6 Great 3D Printer Sites for Free or Paid STL Files (+4 extras!)

3D printing is booming.  Every year brings us better print quality and vastly improving ease of use.  Even looking back 5 years it’s come such a long way. 

The performance for the best 3D printers is amazing and prices are very affordable now. If you’ve recently gotten into 3D printing, you’re jumping in at a good time.

I’m writing this article to answer the same questions I had when I first started:  Where do I go for the best stl files?  What sites are safe, who has the best stuff, can I find free stls files, and all the rest.  

These 6 sites will give you a great foundation for your hobby.  If you’re looking for a Dragon for your D&D 5e game, or some terrain for your Warhammer 40k army, you should check out a few sites rather than rely on just one.  I would personally try them all, and settle in on your personal favorites.

Six Great 3D Printer Websites to Find Paid and Free STL Files

1.  Thingiverse

Approximate Users:  2 million per month

STL Files:  Free STLs only.

Thingiverse is the biggest site for free 3D printing files.  With over 2 million visitors just from search alone, it’s clear why it’s first on my list.  While many people do know about it, if you’re just starting out it might be new to you. 

Thingiverse was created by MakerBot back in 2008.  MakerBot is a 3D printer manufacturer and still has quite a number of printers.  If you’re interested in trying your hand at creating things, maybe adding a change or improvement, you can give their customizer a shot.

The biggest advantage is the huge library of free stl files available.  There is no cost to use the site and thingiverse allows designers to upload and share their original 3D files with the community.  

The search functionality is very good, and they have a range of categories for you to narrow things down.  I’m a fan of looking at popular 

On the down side, free STLs are often lesser quality than the paid STLs you can find in other places.  Still, it’s the perfect place to start your hobby.  

2.  MyMiniFactory

Approximate Users:  Over 300k per month

STL Files:  Free and Paid 

MyMiniFactory is another well-known 3D printing site and is probably my overall favorite. They have a lot of content for gamers and you’ll find professional sculpts here.  They are often paid STLs but you can also find many free options.  

For example I liked this Apprentice Mage a while back and ended up paying to download the STL for her.  The process is simple, you just pay a fee and they’ll allow the download.  

So you can see there, I paid for the STL and 90% goes to the designer, which is great.  I like finding artists on MyMiniFactory and supporting them.  One of the best ways to find them is looking at the free STLs.  Here’s an example of that:  Bounty Hunter II

This Mandolorian sculpt is awesome, and free.  Obviously this is just the file for the print, so you’d need to have a printer, and then paint it afterwards.  You can also see above that the creator has other sculpts available.  Where it says “30 Objects”, you can click that and see his other work.  Some free, some paid.

Here is another free file for my Warhammer 40k fans:  Battle Brother

This is for a painting contest and was released only just last week.  Great model and honestly I could see using this as a Paladin in DnD if you’re not into Space Marines.

Many users also have Patreons, which you can join to support their work and get more STLs from your favorite artists.  You can also follow the creators you like on MyMiniFactory and get notified of new releases.

3.  Cults3D

Approximate Users:  1.4 million per month

STL Files:  Free and Paid STLs.

Cults3D is another large site for STLs.  It’s another site I always check when I’m looking for something to print.  Once again you’ll find free and paid stuff here.  I can usually find a great sculpt for free when I search it.

You will see overlap in files on these platforms by the way.  Meaning the same files you see on MyMiniFactory or Thingiverse might show up on Cults and others.  

Another thing to keep in mind that with these files, you can print as many copies as you want.  Any scale you want.  So even paid files have enormous value if you’re printing multiples.  So you might not have to restrict yourself and only download free stl files.  

Actually in writing this article I came across this free STL on Cults3D

Awesome.  This is a WH40k figure but I can totally see dropping that on my D&D table.

4.  Pinshape

Approximate Users:  100k per month

STL Files:  Free and Paid STLs.

Pinshape is one of the spots I like to check for non gaming prints.  They do have stls you can use for board game minis, D&D stuff, Star Wars, Warhammer, Marvel… the usual IPs.  They also have practical things like a keychain/phone stand, planters, and all kinds of fun gadgets.  

So for example this would be fun to print for my daughter:

If you’re looking to find stl files for 3d printing, this should be on your list of best websites.  I like to browse them all and find some 3D printable models to add to my collection.

5.  Printables by Prusa

Approximate Users:  600k+ per month

STL Files:  Free and Paid STLs.

