- 2023 Update
In this 2023 update, we have compiled a list of the top 10 sites to download free STL files for 3D printing. A CAD file is the first step towards the 3D printing process. But not many people are skilled in designing a CAD model but a lot of emerging 3D printing communities are offering CAD files which are free to download and print. Such sites eliminate the need to use CAD Software for popular items/products. We look at some of the most popular, interesting and unique sites which offer such free STL files for 3D printing.
Sites to Download FREE STL Files for 3D Printing
Thingiverse is maker community managed by MakerBot. It is probably the world’s largest 3D printing community with a huge collection of 3D designs (more than half a million). All of their designs are licensed under a Creative Commons license, meaning that anyone can use or alter any design. It has a great feature where you can customise the designs on the website itself before actually downloading it.
Cults3D is a 3D printable model online marketplace. It was founded in 2014 and has rapidly grown in popularity as a platform for 3D printing enthusiasts to find and share 3D models. The platform provides a diverse selection of 3D models, such as figurines, toys, jewellery, and home decor items. Users can upload their own designs to Cults3D, which can then be sold or shared for free. Users can also share tips, ask for help, and discuss various 3D printing topics in the platform’s community section. Cults3D provides both free and paid models, and users can pay for them with a credit card or PayPal.
An interesting fact about the name is that the name Cults is an ‘anacycle’ which means that if the name Cults is read backwards it becomes St. Luc, or St. Luke, who is the patron saint of artists and sculptors.
Printables is a 3D printing models repository from Josef Prusa, founder of Prusa Research. This is a new rebranded platform launched in early 2022 (earlier PrusaPrinters) to target users outside of the Prusa ecosystem.
Printables is great for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it has a repository of 120,000 models published and users can download free STL files for 3D printing. With over 235,000 registered users, it has one of the largest active 3D printing community in the industry. Secondly, it also has a reward system where active designers are given website badges in recognition of their contribution and even 3D printing filaments. And thirdly, it is much more than just a repository as it has high-quality content, regional communities, contests, educational projects to participate and also Prusa Eshop.
Pinshape, like Cults3D, is an online marketplace for 3D printable models. It was established in 2014 and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. It calls itself as a 3D printing community marketplace for encouraging makers, designers, manufacturers, etc. by sharing and selling 3D printing files mostly for Free. Toys, jewellery, art, and functional objects such as phone cases and keychains are all available as 3D printable models on Pinshape. Users can upload and sell their own designs on the platform, with Pinshape taking a commission on each sale. It also has a community section where users can share tips, seek assistance, and discuss various 3D printing topics.
The blog section is also really great to learn through simple and interesting articles. It regularly hosts contests and awards free filaments, 3D pens and even 3D printers to designers.
Pinshape was acquired by Formlabs in April 2016.
MyMiniFactory is also an online platform for 3D printable models founded in 2013 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom. MyMiniFactory has a large selection of 3D printable models, such as figurines, cosplay props, and functional objects like phone cases and keychains. Users can upload their own designs to the platform, which can then be sold or shared for free. MyMiniFactory also has a community section where users can share tips, request assistance, and discuss various 3D printing topics.
MyMiniFactory’s curated library of models, which are verified by a team of in-house designers to ensure their quality and printability, is one of its distinguishing features. Furthermore, MyMiniFactory provides a “guaranteed 3D printable” feature, which means that if a model is downloaded from the platform and is unable to be successfully printed, the user can request a refund. MyMiniFactory also provides a premium subscription service, which grants access to exclusive designs, purchase discounts, and other benefits.
GrabCAD is a web-based platform that provides tools and resources for engineers, designers, and manufacturers to share, view, and manage CAD files. It was founded in Estonia in 2009 and was acquired in 2014 by Stratasys, a leading 3D printing company. GrabCAD has a large library of CAD files available for download and use in a variety of engineering and manufacturing applications.
GrabCAD’s online CAD viewer is one of its standout features, allowing users to view and inspect 3D models without the need for specialised software. This is especially useful for team members who do not all have access to the same CAD software. GrabCAD also provides a cloud-based platform for managing CAD files and real-time project collaboration. Users can use this platform to share and comment on designs, track changes, and assign tasks to team members.
GrabCAD, in addition to its CAD file library and collaboration tools, provides a variety of engineering resources, such as tutorials, webinars, and industry news. The platform has grown in popularity among engineers and designers in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, and consumer goods.
