If you have used a 3D printer, you have likely heard of Thingiverse. Thingiverse is the largest 3D community for model files and designs. If you want to make money from your creations or are looking for higher quality works and designers, relying solely on Thingiverse may not meet your needs. We make a list of best alternatives to Thingiverse for you to download and print STL files.
Thingiverse Alternative List:
What Is Thingiverse?
Thingiverse is the largest 3D repository and online community of numerous active makers, storing, sharing, and downloading digital files for 3D printing. Users also can leave comments and post their printed results. Its user-friendly interface and vast collection of free files strongly attract many beginners and experts to 3D print from Thingiverse. Moreover, Thingiverse is dedicated to 3D printing education, offering over a hundred free lessons and projects filtered by 'Subject' and 'Grade'.
Currently, everything on Thingiverse.com is free, meaning you can only utilize 3D model resources for personal use rather than commercial use. If your plan is to start a business with your 3D printing skills, such as offering 3D printing services and selling your model designs or 3D prints, there might be better options available than Thingiverse. Moreover, the designers on the platform providing model files vary from professionals to hobbyists, so not all models are 100% printable or of high quality. These might be reasons why many people need alternatives to Thingiverse.
Factors for Choosing a Thingiverse Alternative
There are some key factors to consider when looking for reliable sites like Thingiverse to obtain high-quality and printable 3D models or to set up a 3D printing business. The following factors can be considered:
- Price: You can explore the pricing standards of the platform. Thingiverse is a completely free website, which is very friendly for budget-limited makers. However, not all free 3D models are optimal for printing, as paid models may have higher printability and aesthetics.
- Model Design Quality: Seek websites that offer high-quality 3D models with both aesthetics and printability, you can look for indicators such as the number of designers and file download counts. These digital files used in 3D printing (often in formats such as STL, OBJ, etc.) are compatible with most slicing software and 3D printers.
- Community and Support: Popular 3D model websites often have a community where users can ask questions, and receive support when encounter issues. Some websites even regularly run 3D model design contests, encouraging user to actively participate and win valuable prizes.
- License and Copyright: Many 3D repositories will protect the rights of creators by disclosing the specific licensing terms. Generally, each digital file on these sites may include a license description provided by the author, such as 'No sharing,' 'No remixing,' 'Non-commercial,' or similar indications.
- User Experience and Interface: Ensure that the platform has a user-friendly interface, easy navigation, and clear categorization and filtering for 3D model resources. This enables everyone to quickly find what they want.
Printables is a large 3D models database and a website like Thingiverse. It offers a great user experience with an ad-free interface and easy-to-navigate menus, allowing users to find useful 3D printable models in a short time. The platform frequently hosts 3D design contests to incentivize users to create and share models. Prusa Search owns this website and has been providing all free models until December 2023, upon the launch of the 'Printables Store'. This means that some designs on the platform are now paid, allowing high-quality creations by designers to be monetized.
Cults is an ideal alternative as it is the second-largest popular 3D printing database, closely following Thingiverse. Unlike Thingiverse, which is owned by Ultimaker, Cults is an independently operated website. It claims to give back 80% of its revenue to designers, with the platform itself taking only 15%. On this site, you can find both free and high-quality paid 3D printer models available for download in various formats such as STL, OBJ, 3MF, CAD, STEP, SCAD, or DXF, DWG, SVG. The platform's model categories span a wide range, including aesthetic categories like art, fashion, jewelry, home, and architecture, as well as practical tools and funny games. However, the website experience, such as loading images, may not be as fast as Thingiverse, as Cults often use a large number of animated images like GIFs to showcase models.
MyMiniFactory is a marketplace for 3D printing designs, mainly focusing on paid 3D models, though it also offers free 3D designs for download. If you're a gaming enthusiast, MyMiniFactory is your top choice, as the website provides high-quality 3D print for tabletop figurines and miniatures. If you're a digital creator, the platform offers features like stores, tribes (a new-type subscription service), and contests, allowing you to profit from your designs. Unlike Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory guarantees that all models provided on the website are 100% printable objects, having undergone both software checks and community testing.
CGTrader is an online marketplace for licensable stock and custom 3D models, boasting a massive global community with 2 million models and 8.50 million users. While Thingiverse is a 3D model provider primarily focused on 3D printing, CGTrader offers a broader range of professional 3D models for gaming, AR/VR, advertising, animation, movies, as well as 3D printing. You can easily find free designs through search filters, but premium designs generally come at a higher cost compared to other 3D model websites, offering a more professional and detailed design.
Pinshape is another 3D model repository similar to Thingiverse. In 2016, Pinshape was acquired by Formlabs, mirroring the experience of Ultimaker acquiring Thingiverse. Additionally, Pinshape also emphasizes 3D printing education, with content categorized into 3D printing hardware and software, projects and tutorials, post-processing, etc. What sets it apart from Thingiverse is that users on this platform can both share free designs and sell 3D designs.
Different from Thingiverse, which serves as a community for 3D designs, Yeggi is a powerful search engine for 3D model resources and does not host 3D models itself. How it works is similar to Google's, but it gathers data from only all 3D communities and marketplaces, to immediately provide users with the best search results. This means that when you enter keywords in its search box, the results will link to external websites such as Thingiverse.com. This 3D file search engine claims to index nearly 5 million models, with 78% of them available for free download, and the data may continue to grow.
In comparison to Thingiverse and Yeggi, Thangs is a website that combines a search engine with a 3D community, offering users a vast array of online 3D models. Additionally, Thangs provides its own exclusive models and usually hosts design contests. The search results on Thangs come with clear filtering options, allowing users to refine their searches based on the model's source website, file type, and cost. Furthermore, users can sort the results according to relevance, popularity, downloads, and time.
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All of the above are 3D model marketplaces, offering both paid and free designs, making them excellent alternatives to Thingiverse. Cults3D stands as the second-largest 3D community, just behind Thingiverse. Printables and Pinshape provide a simple and user-friendly experience, and you can receive free 3D printing education on Pinshape. MyMiniFactory is the top choice for gamers. CGTrader offers highly professional 3D model designs. Yeggi and Thangs are powerful search engines for 3D models, but the Thangs site has its own 3D community and 3D model resources.
When you download high-quality 3D printable files from these Thingiverse alternatives, the next step is to convert the digital file into G-code so that you can start your 3D print. However, it can be frustrating if your printer's speed lags behind. I recommend the Anycubic's Kobra 2 Pro, which can accelerate your 3D printing process. It can reach impressive speeds of up to 500mm/s at its fastest, and even at regular speeds, it can go up to 300mm/s. Features like automatic bed leveling and support for remote control through an app enhance the smoothness of your 3D printing experience.