The best sites to download free STL files, 3D models and 3D printable files for 3D printing
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.
Full list of 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|
|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|
|Printables (PrusaPrinters rebranded)||Free||Repository||2,269||x|
This table aims to list all of the websites offering paid and free STL files, 3D models, 3D designs, and 3D printable files. We decided to include the number of available 3D files (when possible) and to highlight which 3D model repositories have 3D printable files (directly ready for 3D printing).
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 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?
Take a look at some of the best sites to find free STL files for 3D printing.For 3D file repositories, size matters. The more 3D printing files, usually the more interesting the database. However, user experience is also an important factor: filters, 3D visualizer, active community, etc.
Only a handful of them match those criteria, and most sites have the same 3D models appear on a regular basis.
Here is a shortlist of the most popular and best free STL file websites with fresh content:
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 that are ready to 3D printed and a good user experience.
(You can also 3D model your own objects with tools like SelfCAD!).
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 to become one of today’s biggest 3D printing communities in the world. Users of all levels can upload, share, and download 3D printable models for free. Thingiverse also hosts 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.
Cults is a French 3D printing marketplace that 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.
TraceParts is a design library with millions of CAD files and 3D models. The site’s catalogs cover mechanical components, optics, vacuum equipment, hydraulics, heat transmission, electronics, and much more.
Pinshape was launched in 2014 and offers free and premium (paid) models for 3D printing. The site 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!
They offer 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.
YouMagine was created in 2013 by Ultimaker and has over 15,000 open-source 3D designs. Users may upload, share, and download 3D models.
The 3D designs are free and 3D printable on any 3D printer. This STL file repository features various collections to help users find inspiration and the right 3D design.
MyMiniFactory was launched in 2013 and is an STL file repository entirely dedicated to 3D printable designs. With the help of its community, MyMiniFactory tests every 3D model. Hence, the platform guarantees that any 3D design in its 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 for 3D printable files that 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 that launched in 2015. Designers from all over the world are uploading, sharing, and selling their 3D designs here.
Shapetizer does the manufacturing, shipping, and marketing, and gives part of the revenue 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. You 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 an STL file repository from which users can download 3D printable models to make 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?
There are plenty of websites where you can sell your 3D printable file or 3D model.Whether for 3D design wizards or hobbyists with good 3D modeling skills, many 3D file marketplaces allow users to put their 3D models up for sale.
The principle is simple: when a user downloads a 3D model, the designer receives earnings (minus the marketplace’s commission).
Some 3D designers choose 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 accepts support on Patreon.
The best websites and marketplaces to sell 3D models
Here are a few of our favorite 3D print file marketplaces.
Their commission is 20% of the selling price (excluding VAT), which includes bank fees (about 5% of the commission).
Pinshape adds 30% of the designer’s price, so the commission is paid by the buyer and not the designer.
The standard commission fee rate is 8.5% of the sale price (minimum $0.45) including VAT. However, this commission may be lower for non-profit organizations such as museums, schools, foundations, private collectors, etc. The commission may be higher if Threeding helps prepare the models in a 3D-printing-friendly format.
Embodi3D receives 15% of the sale price, plus $0.30 per sale (transaction fee). This website is specialized in medical STL models.
What are the most common file formats 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 or 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 numerical language used to instruct CNC (computer numerical control) 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 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.
In this article, we focus on STL file repositories, marketplaces, and search engines that are the most compatible with 3D printing. It is our selection (with the trophy emoji) of the best websites to download free STL files for 3D printing. However, there are many more to choose from in our comprehensive table.
There are thousands of excellent 3D printable models on the web! What are your favorite websites to download STL files?
In this article, we focus on STL file repositories, marketplaces, and search engines that are the most compatible with 3D printing. It is our selection (with the trophy emoji) of the best websites to download free STL files for 3D printing.
However, there are many more to choose from in our comprehensive table. There are thousands of excellent 3D printable models on the web! What are your favorite websites to download STL files? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!
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 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? What is the STL file format?
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.
Are there any sites similar to Thingiverse?
There are over 50 sites similar to Thingiverse, such as Cults, Pinshape, and MyMiniFactory. Check out the full list of STL file sites here.