So you have made the decision to invest in 3D printing by purchasing a 3D printer? Or perhaps you’ve been thinking about it and want to know more about how it might help you?
No matter the case, there comes the point whereby you have every bit of information that you need to execute 3D printing but not enough time to rebuild or develop STL models perfectly or at all. Thankfully, several top websites exist that offer free 3D STL file downloads. Moreover, most of these sites are free; therefore, you can utilize them without altering your budget. Some even give you a choice to have your 3D model printed and delivered to you.
Moreover, electronic manufacturers in the market struggling with design limitations and supply disruptions in PCB production are turning to 3D printing to ease the process. That is because PCBs made via 3D printing are easier and faster to make compared to traditional methods. However, since there is the aspect of variety and many 3D printing websites, you might need help finding the perfect site for you. Therefore here are the best 3D printing sites in the industry.
The Best 3D Printing Websites
Sketchfab has been in the industry since 2012 when it was developed to generate an online repository for community-based three dimension models. However, since it hit the market, sketchfab has grown immensely, and now it provides both paid and free downloads.
Moreover, besides supporting both AR and VR on suitable gear, it was among the first sites to provide models made using the main 3D authoring tools. Additionally, the search function on this website makes it simple to explore different options. At the same time, your STL file is organized into categories to make it easier to explore the enormous amount of content accessible.
However, you should be aware that the site has a lot of options available, and therefore you could find yourself spending a lot of time on the website or at least more than you had anticipated. But all in all, Sketchfab is an excellent website that you should try out.
GrabCAD isn’t typically the type of website you would utilize to download STL files for free. That is because this website bears a lot of CAD models. Moreover, most of these models also come in an STL format. However, of course, you can easily download three-dimensional models in different formats and then later convert them to an STL format for three-dimensional printing. But, using this conversion method, you might have some issues with complex designs.
The GrabCAD resource section is fantastic, and it gives you access to many tutorials, e-books, and case studies that you can use to learn more about working with the site. Moreover, the site also features a GrabCAD workbench, an excellent tool you can utilize to make your work easier.
GrabCAD is a popular website with many resources and interesting models, so it might help you out a lot.
SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse
Since the first time SketchUps hit the market as a Google entity, it has been trying to be the go-to website for any 3D printing model need. Moreover, the site claims to be one of the best and the most extensive online 3D depositories in the world, with over four million free STL downloads available. Additionally, the site has an excellent user interface and a search feature that makes it super easy to navigate. To help you navigate through the many STL files on the site, SketchUp groups the files into categories.
Additionally, SketchUp has also made some updates, and now the site provides an auto STL conversion option for any SketchUp model a user uploads. Using this feature, you get to save a lot of time that you could utilize to explore the options in SketchUp 3D further. However, the site has a lot of options. Therefore, keep track of time; otherwise, you will end up spending a lot of time on the site.
Operated by Marketbot, which is one of the best 3D printers, Thingiverse offers the user access to a lot of 3-dimensional models plus a knowledgeable community. Using this site, users can find multiple 3D models which they can easily download free of charge. Moreover, the files are in STL format. Therefore, users can use the files for 3D printing without conversions. Additionally, Thingiverse developers add new models daily; therefore, you always have fresh items that you can use.
The only con when it comes to Thingiverse is the fact that not all models on the site are in STL format. Therefore, not all the models are fully converted for 3D printing. However, most of the designs are in STL format; therefore, this is a site that you should try out.
Instructables has been in the industry for a while now and has become popular primarily because of how the site provides instructions to guide users on almost every aspect of the website. Moreover, this site also offers impeccable instructions for developing 3D projects. However, unlike other websites, this site doesn’t provide 3D models. However, it offers some impeccable tips and ideas you can utilize on your present or future project.
My Mini Factory
After accessing this website, do not be discouraged by the expensive 3D models on the site’s homepage or the clean user interface. The site has been operational for a while now and iMakr is the company behind this unique 3D printing website. Therefore, when it comes to quality, you can be sure that this site will deliver without fail. Moreover, the site curates all the objects, meaning that each object uploaded on this site must be test-printed on a three-dimensional desktop printer.
To get the free models, just type free in the search bar section and you will gain access to impressive designs that are free.
My Mini Factory’s goal is to become the Google of 3 dimension printing.
3DFindIt isn’t like the other 3D printing website; it is more of the next 3D visual search engine containing billions of BIM and 3D CAD models from multiple electrical, architecture, and mechanical engineering manufacturer catalogs.
