- Updated in October 2022
In this 2022 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.
- 1 Sites to Download FREE STL Files for 3D Printing
- 2 FAQs Answered
- 3 Final Thoughts
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.
Pinshape is a 3D printing community marketplace for encouraging makers, designers, manufacturers, etc. by sharing and selling 3D printing files mostly for Free. The Pinshape 3D printing community is pretty strong and growing rapidly. 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 started in 2013, is a social platform for 3D printable objects. They consider themselves as the YouTube of 3D printing. All the prints are guaranteed to print on any desktop printer. It has some really unique categories like Upcycling, Spare Parts, Scan the World, and even build a 3D Printer.
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.
GrabCAD is the largest online 3D printing community of professional designers, engineers, manufacturers, and students with 4 million members sharing the CAD files, designs, tips, and downloading the CAD files. GrabCAD offers a great solution for all the available Stratasys 3D printers. It offers a Free CAD library, tutorials, and design challenges.
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 an Ultimaker community, an open source 3D printer manufacturing company. It aims to provide a complete end-to-end open source software solution. With over 10,000 ready to print designs, this is a small 3D printing community in comparison with some others but it is undoubtedly one of the most active and responsive communities of them all.
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.
Cults3D is like any other 3D printing community bringing together the makers, designers, and manufacturers by sharing free designs and offering the community to buy and sell premium designs. Interesting fact about the name is that the name Cults is an anacycle: read backwards it becomes St. Luke patron saint of artists and sculptors.
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.
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.
Now that you have 10 sites to download free STL files, you can browse all of them and find the best 3D models you like and start 3D printing. However, note that these are not the only ones and there are a few more such marketplaces where you can get free and paid models. We will continue to bring you more such sites and add to this existing list.
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.