- Where to download 3D printable STL files?
- The best websites to download 3D printable files and 3D models
- How to use our list of the best websites to download free STL files or 3D printable models?
- Where can I find free STL files for 3D printers?
- Overview of the best websites to download STL files and 3D designs for 3D printing
- I am a 3D designer, where can I sell my 3D models or STL files?
Where to download 3D printable STL files?
There are many STL file repositories, 3D model marketplaces, and 3D design search engines available online. Makers needs 3D printable models (preferably in STL format, the most common format in 3D printing) before starting to 3D print.
The odds of finding something inspiring on one of these websites are pretty high! Most of the 3D model repositories in our list 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 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||2,000,000||x|
|Yeggi 🏆||Free/Paid||Search Engine||1,958,000||x|
|My Mini Factory 🏆||Free/Paid||Marketplace||60,000||x|
|XYZprinting 3D Gallery||Free/Paid||Marketplace||9,130||x|
|NIH 3D Print Exchange||Free||Repository||7,160||x|
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.
A few 3D models. Source: 3Ders, Thingiverse: model by Cushua, Nerd Approved
- Free: the 3D file 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 must pay to download a 3D file.
We classify the sites to download STL files in three categories:
- Repository: a repository is a database regrouping free 3D models only. Most STL files websites are repositories.
- Marketplace: a marketplace is a website containing both paid and free STL files.
- Search engine: 3D model search engines index thousands of 3D files from other websites to save time for users.
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?
In our table, these 3D model repositories have a trophy emoji. All of them are 100% dedicated to 3D printing. They offer a wide choice of downloadable 3D models ready to 3D print, and a good user experience.
Overview of the best websites to download STL files and 3D designs for 3D printing
We are focusing on our favorite 3D-printing-friendly websites. Here is a list of 3D printable file repositories, marketplaces, and search engines that we think are great 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 also organizes 3D design challenges quite often.
Furthermore, this 3D file repository has 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, RepRap, and more.
YouMagine was created in 2013 by Ultimaker and has over 14,000 open source 3D designs. Users may upload, share, and download 3D models. The 3D designs are free and 3D printable on any 3D printer. The STL file repository features various collections to help users find inspiration and the right 3D design.
Pinshape was launched in 2014 and 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! Pinshape offers an interesting file streaming option, allowing users to edit, slice and 3D print a 3D model directly from Pinshape without downloading the 3D model file.
Cults is a French 3D printing marketplace launched in 2014. This 3D printer file marketplace is available in English, French, and Spanish and offers both free and paid 3D models. Users can interact with each other, 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 a professional designer then creates for a fee.
MyMiniFactory was launched in 2013 and is an STL file repository entirely dedicated to 3D printable designs. MyMiniFactory, with the help of its community, tests every 3D model– so the platform guarantees that any 3D design in the repository is 100% 3D printable. The website is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Chinese. MyMiniFactory regularly hosts contests.
Yeggi is a popular search engine of 3D printable files launched in 2013. They aggregate 3D models from many 3D communities and marketplaces to offer a large choice of files for 3D printing. Yeggi’s homepage highlights the most searched and clicked 3D models. It is also possible to use some basic filters to narrow the search. On the Yeggi STL file search engine, users may create an account to save their favorite 3D models and get notifications on new releases.
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.
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 are only are available via a streaming option and not for download.
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 into categories to help with the research process. In addition, there are filters to refine the search (price, file format, and texture).
Threeding also provides a 3D printing service, so users who don’t have access to a 3D printer may order their favorite 3D models.
Bonus: nerd corner!
- NASA offers a STL file repository from which users can download 3D printable models to make many 3D prints of space-related items such as satellites, planets or spaceships. A must for space geeks 🙂
- Africanfossils.org is a 3D file database where there are many free 3D models of African fossils, from animals to 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 offers his 3D designs for free on Cults., Thingiverse, YouMagine, and MyMiniFactory but is seeking support 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 non-profit organizations such as museums, educational organizations, foundations, private collectors, etc. The commission may be higher if Threeding helps prepare the models in a 3D-printing-friendly format.
What are the most used files format for 3D printing?
The STL format is the most common file format in 3D printing. STL stands for stereolithography and is originally a 3D Systems creation. 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 that Wavefront’s Advanced Visualizer uses for polygonal of free-form objects. Many design software can export to OBJ and this format is also common in 3D printing.
VRML stands for “Virtual Reality Modeling Language”. VRML is a 3D digital file format that supports color. Therefore, full-color 3D printers or dual extruder 3D printers may use this format.
AMF stands for Additive Manufacturing File Format and is becoming more and more standard in 3D printing. AMF supports color. Most of all, it is possible to compress AMF files to about half the size of an STL file.
G-Code is a numeric language used to instruct computerized machines, including 3D printers. In the case of 3D printers, the G-Code is the actual file that the 3D printer reads. The G-Code 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). It is possible to generate G-Code files from STL files or other formats using a slicer software. Slicing software converts 3D drawings into horizontal layers with instructions for the 3D printer.
How to download an STL file?
Downloading STL files is a very easy process. Here are the steps:
- Go to a 3D model repository/marketplace (see our list above)
- Find a 3D design 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
How to open an STL file?
To open an STL file, there are two main options:
- STL viewer: there are many free ones online, without having to download any software.
- 3D design software: after downloading the software, it is possible to open an STL file and edit it.
However, there are many more to choose from in our comprehensive table. There are thousands of excellent 3D printable models on the web!
Model by Print That Thing on Pinshape.
What file format is used for 3D printing?
The most common 3D printing file format that a 3D printer uses is GCode. This file type is a set of instructions for the 3D printer (temperature, movements, etc.) generated by a slicing software from a 3D file format (STL, OBJ, AMF, 3MF, and more). STL is the most popular 3D file format.
What does STL file mean?
An STL file is a 3D model of a particular object in 3D design software. STL stands for Stereolithography, as it was the file developed for the world’s first 3D printers which used stereolithography technology.
How do I make an STL file?
To make an STL file, users need 3D modeling software such as AutoCAD, Tinkercad, Blender, etc. Once the 3D model is created, it’s possible to choose different export formats, including STL.