The site allows you to search for engineering information offered by multiple manufacturers worldwide efficiently. Moreover, the site has impeccable search functionality that helps users search for information pretty fast. Additionally, it also increases the efficacy in construction and engineering with the intuitive search tools, which include:
- Searching by category
- Topology/feature search
- Color Search
- 2D photo and shape search
- 3D sketch search
- Text search (parametric)
The utilization of the data in this resource is absolutely free. Moreover, most catalogs provide 150+ neutral and native file formats, for example, SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Revit, et cetera.
Free3D falls under the category of 3D printing sites with relatively small repositories. However, even though it doesn’t have a large repository, Free3D still offers paid and free 3D models.
Free3d offers various models generated via different 3D software programs. However, the download files are not in STL file format. Therefore, to use the models on this site, you have to convert them to STL first.
The site also offers multiple language options, which make it easier to search and navigate through the website.
Being a pretty new 3D printing website aiming to hit greater horizons, Free3D bears a lot of potential.
While Pinshape is generally a marketplace, it is still a great community that brings impeccable design ideas to users. Moreover, the site offers both paid and free models, which are clearly labeled to avoid confusion between the paid and the free models.
CGTrader has been around for a long time. It is a powerful platform intended for advanced and professional 3D models, of which not all the models are intended for three-dimensional printing. However, the site still contains an enormous repository of 3D models made explicitly for three-dimensional printing.
Most of the models in CGTrader are not free. However, their price range from as low as 2 USD to 500 USD. However, do not let the prices deter you because the creators found on this platform are pretty talented.
All3DP is simply a website that handles “all things three dimension printing,” hence the site’s name. The site covers impeccable 3D printing explainers and news on a daily basis. Thus it can help keep you up to date on what is happening in the 3D world.
Moreover, All3DP is also the provider of craftcloud, a three-dimension printing service marketplace that connects clients and pros via a network of manufacturers that deal with 3D printing. Using this site, you can easily place a 3D printing order while also saving money by comparing various prices from multiple providers before settling the order you want.
Craftcloud provides an extensive selection of shipping options, prices, and materials. Moreover, the site tailors the options to your location, which makes the entire process more efficient and faster.
3D Printing Printed Circuit Boards
3D printing PCBs is a technology that has hit the market recently. However, it has become pretty popular within a short period. That is because by using specialized PCB 3D printers, you can easily manufacture PCBs much faster compared to when you are using traditional methods. Moreover, in some cases, users can even utilize a standard FDM desktop 3D printer bearing a conductive filament to carry out 3D PCB printing.
To put it in perspective, it takes manufacturers days, weeks, or even months to generate a PCB when utilizing traditional methods. However, using the 3D printing technique, you can generate a working circuit board in less than 30 hours. That saves you a lot of time that you could utilize to come up with a new circuit board design.
Moreover, the 3D method offers you design freedom since, using this tech, users generate more complex designs than the rectangular circuit board in the traditional version. These complex designs include:
- Fully 3D boards
- Honeycomb structures
- Flexible circuit boards
3D printing circuit boards generally works in 2 distinct ways:
- Printing the board’s circuitry with conductive materials
- Printing a board with trenches or hollow channels and then filling them later with conductive materials.
Benefits of 3D Printed Circuit Boards
Printing circuit boards come with so many benefits, which include the following:
Fewer Waste Products
When working with a 3D printer, you only utilize the components required to make your circuit board. Therefore, you are left with less to no waste to worry about. However, when working with the traditional method, you produce a lot of waste. If not correctly handled, these waste materials can easily mill away or corrode factory equipment, affecting the cost of running the factory and eventually affecting the circuit board’s price. Therefore, 3D printing circuit boards helps you save on resources that you can utilize to create more circuit boards.
Even though some circuit board 3D printers are expensive, they can bring in hefty returns within a short period when properly used. Moreover, 3D-printed circuit boards utilize fewer components to manufacture, which makes them pretty cheap to produce.
You can make PCB prototyping and production significantly cheaper by eliminating outsourcing and shipping costs.
3D printing allows users to produce PCBs as required, eliminating the need for large inventories. Moreover, you do not have to cater to large orders coming from third-party organizations, which ultimately means that you will also eliminate the chances of disruption in your supply chain.
While using 3D printers to develop your circuit board, you can quickly achieve more accurate results compared to when you are working with traditional methods. Moreover, some 3D printers can even carry out component placement, eliminating human errors during this phase of PCB production.
Even though 3D technology has not been in the industry for a long time, it has quickly gained popularity, and now many people are rushing to benefit from this tech. Moreover, multiple sites offer impeccable assistance for 3D printing ranging from providing models for production to giving tips that you can use in your project. Moreover, due to the efficiency of 3D printing, manufacturers have found a way to mix this tech with circuit board technology. 3D printing circuit boards bear a lot of advantages, and this is, without a doubt, a significant leap in technology.