Where to find free STL files for 3D printing? There are many repositories and the number of STL and other files is getting bigger and bigger. Such platforms, together with the free and paid files to download, sometimes offer extra features. Let’s take a look at them.
This Guide Covers
- File Repositories
- 3D Model Search Websites
- More Ways to Find Quality Files for 3D Printing
File Repositories – Free and Paid Files for 3D Printing
Not all file repositories were built in order to provide free or paid STLs for 3D printing in the first place. Such repositories as Sketchfab or CGTrader, for example, have a different focus. However, their vast collections contain a big amount of 3D printable files nevertheless.
Files: STL, OBJ, other.
Part of the MakerBot’s ecosystem.
– Open Source. Thingiverse encourages to publish the files under Creative Commons License. Under these terms, such files are not only free but also can be altered in any way. This approach greatly benefits open source movement.
– Remix. In relation to the previous point, Thingiverse has the best system for remixing the existing models. In some cases, remixed versions get even more attention than the original versions.
– Groups. These are worth mentioning. Thingiverse groups have a slightly limited functionality compared to the traditional forums but the goal is the same. Similar to Facebook niche groups.
Incidentally, probably as a victim of its own success, Thingiverse had significant outages (long loading) in 2018-2019.
Files: STL, OBJ, other.
– GIFs. When browsing through Cults, you can find a lot of models displayed with the GIF animations. Such GIFs make the models, like flexi articulated, for example, better presented. Some designers have all of their designs animated with the GIFs.
– Best 3D Designers. On a specific page, Cults list the designers who have a big number of followers, likes, sales, and downloads. After a brief research, the pages may give a great insight into niches and demand in design for 3D printing.
– Selling. Cults is the most convenient and straightforward platform to sell STL and other files for 3D printing. It is known that the open-source-driven 3D printing community is reluctant to pay for the STL files, but the models with the $1-2 price tag are doing quite well. Check the profiles of Top 100 Best Designers (in Sales).
– Competitions. Sponsored by various 3D printing-related manufacturers.
Files: STL, OBJ
– Crowdfunding Campaigns. MyMiniFactory helps to run fundraising campaigns. In the volume sense, they are not a rival for Kickstarter, but it is clear that they are growing their share in the TableTop Gaming and “Print & Paint” market niches.
– Scan The World. MyMiniFactory is home of a wonderful initiative. With their community curating every uploaded file, all 3D scanned historical and art objects are 3D printable without further editing.
– Stores. A marketplace for advanced designers.
– Competitions. Sponsored or in connection with various crowdfunding campaigns, including Print & Paint-type competitions.
Files: STL, Gcode, other
Part of the Prusa3D’s ecosystem.
– Gcodes. A rare and brave case when the Gcode file sharing is encouraged. We would recommend to use such files (FFF-tagged thumbnails) with an extra caution and make sure that you use the recommended 3D printer and filament.
– Competitions. Open to everyone and, in rare cases, for a specific 3D printer or filament only.
Format: STL, OBJ, other
– 3D Viewer. This is an outstanding feature. In fact, at the first glance, it looked like a browser-based 3D design software.
– AR. Models can be downloaded to Android and iOS devices as the objects for augmented reality.
– Search. Thangs’ search engine can show 3D models from other file repositories.
Other STL Sharing Platforms
More to Come
Please let us know if any particular file repository should be added to this list. If there is an outstanding feature or great user experience for the desktop 3D printer users (STL, guaranteed 3D printable, etc.) we will feature it.
3D Model Search Websites
Sometimes it is hard to find a desired STL even on a comfortable file sharing platform. In these cases, we would recommend trying the specialised 3D model search websites like Yeggi or STLfinder, for example.
More ways to Find Quality STL and Other Files for 3D Printing
– Patreon. Often talented designers, after publishing their first designs for free, turn to such crowdfunding platforms as Patreon. Premium 3D printable files and special packages are available after purchasing an upgrade to the specific tiers.
– Kickstarter. Another place to look for the quality files for 3D printing. Some of the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns are real bargains.
We hope our guide will help you to navigate and find the needed files for 3D printing. Please contact us or leave a comment if you have any suggestions.