So, you ve gotten your new, high-tech 3D printer, brought it home, and set it up . . . now what will you print? Some 3D printers come with design software included, while others refer you to the manufacturer s website for software downloads so that you can design unique printed objects that exactly fit your needs. But if you re a beginner or you simply don t want to spend too much time and effort on designing your own models, try letting someone else do the work by browsing through one of these 3D model websites. Each one offers a variety of free models; some also provide apps that allow you to customize preexisting designs. You may find just what you were looking for   or stumble across something that you didn t even know you wanted. 


Manufacturer Websites
The first place you should look is the website of the company that produces your 3D printer. Cubify has an extensive collection of free 3D models that have been created and uploaded by the 3D printing community. There are company-made apps as well, so you can customize products such as phone and tablet cases, figurines, jewelry and toys. Airwolf3D also provides a few free sample designs that you can use to test out your printer, including a miniature catapult. Not all manufacturers offer free files right now, but it is possible that those who don t now soon will, and since the designs on the manufacturer s site will be known to work well with your particular printer, it is a great place to start.

This community-supplied database contains over 100,000 free 3D models created and uploaded by engineers from all over the world. You can easily download files for objects ranging from figures of humans, animals and plants to automobiles, musical instruments and electronics   and every file on the site is completely free.

CG Trader

Unlike GrabCAD, the majority of CG Trader s files are available for sale, but they do offer a selection of free models. Don t worry about combing through pages and pages of models; the site provides a filtering tool so that you can easily narrow your results down to include only the free files.

3D ContentCentral
This site offers a very practical variety of free 3D models comprised mostly of hardware such as gears, knobs, bolts and screws. These free files are provided by corporations as well as users, allowing you to create your own replicas of existing objects as well as giving you the opportunity to request models of the items that you need.

With all the well-crafted options available on these sites, it might be easy to get carried away in printing miniature motorcycles, T. rex skeletons and Eiffel Towers. Just remember that these free 3D models are the result of hard work by someone who generously provided their design at no charge. Pay it forward by uploading your designs to these 3D model websites as well!

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