaces around. Sporting both free and paid designs, you can download and print a variety of objects. Organization is spectacular, with categories such as Featured Models, New Models, Electronic & Technology, Art, and more. In addition to downloadable STL files, you'll find a robust blog with tons of 3D printing content including free 3D printing models of the week, innovations in 3D printing, and articles with the latest trends.
The cleverly-titled YouMagine posits itself as a space for makers to publish 3D designs. YouMagine hosts over 15,000 designs. Whereas many 3D printing sites offer both free and premium paid downloads, YouMagine hosts exclusively open files. As such, it's one of the best sites for 3D printer files. In a few clicks, you'll be on your way to churning our an OpenRC F1 dual-color McLaren Edition, flexi articulated gecko, and tons of other neat 3D printable designs.
Shapetizer 3D Printing Market clocks in as one of the best sites for 3D printing models. A fusion of a free repository and premium marketplace, Shapetizer touts lush web design and high-quality 3D printing assets. While the majority of 3D printing communities highlight designs, Shapetizer includes featured designers, a refreshing twist which gives credit to creators, not just content.
From SketchUp comes 3D Warehouse, a comprehensive aggregate of 3D printable designs and files. Here, you'll find anything from models to collections, including keyboards, MAME cabinets, and more. Notably, 3D Warehouse features tons of designs for conceptual 3D printing assets. Check out its over 3 million 3D designs, all free.
On GrabCAD, you'll discover millions of completely free 3D printable models and files. Easily one of the best 3D printing websites you can find, it's among the largest 3D printing online communities. Comprised of a mixed demographic, from engineers and professional designers to manufacturers, you'll find a beefy free CAD library, as well as tons of tutorials. Aside from files, you can connect with over 6 million members for ideation and collaboration.
The aptly named STL Finder is, well, a search engine of STL files. It's similar to Yeggi in that it's a search engine rather than a repository. Web design leaves a bit to be desired, but it's basically the Google of 3D printing. With a robust search feature including 3D models collections, to search results, and the ability to favorite designs plus look at your search history, STL Finder is the definitive search engine for 3D models.
Best Sites for 3D Printing: Final Thoughts
With the immense popularity, and increasing accessibility, of 3D printing, there are loads of websites for 3D printing models and assets. Here at Electromaker, we've got a slew of 3D printing material including a Star Wars BB8 droid and 3D printable smart plant pot. Whether you're seeking a 3D printable file search engine, community for 3D printing, or something in-between, there's a website for you.
What are the best websites for 3D printing models you've discovered?