Gambody is a premium 3D printing marketplace where you can buy and sell 3D files of video game and comic book models. All the models are highly detailed and are optimised for all 3D printer. Gambody is trying to cash in on the craze people have for famous characters from comics, movies, and games.
YouMagine is a web-based platform for open source 3D printing design sharing and collaboration. Ultimaker, a leading manufacturer of 3D printers, launched it in 2013 and it is open to anyone who wants to upload or download 3D designs.
One of YouMagine’s key features is its emphasis on open source designs, which can be freely downloaded, modified, and shared by anyone. Users can browse and search for 3D designs in a variety of categories, including art, fashion, education, and engineering, on the platform. Users can also create profiles, upload designs, and work on projects with other designers.
YouMagine also has a community forum where users can ask questions, share tips and tricks, and discuss various aspects of 3D printing. In addition, the platform has a blog that features 3D printing technology news and updates, as well as interviews with designers and industry experts.
YouMagine is an excellent resource for anyone interested in 3D printing and open source design. It offers a platform for sharing and collaborating on designs, as well as a community for learning and sharing 3D printing knowledge.
Yeggi is simply a search engine for 3D printable models. They collect data from all 3D printing communities and marketplaces and offer it to the user like a regular search engine. On searching for a particular product, the Most Searched and Most Clicked models are shown at the top followed by others.
3DShook has an interesting story about the start of this 3D printing community. They simply wanted to print everything there is to print and that is the reason why everyone should buy a 3D printer. With this motivation, the 3D printing community offers thousands of reasons to buy a printer. Most of the modes are free but they also offer a subscription package ranging from $10 to $50 as well as monthly or yearly subscription, educational subscription, and a commercial license for selling their products.
Not many people know about this offering from NASA but it has some really cool site for downloading some of NASA’s spacecraft’s, shuttles, satellites, astronaut figurines, accessories and many more. The interface is really dull but just get over it and explore the content. NASA 3D Model resources regularly allows users to download free STL files for 3D printing.
Free3D is a website where you can download a large number of free 3D models. Animals, characters, vehicles, weapons, and other categories are available on the platform. Users can search for 3D models by category, format, or popularity, as well as by price (free or paid). There is also a community section on the website where users can interact, share tips, and showcase their own 3D designs. Free3D works with a variety of 3D modelling software and file formats, including STL, OBJ, FBX, and others.
Threeding is a website that offers a wide variety of 3D printable models for sale or free download. Models from art and fashion to science and technology can be found on the website. Threeding also offers a marketplace for 3D modellers to sell their creations, allowing them to profit from their efforts. Models are available in a variety of formats, including STL, OBJ, and PLY, and can be downloaded and printed on most 3D printers. Threeding also provides a 3D printing service, allowing users to print their chosen models using professional-grade printers and materials.
Is STL good for 3D Printing?
STL is the most widely used and accepted 3D printing file format. The STL file, which stands for ‘Standard Tessellation Language,’ only describes the surface geometry of a 3D object and does not include any colour, texture, or other attributes.
How do I download STL files?
On most online repositories, you will find a ‘Download’ button which you can click and easily download the Free STL files.
Are all STL files free?
No, all STL files are not free. Some online repositories like Thingiverse and Printables offer all files for free, while others are marketplaces where you will find a combination of free and paid models.
How to sell 3D Models?
If you are a designer, sign up for online 3D printing marketplaces such as Cults3D, MyMiniFactory, Gambody, and others, and upload your models for a fee of your choosing. If a user purchases your 3D Model, you will be compensated. However, depending on the platform rules, you will only be paid once you have reached a certain threshold, which is usually $100.
How do Designers get paid for their 3D Models?
Designers get paid if they price their 3D models on online 3D printing marketplaces such as Cults3D, MyMiniFactory, Gambody, and others. They are compensated when customers purchase their models. Designers, on the other hand, can also upload models and allow free downloading of certain models.
In recent years, the 3D printing industry has advanced significantly, and there are now countless resources available for finding and downloading free STL files. There are numerous options for 3D printing enthusiasts and professionals, ranging from well-known sites like Thingiverse, Cults3D, and Printables to lesser-known platforms like Free3D and Threeding. These sites provide a wealth of resources and opportunities to explore, whether you’re looking for functional parts, artistic designs, or just some inspiration for your next project.
So, fire up your 3D printer, start exploring these 10 sites, and bring your ideas to life in ways you never thought possible before!
About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.