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Top 10 Thingiverse Alternatives of 2022

Ian M. 3d model
Ian M. 20:44 10-27
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Thingiverse started in 2008, by Makerbot Industries, it now has more than 1.4 million free printable files, it’s the world’s largest repository of 3D model files that can be accessed and downloaded by anyone who needs them. Designs are added to the site by both professional and amateur designers who have a passion for the craft and want to share their work with others who share that passion. 

But, you might not always find what you’re looking for in Thingiverse’s vast archive of 3D printing files. Thankfully, this article will offers you the list of best Thingiverse alternatives with comparably high-quality file selections to broaden your search.

alternatives to Thingiverse

Part 1. A Brief introduction to Thingiverse

1.1. How Thingiverse works?

There are literally hundreds of thousands of model files in Thingiverse so how do you choose and find the one that you want? Well. Say you want to print a model of a Star Wars character. You would simply search for that in Thingiverse and you’ll be presented with every available file relating to that search criteria. You can then simply download the file, save it to your PC and its then usable in your preferred 3D printing slicer. 

As files are designed by others there are copyright restrictions and licences in place to protect the designers intellectual property but as long as you follow those rules, you are free to print anything you can find in the Thingiverse vaults. There is the option to offer a financial “tip” to the designer but this isn’t compulsory.

1.2. Pros and cons of Thingiverse

Pros

  • Massive file library of over 1.4 million models
  • Easy to use
  • Vast collection of different categories
  • Supports and protects designs

Cons

  • Online only
  • Too many similar models
  • Files don’t always print well

1.3. Is there another site like Thingiverse?

So, that’s just a brief look at what Thingiverse has to offer but are there any alternative sites offering a similar service? The simple answer is “yes”.

In this article we aim to look at the top ten Thingiverse alternatives and see what they have to offer. 

Preview table of Top 10 alternatives to Thingiverse

Alternatives to Thingiverse User experience Platform Supported Cost General score
Creality Cloud Easy to find and dowload 3D models online Website and Mobile App Free and paid designs 4.9/5.0
MyMiniFactory Online models but limited variety Wedsite only Mostly free designs; same paod 4.5/5.0
Printables Easy to find and download 3D models online Website only Free designs 4.4/5.0
CGTrader Online models but limited variety Website only Mostly free but some paid designs 4.2/5.0
Cults3d Online models, Easy to search. Large library Website only Mostly paid designs. Some free 4.2/5.0
Pinshape Variety of designs but not many Website only Free and paid designs 4.1/5.0
YouMagine Basic online models. Not much choice Website only Free designs 4.0/5.0
3DExport Aimed at professional designers. Not many printable designs Website only Free designs 4.0/5/0
GrabCAD Quality designs but not alkl are printable Website only Free designs 3 designs.9/5.0
Free3D Online models but limited variety Website only Free designs 3.8/5.0

Next, I will show you more details about these best alternative to thingiverse, the criteria we’re using is based on 3 things; Features, Pros and Cons. Let’s have a look.

Part 2. Best alternative to Thingiverse 2022

Top 1. Creality Cloud – The All-in-one 3D Printing Platform

Creality Cloud – The All-in-one 3D Printing Platform

If you want find the coolest things to print, Creality Cloud is the best alternative to Thingiverse. Creality Cloud is unique in that not only does it hold a massive library of downloadable models, but also allows you to slice and print remotely directly to your machine. 

The models themselves are designed mostly by the Cloud users but some are uploaded from other repository sites. While the majority of them are free, some are purchasable using Creality’s unique payment system. Designers are paid by credits rather than cash and can then redeem these via their PayPal account for cash. Creality takes a small percentage for admin costs but the designer gets the majority. 

Other notable features are the Cloud’s vibrant and active community which provides a place for sharing of information, tutorials and model prints. There are also regular giveaways and competitions and users are also able to accrue Cuvacoins which can then be redeemed against items in the gift shop. 

It's free for anyone to join the Creality Cloud service but you can upgrade to a Premium subscription for a monthly fee. This then opens up more features such as increased storage space and discounts in the gift shop.

Pros

  • Massive library of model files
  • Community interaction and support
  • Structured support for designers
  • Printer support and control
  • Wi-Fi printing
  • Integrated slicer
  • Rewards 
  • Competitions
  • Free to join

Cons

  • Some files need to be paid for
  • Occasional connectivity and slicer issues
  • Premium access is payable

Top 2. MyMiniFactory

MyMiniFactory offers a vast collection of printable STL files which can be downloaded, sliced and printed. The downside of this is that you have to pay for most of the files.

You need to join and set up an account in order to start buying but you can also enjoy the benefits of the different services on offer. These include a store for buying and selling of files but also a subscription service where designers can trade and share files. There’s also the ability to share stories and tutorials and an interesting sharing platform for users to upload scans of historical artifacts from around the world.

There are other features as well which serve to enhance the users experience such as sales and regular competitions.

Pros

  • Massive library of model files
  • Community interaction and support
  • Structured support for designers
  • Printer support and control
  • Wi-Fi printing
  • Integrated slicer
  • Rewards 
  • Competitions
  • Free to join

Cons

  • Some files need to be paid for
  • Occasional connectivity and slicer issues
  • Premium access is payable

Top 3. Printables

Printables is born from and linked to a brand and range of printers. The brand in  question is Prusa who have a small stable of printers but are popular within the 3D printing world.

