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3D printing is a growing rapidly among people who aren’t CAD experts or engineers. With the help of great 3D models and CAD data repositories, even the novice printer can create some amazing projects using free 3D models.

Check out these four tried-and-true resources for free 3D designs, advice, and inspiration.

Pinshape

This open community offers downloadable 3D content. You can also upload 3D printable content to sell or share at no cost. This site offers a means by which to order a physical print, as well. With an interface similar to Pinterest, this platform is user friendly. It’s a great stop for people new to 3D printing.

Pros

  • With a decent selection of high quality models, Pinshape is dedicated to advocating for designers
  • High quality models are also available for a fee set by the designer

Cons

  • Fewer designs on this platform are geared toward people who build their own printers and tinkerers

Thingverse

This platform allows users to create groups around any topic for 3D design collaboration. This platform is great for beginners looking for easy projects and endless inspiration. It’s also an excellent place to interact with experienced users.

Pros

  • As the first big player in the desktop 3D printing design market, they offer Reprap and DIY printer parts and upgrades that are hard to find elsewhere
  • The ability to contribute to a Thing by liking, collecting, making, and remixing

Cons

  • Check their latest Terms of Service (they’re still owned by Makerbot).  They’ve gotten some heat by having some wording that makes it seem as if they own everything you post.  This Hackaday article explains more.  If this is important to you, check the ToS of all sites you post your work on.

GrabCAD

This building community allows anyone to access cloud based software without downloading it onto their computer. This plug and play tool is a great place for new designers to start learning about CAD.

Pros

  • Offers pretty much every category of 3D model
  • Good selection of parametric CAD data (Ex: Catia, Inventor, Solidworks)
  • Great for printing parts like stepper motors, gears, pulleys, etc. to use as mockups for machines

Cons

  • It’s necessary to evaluate the data to make sure it’s 3D printable on your printer since it isn’t organized by “3D Printing”

Yobi3D

Enter a search term and let Yobi3D act is the Google of the 3D printing world. This useful tool is essential for anyone who loves to tinker.

Pros

  • This is a search engine that makes it easy to find models across many different repositories
  • Easy to spin a model in the browser

Cons

  • No option to interact with the poster of the model, but it does link to the original site where the model is from.

For more information on the free resources we like best, check out this section of our website.