The best sites to download free STL files, 3D models and 3D printable files for 3D printing
There are many STL files repositories, 3D models marketplaces and 3D designs search engines available online. Makers needs 3D printable models (preferably in STL format, the most used format in 3D printing) before starting 3D printing and the odds of them finding something inspiring in one of these websites are pretty high.
Most of these 3D models repositories are completely or partially free, so no need to spend a lot of money to get amazing 3D models.
We created this list of the best websites to download STL files for 3D printers to help you make the most out of your 3D printer and unleash your creativity. Please see our methodology below the table for more details on how we made this ranking of the best sites to download 3D printable STL files.
The best websites to download 3D printable files and 3D models
|Website||Price||Category||Number of 3D models||3D printable files|
|STL Finder||Free/Paid||Search Engine||2000000||x|
|My Mini Factory 🏆||Free||Repository||20000||x|
|XYZprinting 3D Gallery||Free/Paid||Marketplace||6200||x|
|NIH 3D Print Exchange||Free||Repository||3384||x|
|Dremel Idea Builder||Free||Repository||100||x|
|Yeggi 🏆||Free/Paid||Search Engine||x|
3D models (sources: 3Ders, Thingiverse: model by Cushua, Nerd Approved).
How to use our list of the best websites to download free STL files or 3D printable models?
Here are some explanations on how to use our list of the best websites to download free 3D models for 3D printers.
- Free: the 3D files repository is entirely free
- Free/paid: the STL file marketplace offers a mix of free and paid 3D designs
- Paid: the 3D models marketplace is an online store where users have to pay to download a 3D file
We classified the sites to download STL files in three categories:
- Repository: a repository is a database regrouping only free 3D models. This category regroups most of the STL files websites.
- Marketplace: a marketplace is a website containing both paid and free STL files
- Search engine: 3D models search engines index thousands of 3D files from other websites, to save time in your research.
3D printable files
The sites with an X in the “3D printable files” column are either 100% 3D printable files or have an option to filter on 3D printable designs only.
Where can I find free STL files for 3D printers?
For 3D files repositories, size matters. The more 3D printing files, usually the more interesting the database. But the user experience is also an important factor: filters by categories, 3D visualiser, active community, etc. Only a handful of them are matching those criteria, making the same 3D models to come up on a regular basis. Here is a shortlist of the most popular and best free STL files websites:
We have those 3D models repositories using the 🏆 emogi in the table. All those 3D printer files repositories are 100% dedicated to 3D printing. They offer a wide choice of downloadable 3D models ready to be 3D printed, and a good user experience. To find all 3D repositories, marketplaces and search engines offering free 3D printing designs, you can use the filter on the price column of our table below of the best websites to download free STL files.
Overview of the best websites to download STL files and 3D designs for 3D printing
Thingiverse was launched in 2008 by MakerBot and has grown today into one of the biggest 3D printing communities in the world. Users of all levels can upload, share and download 3D printable models for free. Thingiverse is also well known to regularly organize 3D design challenges. This 3D file repository has also a very active community interacting in the many discussion groups of the platform. The conversation topics vary from specific 3D printer models, to Star Wars, to RepRap and more. Go to website.
YouMagine was created in 2013 by Ultimaker and has today over 11,000 open source 3D designs. Users can upload, share and download 3D models. The 3D designs are free and 3D printable on any 3D printer.
The STL file repository is divided in various collections to help you find inspiration and the right 3D design. Go to website.
Pinshape was launched in 2014 and already reports a community of over 70,000 makers. This STL file marketplace offers free and premium (paid) models for 3D printing. Pinshape supports STL and OBJ formats and ZIP files containing STL or OBJ files. Pinshape was acquired by resin 3D printer manufacturer Formlabs in 2016 after announcing they had run out of funds. Close call, for the greater good of the 3D printing community!
Cults. is a French 3D printing marketplace launched in 2014. This 3D printer files marketplace is available in English, French and Spanish and offers both free and paid 3D models.
Users can interact with each others, ask questions and save their favorite 3D designs for a later 3D print. Cults. also introduced an on-demand 3D design feature where users can request a custom 3D design, which will be created by a professional designer for a fee. Go to website.
MyMiniFactory was launched in 2013 and is an STL files repository entirely dedicated to 3D printable designs. MyMiniFactory, with the help of its community, tests every 3D model, so any 3D design in the repository is 100% guaranteed 3D printable. If you don’t have a precise idea on what you want to 3D print, you can browse among the different categories. On the contrary, if you have a very specific idea of a 3D model and you can’t find it, you always can make a design request. 3D designers will create and then share the 3D model desired. The website is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish and German. MyMiniFactory regularly hosts challenges in partnership with 3D printing brands and new technologies companies. Go to website.
