3D printing opens up a whole new world of possibilities for small businesses. You can use 3D printer models to create small products, prototypes, or parts for equipment. These machines allow you to create your own custom designs. But if you’re not interested in starting from scratch, you can simply search for existing files. There are tons of both free and paid designs available.

If you don’t know where to start with your 3D printing journey, here’s a go-to guide for finding new projects and 3D printing ideas.

Can you make money with a 3D printer?

Yes, there are multiple 3D printing business ideas for making money. You can use your device to create small products from scratch. Sell small items like jewelry, home accessories, 3D models and figurines in stores or online. Alternatively, designers could create 3D files and sell those digital products online for others to print on their own.

3D print businesses can also make money through services. For example, you might print small parts that you can rent for a small fee. Or you could rent the actual printer for users who want to just use it once. If you want to get even more specific, you might start a prototyping service where you 3D print objects or a 3D model for companies looking to develop new products.

How do I get files for my 3D Printer?

So you’ve decided to build a business with 3D printing or incorporate 3D printing into your existing business. It is possible to create your own 3D files from scratch. However, it’s often simpler to start with an existing 3D model.

Luckily, there are websites that offer STL files, the format used by 3D printers, for purchase and free download. Search for the type of project you want to create online or browse the sites below for 3D printing ideas.

3D Printer Projects Download: Find Amazing 3D Models

If you’re looking for 3D printing ideas for your business, start with the websites listed below. Many offer free STL files, with others available at an affordable price. Some also specialize in a specific area, like engineering parts or fashion accessories. Search or browse categories to find things to 3d print that suit your brand.

Best Sites for Finding STL Files for 3D Printer Projects

If you’ve decided to build a 3D printing business or add it to your existing business and are just starting out, you’ll most likely want to start browsing the free designs online. An STL file is the most common type of file used for 3D printing designs.

Best Sites for Finding Free 3D Printing Files: Discover the Perfect 3D Printing Designs

Here are some of the best sites where you can find the perfect free STL files for your 3D printer projects.


Thingiverse is one of the best websites for finding digital 3D designs. It’s a marketplace full of user-created designs.there are free STL files and things with various licensing options. There are even community features on Thingiverse for people who want to connect with other makers.

3D Warehouse

3D Warehouse features more designs than most 3D design sites. Owned by SketchUp, you simply search or browse for the items you’re looking to 3d print. This site specializes in 3D models for architecture and construction.


GrabCAD features a CAD library, tutorials, and groups for makers. CAD models are available in various formats and for a huge array of project types.


Cults specializes in 3D printable models for hobbyists. You can find an STL file for everything from planters to game pieces.

3D Shook

3D Shook is made for home 3D printing. The 3D models include things like wall hangings, toothbrush holders, and toys.


Free3D offers an extensive library of both free and premium 3D models. You can search by type or file format, depending on your project and the capabilities of your printer.


Sketchfab is an interactive community for 3D print models and files. Search or browse collections, or even narrow by category or license type.


PrusaPrinters is a database for 3D models and prints. The community also hosts contests, groups, and forums for designers and printers.


YouMagine is a collaborative community full of 3D printable models. Search files like toys and planters, or browse curated collections from other users.

3D Orchard

3D Orchard offers a community for crowdsourcing 3D printable models. The website features built-in CAD tools for creating STL file format designs, along with support from other users.

Paid sites (With Free Versions) for 3D Printer Projects Download

If you’re looking for some extremely high-quality 3D printer projects to download for your business, it’s a good idea to look at what the paid versions have to offer. Here are some of the best sites for finding 3d printing designs. These 3d print sites have both free and paid versions.


Yeggi is a search engine and marketplace for 3D models. Search for a specific STL file or save various 3D printable projects to your list. The 3D prints are often sourced from other sites. So some are free. And some have a reasonable selling price.


MyMiniFactory is a marketplace where independent sellers can offer 3D model options. So sellers set their price for each thing. It’s an easy 3D print search engine to operate. And most are available in STL file form.

CG Trader

CG Trader is a 3D designer community. You can sell 3D print products, purchase with a price set by each seller, or even connect on 3D print design jobs.

Is it cheaper to build your own 3D printer?

Yes, building your own 3D printer is generally cheaper than purchasing a pre-assembled one. And this option might be the best 3D printer for small business. However, designers pay for the convenience of getting a printer that is ready to start printing immediately. But if you have some time and want to customize your device, save money by purchasing parts and assembling the printer yourself.

How much does it cost to make something with a 3D printer?

The cost of 3D printing varies widely based on the size and scope of your project. Costs include access to a 3D printer, the design or model, and the resin or material used in the actual item. Small parts like game pieces or jewelry may cost as little as a few dollars each when produced in bulk with equipment you already own. Larger items like engineering equipment that are professionally produced with quality materials may cost $10,000 or more.

What is the best design software for 3D print?

There are many versions of 3D modeling software available. Some of the top options include TinkerCAD, Onshape, and Solidworks. Your choice depends on what you’re planning to create and your tech and design skills. Most offer a free version or demo, so try different options before committing.

What kind of files does a 3D printer make?

STL files are most common in 3D printers, followed by OBJ files. However, there are also some specialty file categories. Here’s a full list:

  • .STL: STL stands for STereoLithography. These files use facet data and can easily interface between most CAD software and 3D printers. However, they can only include one color.
  • .OBJ: This file format is also widely supported by 3D printers and software. It is an open file format, so it has been adopted by many application vendors.
  • .gcode: This file extension contains G-code data dn is sometimes also known as .g or .gco. This format slices data to turn CAD drawings into code that a 3D printer can understand.
  • .VRML: This option stands for Virtual Reality Modelling Language. These files are similar to .STL but can include more than one color.
  • .3MF: Microsoft created this XML-based data format for the Windows 10 operating system. Files can include a variety of information like textures, materials and colors.
  • .AMF: AMF stands for Additive Manufacturing File Format. These files can contain a variety of data including color, material, texture, and metadata. And files can be compressed to half the size of .STL files.
  • .PLY: Otherwise known as Polygon File Format, these files are generated by 3D scanners.

How do I make STL files for 3D printing?

Creating a STL file for 3D printing varies based on the type of models and program you choose. But here are some of the most basic steps to know.

  1. Choose a CAD software: TinkerCAD and Solidworks are popular options.
  2. Create your design: The exact process varies by software. But you generally need to design the shape and select the size and materials you want included.
  3. Export your file: Choose .STL as your file type when saving.
  4. Send it to your printer: Either connect your own 3D printer or send it to a 3D printing service.

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