Top 5 Sites for Free STL files
lets say you have just unboxed your shiny new 3D printer and you are just dying to get it going. But wait! What do you print? or even more importantly where do you find your first printable STL file? Its most likely you are keen to get your print on and don’t want to spend time designing in your choice of CAD software, well there are free communities out there with content available out there for you to download now.
For those who don’t know what an STL file is, Wikipedia states that “STL stands for STereoLithography, it is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems.”
It is essentially the Word document to your desktop printer, the file you use to create a physical printed object.
Here is my personal list of 5 Top sites for free STL files.
No 1: Thingiverse
Thingiverse has a strong community of content creators that provides STL files for free, although there is an option to leave a tip of $1 should you be feeling generous.
The site allows anyone to create an account and upload their designs, so it should be noted that not all of the designs are appropriate for 3D printing, but there have been only a few that I have come across that required some tweaking in Meshmixer. The openness of allowing anyone to upload just shows how creative and imaginative others have.
There is also an education page that aims to teach and inspire younger generations of different age groups science, engineering, technology, art, history, geography, languages and special education while using additive manufacturing techniques.
A majority of the content is provided under a creative commons licence which means you can’t use models for commercial gain, also if you display your makes you must attribute the original creator.
This is easily my favourite STL file sites, mainly because of the level of creativity by the community as well as everything being free.
No 2: MyMiniFactory
The quality of prints available are high quality and a lot of content is designed by professional or experienced individuals so you can be sure a majority of these prints are 3D printer ready.
The site is easy on the eye and a pleasure to navigate, content is laid out well and showcases the designs in an appealing way.
All content is provided for free download but if you wish to leave a tip of $5 you can. Again a majority of the content is provided under a creative commons licence which means you can’t use models for commercial gain, also if you display your makes you must attribute the original creator.
No 3: Pinshape
Pinshape is a great resource for STL files, With an active community and education centre very much like Thingiverse or MyMinifactory. However not all files are free, some premium models are sold through Pinshape but its not like it isn’t worth paying, a majority of the models are created by professionals or experienced model designers to a high quality.
Most of these models are ready to print with little editing required, just download and print.
Again all models are provided under creative commons licence and should not be intended for commercial use unless you get permission from the owner of the design.
No 4: The Forge
The Forge is a great source of nerdy figurines, miniatures and toys for the child in all of us. All of the models are created by one person known as Zheng3, although there are not as many designs available in comparison to other sites featured in this list, Zheng3 has put a lot of hard work in to all of his designs in a cool and fun way, you should defiantly check out his hard work.
All models are provided for free and distributed under the creative commons share alike licence.
No 5: Yeggi
If all of the other sites in this list let you down, then give Yeggi ago. Yeggi is a 3D model search engine that takes your search request and throws back results from around the internet. However you need to be aware that not all 3D models are printable, make sure you are downloading STL files as this site will throw out some 3D renders that is mostly used for animation and game design. Some files are not free as results are provided from multiple sources.
So that’s my favoriate top 5 sites for free STL files for 3D printing, tell us what you think, do you agree? whe would love to also see your prints from any of the sites featured in this list.
Thanks for reading.
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