Beyond Thingiverse, My Ten Favorite 3D Model Repositories

By on April 24th, 2016 in learning

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Everyone knows Thingiverse, it’s the largest printable 3D model repository around. But what are some other ones to consider? 

Thingiverse was launched in 2008 when MakerBot was started. The heads of MakerBot at the time correctly realized that 3D printers would be far less useful unless they had 3D content to print, and that the majority of buyers would be unable to easily design their own custom 3D objects for printing. 

Thus, Thingiverse was born, and in the spirit of open source principles in force at MakerBot at the time, Thingiverse operated in a very open manner: almost anything was welcomed and shared and modified freely. Of course, some obviously nasty items were banned, but by and large the site operates to this day with a similar approach. 

This led to two things: 

  1. A staggering number of 3D models. In October, Thingiverse announced they’d received a ridiculous 1,000,000 uploads of 3D content. By now that number is certainly far higher. 
  2. An increasingly difficult experience to find desired high-quality 3D models, simply because many models were not actually printable and there were so many to find your way through. 

Finally, a controversy erupted in the Thingiverse community in 2014 in which the company was perceived to have patented some customer-generated ideas in spite of the open source patterns.

This led to some users seeking alternatives to Thingiverse, and that’s still the case today. Where are good sites for finding quality, 3D printable items at low cost? I put together a list of ten I would recommend to anyone. In no particular order:

MyMiniFactory: A huge printable 3D model repository in which EVERY 3D model has been certified printable by actually printing it. 

3DShook: A 3D model by subscription service that provides new unique and functional 3D models on a regular basis

Cults3D: A long-time repository with many interesting 3D models and projects

YouMagine: Ultimaker’s companion 3D content repository, which contains many multi-part 3D printing projects

CGTrader: With currently 260,000 3D models, this is a site that has many incredible pieces, but many are priced highly as a result

GradCAD: A community of 3M engineers sharing 1.3M free to download CAD models

Cuboyo: A buy and sell printable 3D model repository with many categories and 3D models

Pinshape: A beautifully constructed 3D model repository containing many unique items

3DAGOGO: A popular repository aligned with Astroprint containing many free and some low-priced 3D models

3D Share: A busy 3D marketplace for designers and buyers, but with very low pricing and many free 3D models

Yes, there are dozens of additional 3D model repositories available, some large, many small, some specializing in one aspect or another. There are several large repositories that provide printable 3D models as a sideline, and though they didn’t make this list, they can provide useful 3D models, too. My apologies if you’re not on the list above. 

You can find more repositories on our 3D Buying Guide in the Models section, if you want to look further.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!