Printables itself is also similar to Creality Cloud in that as it has files that are free to download, allows designers to share their creations and has a social community for users to share designs and experiences. There is also a reward scheme which allows users to earn points to obtain free filament and other items and regular weekly competitions and giveaways.

The range of models is diverse and can be anything from household items and tools to toys and models.

Pros

  • 198,000+ Model files
  • All files are free
  • Community activity
  • Member support
  • Competitions
  • Rewards

Cons

  • Not a massive file collection
  • Aimed more at Prusa users

Top 4. CG Trader

This is another site where the designs and STL files need to be paid for before you can download them as CGTrader is a marketplace to buy and sell 3D designs. The site does however offer a selection of free 3D printable files to download for production on any 3D printer.

There is a massive 1,4 million 3D models on the site with around 490,00 0f them marked as 3D printable. Many of these are free to download once you have created an online account.

There is again a wide range of designs available to choose from but mainly seem to be related to character miniatures and figures.

Pros

  • 1.4 Million files
  • 490,000+ printable files
  • Mostly free to download

Cons

  • Not all files are free
  • Must have an account to use the site

Top 5. Cults 3D

Cults 3D is probably the best known and most established of the “paid for” sites. It has a wide range of available files, the majority of which need to be purchased. However, there are quite a few free files but most of these are also available through other outlets.

Again, the theme of the files is mostly character and miniature based.

Pros

  • 631,000+ Paid Models
  • 271,000 free downloads
  • Good presentation of designs

Cons

  • Most quality files are paid for
  • Aimed mainly at character models

Top 6. Pinshape

Pinshape is run by printer manufacturer Formlabs and operates as a 3D marketplace. There are plenty of free STL files to download in the more than 25,400 designs, but it also functions as a platform to buy and sell premium 3D printer models.

The free STL files include toys and games, miniatures, jewelry and fashion, home appliances, gadgets, people and creatures, and art.

Pros

  • 25,400+ Designs
  • Downloads are free
  • Variety of design categories

Cons

  • Not many files
  • Some files are paid for

Top 7. YouMagine

YouMagine is a community website and file repository founded by Ultimaker who are responsible for the Cura slicing program.

This is a file repository which has some well designed items for every use on virtually any FDM 3D printer. There’s a choice of more than 19,000 printable model files arranged into different collections.

Pros

  • Linked to Cura
  • Free files
  • Files work with any printer
  • 19,000+ files

Cons

  • Not many files
  • Some low quality designs
  • Models are basic

Top 8. 3DExport

3DExport is aimed mostly at professional designers and 3D artists, and is a marketplace for premium 3D models.

Besides generic and low-poly 3D models, 3DExport offers a selection of more than 38,500 3D printable designs. You can also filter your search to find a small collection of free STL files for 3D printing. 

The main bulk of the content is jewelry and ornaments.

Pros

  • 38,000+ Model files
  • Fee printable files
  • Professional designs

Cons

  • Not aimed at the amateur designer
  • Limited content
  • Not many printable files

Top 9. GrabCAD

GrabCAD is a design and development site which offers tools that help users collaborate in the development of their 5,320,000 designs. However, only a small portion of that includes 3D printer models. 

This may not necessarily be the first place  you’d look for a selection of everyday printables but GrabCAD is still a useful place to get complex parts from designers and engineers. 

Worth noting though is that, although 10,000 models are tagged as 3D printable, not all of them actually will print.

The site also offers its own proprietary software program GrabCAD Workbench and they also have a 3D printing service, GrabCAD Print, if you’d prefer someone else to do the printing for you!

Pros

  • Quality designs from professionals
  • Vast number of designs
  • 10,000+ 3D printable files
  • Free downloads
  • Additional design software

Cons

  • Not all files marked as printable actually print
  • Not a large range of 3D files

Top 10. Free3D

Free3D is a good starting point if you are looking for free 3D models you can use in animation or game design. The site has a collection of more than 562,000 premium models but only a small collection of around 7,300+ STL files that are tagged as 3D printable. 

Having said that, not all files look suitable for 3D printing so results may vary.

Pros

  • 562,000 Model files
  • 7,300+ Printable files

Cons

  • Not all files appear printable
  • Lack of 3D file choice
  • Not designer centric

Conclusion

While Thingiverse is still the name at the front of everyone’s mind when it comes to 3D files; there are clearly many more sites to choose from. Many of the sites we’ve looked at are great sources of decent 3D models and it’s then down to whether you are prepared to pay for it or not. While Thingiverse still offers its files for free, there is the option to tip the designer so the choice again is there for you. Others in the list don’t give you any option other than to pay for the files.

Creality Cloud though is the only one of these that has everything: model file repository, designer support, quality models, community, a slicer and remote printer control and monitoring. Although most of the files are free you can still choose some that are payable if you want. 

However, paying for 3D model files isn’t a bad thing as it will only serve to encourage designers to bring more quality 3D printable designs to the masses.

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