Here are some of our favorite websites to download 3D printable files.
1) Thingiverse (http://www.thingiverse.com/) – Thingiverse is arguably the largest collection of user-submitted 3D printable files on the internet with over 100,000 free designs—and the site continues to grow quickly. An account is not necessary to download the files, but if you do create an account you can set up a user profile, save a collection of things and upload your own designs.
Thingiverse is part of MakerBot and the 3D printable items on this site are optimized to print on a MakerBot or other fused deposition modelling (FDM) printers.
2) Educational – There are a number of educational sites that offer 3D printables and so I lumped them together. These sites could potentially change the way learning takes place in the classroom and at home:
- NASA (http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/models/printable) – Nasa has released a collection of free 3D printable files that includes satellites, crater formations, and meteorites. More files are being added as they become available. Some of the files may need to be edited to make them 3D print better and NASA is welcoming users’ experiences and feedback to continue to improve the website. This is a good resource for students, teachers, and anyone interested in NASA and space.
- Smithsonian (http://3d.si.edu/) – The Smithsonian has released a number of their artifacts as 3D printable models. These artifacts include the Wright Flyer, Gunboat Philadelphia, Lincoln Life Mask, Amelia Earhart’s Flight Suit and more. These are a fascinating collection of 3D models. Even if you do not have a 3D printer, you can use the imbedded 3D viewer to explore the models.
- British Geological Survey (http://www.3d-fossils.ac.uk/home.html) - The GB3D Type Fossil Project aims to create a database of all of the types of specimens held in British archives. This database contains information, images, and 3D files for each fossil. This allows researches, students, and others to download a 3D file of a fossil and 3D print it so they can study a physical copy of the file. All of the information is free. In our lab at WhiteClouds, we 3D printed one of the fossils on a few different 3D printers. The results were excellent—even on the consumer FDM 3D printer. The fossil created by the full-color ProJet 660 was so life-like it was hard to tell that it was not real.
- NIH 3D Print Exchange (http://3dprint.nih.gov/discover) - This website is “an open, comprehensive, and interactive website for searching, browsing, downloading, and sharing biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational material.” The NIH 3D Print Exchange provides free 3D printable files of physiological models as well as lab instruments. All of the files are user-generated. The site also has an online tool to help users create scientifically-relevant, 3D-printable files by submitting medical imaging, molecular data, and image stacks.
3) Yeggi (http://www.yeggi.com) - Yeggi is a search engine for 3D printable files. The site has indexed 1000s of files from other databases. After you enter a search term, Yeggi produces the most relevant results. You can also view the most popular 3D printable files and sort your search by the most popular or the latest 3D files.
4) My Mini Factory (http://www.myminifactory.com) - My Mini Factory has many free, tested, 3D printable files. If you do not have a 3D printer at home, or would rather not send the file to a 3D printing service, you can also buy the 3D printed item.
If you are a designer, you can upload your designs to My Mini Factory and make some extra money. After you upload an STL file of your design, the team at My Mini Factory will test print your file on one of their FDM machines. If the file is printable, they will add it to their site for others to download. If the file is not printable, a designer will work with you to make it printable.
5) Bld3r (http://www.bld3r.com) - Bl3der is a free website where you can download and share 3D printable files. The site also has a large database of user-submitted tutorials that teach about 3D printing and 3D design software. There is also a section for user-submitted 3D printing news and a wiki.
You can view tutorials, news and download files without an account but if you want to share content, you will be required to create an account.
6) YouMagine (https://www.youmagine.com) – YouMagine is a place where people passionate about 3D printing can share ideas and 3D printable files and collaborate on projects. The Ideas section sets this site apart. It allows you to post an idea and recruit help to make your idea happen.
You can also browse and download free 3D printable objects. The objects are categorized in 3D printer parts and enhancements, Art, Education, Fashion and many more. There are many unique items on YouMagine not found on other sites.
7) TurboSquid (http://www.turbosquid.com) – TurboSquid provides 3D models for professional use. If you are a game developer, news agency, architect, visual effects studio, advertiser, or creative professional, this might be the site for you. You can search the site for 3D printable files to find files that are ready to print.
The 3D models on TurboSquid are top notch but be prepared to pay for them.
8) GrabCAD (http://grabcad.com) – GrabCAD is a 3D model site with a specialty in mechanical engineering. Here you will find nuts, bolts, springs and other mechanical parts. However, the site also has a plethora of full models—many of which are 3D printable and free.
This is a fun site to browse around and explore all of the mechanisms. You can use the search tool to find the file you are looking for or search by Recently added, Most linked, Most downloaded, and Most commented. You can download files without an account but you will need to create an account to share files on GrabCAD.
9) Sketchup 3D Warehouse (https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/) – 3D Warehouse specialized in architecture. If you are looking for architectural models, this is the site to visit. However, there are models of many other items too. While some of the models are ready to print and you can search for those models, there are many other models that will need to be checked, and maybe modified, before printing.
Sketchup also has many textures and patterns you can download and use in your creations.
Sketchup uses your Google account as your signin. Once you are signed in, you can upload files and save your favorite files to a collection.
10) TraceParts (http://www.traceparts.com) – TraceParts provides free STL files for parts and tools. For example, if you want to print a ¼ inch wrench, this is the site where you will find the file. Not all of the parts on this site are ready-to-print but many of the files are 3D printable. We tested a small ¼ inch wrench on our MakerBot and it turned out great.
You will have to create a TraceParts account in order to download files.