Printables is a website developed by Prusa Research, a leading manufacturer of 3D printers.   Prusa is a big name in 3D printing, especially for the old school creators.  

As for files, it’s another to add to your list of websites to download stls from.  You can download models, toys, tools or even this cat house:

Printables also has tutorials and guides, so it’s a great resource to check out.  They are on the high end of 3D printing, but known for their high quality prints on FDM printers.  They make Resin SLA printers and the newest cutting edge designs.  

6.  LootStudios

Approximate Users:  7,000+ per month

STL Files:  Mostly Paid STLs with some Freebies.

My final entry here will be Loot Studios.  I wanted to add them because they have a good mix of original fantasy and sci-fi miniatures.  You can find characters, furniture, modular terrain, monsters and more.  

If you’re interested in tabletop miniatures, you should give them a look.  I would start with the Free Mini Pack they offer, or the Legend of the 5 Rings free models.

Again these are typically paid files, so you should expect very high quality and all supports needed.  Their 3D models are all really well done. 

Four Extra Sites to Consider for your STLs

Outside our top 6 let me just quickly list these other four sources to check.  I might not necessarily start here, but you should familiarize yourself with them as you get more into the hobby.

1.  Patreon:  Many roads will lead to patreon.  A lot of the creators have a presence here and you can subscribe to them for the stls they have.  Patreon can also be a good source for free, high quality prints.  

Creators sometimes offer free stl files to the public as a way to showcase their designs.  I’ve listed a few above but you can certainly search Patreon for them as well.

2.  Hero ForgeThis is a great site for customized miniatures.  I always go there when I want to play around with new D&D character designs.  You can have Hero Forge print the miniatures for you, or buy the STL for a lower price.  

In fact Hero Forge has a couple of free STLs available, one being this cool Paladin:

3.  Eldritch Foundry:  This is another site that does customized miniatures.  They feature a great range of customizations to try out.  Different vibe than Hero Forge and that’s a good thing, I like different options.   

Eldritch offers a couple of free stls as well, and they have packages of “all you can download” for 10$ a month.  Honestly a great place to look into if you’re planning a new army, or a D&D campaign.  

4.  Kickstarter:  This is similar to Patreon in the sense that a lot of roads lead to Kickstarter hah.  I have been printing for a while now and I can get bombarded with new kickstarters that temp me into backing them.  

Honestly it’s one of the best websites to download stls from.  My suggestion is simply go to the home page and search “stl”.  You’ll find plenty of options, including some “pay what you want” offers.  You can find 3d printable characters, monsters, terrain, vehicles, buildings and more.

Factors to Consider While Choosing a 3D Printer Website

Ease of Use

Pretty straight forward here but honestly a lot of the stl sites were not great up until fairly recently.  It was tough to find anything, files seemed sketchy and unreliable.  Now most big sites have great search functionality.  You can click into categories, filter results, and sort by popularity and more.

All of the sites here have good scores in Ease of Use.  I would say though that it can still be tough to find what you want.  That’s why I suggest a list of best sites that allow you to download for free, as well as offer paid content.  

File Quality and Compatibility

This has evolved to be less of a concern these days.  I feel comfortable with the stl files on all the sites listed above.  I would say that if you want to be sure of it and find the best options, look for files that have some track record.  Multiple downloads, a review score, read the reviews if it’s a mixed response.  

As you get more into the hobby you’ll start to recognize what formats your slicer and printer can handle, but things have become much more standardized.  Most stl models you download can be handled by most slicers and printers.

Another big thing here is factoring in if it has supports, if it’s a multi part print, and similar considerations.  

Support and Community

Community is one of the best parts of this hobby.  I would join up with some 3D printing facebook groups, reddit communities, discord chats etc.  It’s a great resource for you if you get stuck or have questions.  

Once you pick a printer, it’s great to find other people that have your gear.  They’ll have the best information on settings and troubleshooting.  

Pricing Model

If you only want to find free stl files, you dont have to concern yourself.  If you’re looking for a list of the best 3d printer files available, pricing comes into play.  There are tons of 3d models available.  If you’re looking to download 3d miniatures in bulk, you might do well to find a pricing structure that fits your goals.

As mentioned above, some sites have an “all you can download” options.  Others have large packages of files to download available.  Make sure you factor all this in.  My advice is to always try a print or two from whoever you are considering before opting for a high priced package.

Most sites will have free samples to try.  Take advantage of them.

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