Where to Find 3D Printable Models For Free

3D Model Repositories, directories, where you can find 3D printable models

The internet is a big place and you can find just about anything on it; thankfully, free 3D printing models are readily available, too. One of the best known 3D file repositories is Thingiverse, started by MakerBot, one of the best known desktop 3D printer brands.

Thingiverse, like many of the other repositories that I highlight here, allow you to browse all the creations and dive into details about the work that you can, of course, download via the STL File offered (although some will be in other file formats, depending on how they were created).

Some of these repositories are actual communities and require that you create a free account using an email and password.

SketchFab is a relatively new entrant to the 3D download repository field, but one which I like because they have built this very useful, robust, universal 3D Viewer. By Universal, I mean that it works in most browsers and on smartphones and that allows you to embed your models just about anywhere. Like other collections, no every model is 3D printable, but many are.

GrabCAD was built to help mechanical engineers build products faster, but that does not mean the rest of us are not welcome there. They have a 3D printing category to make searching faster. At press time, September 2015, they have almost one million CAD files in their library. Fastest path to 3D printable models, go to the GrabCAD Library where I linked directly to the 3D Printing category.

Before I share some other 3D libraries, let me tell you about two specialized 3D Model Search Engines:

Yobi3D is a Search Engine for 3D Printable Models as is the similarly named Yeggi. Both of these will scour the internet for you and bring up 3D models from a wide range of sites.

TurboSquid is a well-known, premium 3D model repository, possibly the first to allow you to sell your 3D models and designs as well as for people to buy them.

Many of the models are available for a fee, but some are free. You can sort by filetype and although they do not have STL as a filter choice, they do have .OBJ, which is often easy to convert and in many cases the images/models shown on that search criteria will also show .STL in the notes.

Pinshape bills itself as the ultimate 3D printing community, but it is purpose-built as a marketplace, too. Think Etsy for 3D models as you can open a storefront to sell your designs and models. It is easy to search, too, and find just the right model that you can download, for fee or free, and print on your own machine. The link above goes direct to the 3D Printable Models page.

CGTrader allows you to buy and sell professional designs for 3d printing and computer graphics.

Two others that I have to mention, and don’t worry, I’ll be adding more (feel free to get in touch to make suggestions, additions to this list – I can be reached at the TJ McCue Bio Page here or clicking above.)

The NASA 3D Resources page has a bunch of printable 3D models available. Pretty cool that our space agency makes their work available to the public, of course, our tax dollars make that possible. But still, Yay NASA!

The Smithsonian is doing a massive 3D digitization project and it is available at the Smithsonian X 3D site where you can check out digital models in your browser and download some of them.

Many come in .OBJ format, but you can either print that direct or easily convert it.