Yeggi is a popular search engine of 3D printable files launched in 2013. Yeggi aggregates models from many 3D communities and marketplaces to offer a large choice of files for 3D printing. To help you in your research, Yeggi highlights on its homepage the most searched and clicked 3D models. You can also use some basic filters to narrow your search. On the Yeggi STL file search engine, you can create a user account to save your favorite 3D models and get notifications on new releases. Go to website.
Shapetizer is a digital marketplace for STL files and 3D printable models launched in 2015. Designers from all over the world are uploading, sharing and selling their 3D designs on the 3D marketplace. Shapetizer does the manufacturing, shipping and marketing parts and gives a part of the revenue from the sale to the 3D designer (Shapetizer takes a commission on the sale).
Registered users can 3D print models for free or not, depending on the 3D design.
To protect designers’ intellectual property on 3D designs, some 3D models can’t be downloaded and only are available via a streaming option. Go to website.
Threeding is an online 3D printing marketplace, founded in 2013, offering free and paid 3D printable models. Users can upload, share or sell and download 3D models. All the 3D designs are classified in categories to help with the research process. You can in addition use filters to refine even more the search (price, file format and texture).
Threeding also offers a 3D printing service, so users who don’t have access to a 3D printer can order the 3D printed version of their favorite 3D models. Go to website.
Bonus: nerd corner
- NASA 🔬 offers a STL files repository from which you can download 3D printable models to make many 3D prints of space-related items such as satellites, planets or spaceships. A must for space geek
- Africanfossiles.org 🔬 is a 3D files database where you can download for free many 3D models of African fossils, from human to animals or ancient tools.
I am a 3D designer, where can I sell my 3D models or STL files?
Some 3D designers are choosing to share their 3D models for free but in return ask for financial support on collaborative platforms such as Patreon. For example the designer Agustin Flowalistik is giving away his 3D designs for free on Cults., Thingiverse, YouMagine and MyMiniFactory but is seeking support of the 3D printing community on Patreon.
The best websites and marketplaces to sell 3D models
Our favorite marketplace to sell 3D models is Pinshape, as it has a large and active user community and a very nice interface.
- Commission rate: 20% of the selling price without taxes
- Commission rate: 30% of the selling price (including VAT)
- Commission rate: The standard commission fee rate is 8.5% of the sale price including VAT but minimum USD 0.45/ EUR 0.45. However, this commission may be lower for nonprofit organizations such as museums, educational organizations, foundations, private collector, etc. The commission may be higher if Threeding helps you to prepare your models in a 3D printing friendly format.
What are the most used files format for 3D printing?
The STL format is the most used file format in 3D printing. STL stands for stereolithography and was originally created by 3D Systems. It is the main 3D file format used for FFF and FDM desktop 3D printers. This format approximates the surfaces of a solid model with triangles: the more triangles, the more accurate the 3D design.
OBJ is an open file format used by Wavefront’s Advanced Visualizer for polygonal objects or free forms ones. Many designs softwares can export to OBJ and this format is often used in 3D printing.
VRML stands for “Virtual Reality Modeling Language”. VRML is a 3D digital file format supporting color, therefore it can be used with 3D printers that have at least two extruders or full-color 3D printers.
AMF stands for Additive Manufacturing File Format and is a 3D model file format starting to become standard. AMF supports color and can be compressed to about half the size of a compressed STL file making it very interesting.
G-Code is a numeric language used by people to instruct computerized machines including 3D printers. In the case of 3D printers, the G-code is the actual file which will be read by the 3D printer (via SD card or USB in general). The Gcode file contains the instructions for the 3D printer to build the object layer by layer (starting point, the direction and the speed of the nozzle etc). G-codes files are generated from STL files or other 3D files formats using a slicer software, which will convert a 3D drawing into horizontal layers with instructions on how to build them for the 3D printer.
How to open an STL file?
To open an STL file there are two main options:
- Use an STL viewer: you can find many free ones online. You don’t even need to download a software, so it won’t take any space on your computer.
- Use a 3D design software: you have to download a software and from it you can open your STL file and edit it.
How to download an STL file?
Downloading STL files is a very easy process. Here are the steps:
- Go on a 3D model repository/marketplace of your choice (see our list above)
- Find a 3D design you like using the filters or the search bar (if there are a lot of “likes” on a 3D design it usually means it’s good)
- Click on the 3D model and read all the characteristics to make sure that’s the one
- Click on download
There are thousands of excellent 3D printable models on the web, you just need to find one and start 3D printing 😉
Now that you know where to find amazing 3D models, you just need a good 3D printer to start printing. To find the perfect match, check out our article of the best 3D printers for 2017.
Model by Print That Thing on Pinshape