Posts Tagged ‘MakerBot

free-stl-3d-printer-models-thingiverse

There are multiple specialized websites that serve as communities for users making 3D models for printing on 3D printers to share their work, some are freely available, and others offer their work for a price and you can even order the model to be printer and sent to you as well. If you are interested in downloading some free STL models for trying out your new 3D printer then you might want to check the following popular websites as a good starting point…

Thingiverse – a large community operated by MakerBot, a manufacturer of 3D printers, where you can find a lot of 3D models shared by users and available for free download in STL format. There are a lot of new 3D models added every day and many of the published models come with instructions and photos of successful prints, though be careful that even if some models may be available for download in STL format they may not be optimized for 3D printing and may need some extra work fixing them, but these are usually not many.

Youmagine is an alternative to Thingiverse, also operated by a 3D Printer maker – Ultimaker. Not as big as the first one, but also a good place to check often as it has some interesting designs and also apparently some of the Thingiverse users have decided to move here. Not as many new models added and users interacting and sharing photos and comments when printing an object, but the place has the potential to grow.

Cubehero is another smaller platform made to help 3D printer users to interact and collaborate on projects they are making. This project is not operated by 3D printer maker and while there are still not that many projects available, you can still find some interesting 3D models, so do check it out.

GrabCAD is not your typical place to just download free STL 3D models for printing, it has many CAD models a lot of which are also available in STL format, but not all are. You can download 3D models in other formats and also try to convert them in STL for 3D printing, but you may experience trouble with more complex ones. Nevertheless many interesting things available so do check the website out.

SketchUp 3D Warehouse is the place for 3D models for the SketchUp software previously owned by Google, but then sold to Trimble. There are a lot of SketchUp models available, though you will need to export them in STL format from the software with the help of an STL Import/Export plugin and then to print them.

TurboSquid is one of the largest 3D model resources, both free and commercial ones. Even though the 3D models available there are not specially designed for 3D printers you should be able to convert many of them into STL format and then print them.

There are other smaller resources available providing some free STL models for 3D printers as well as other 3D models not designed especially to be 3D printed. The good news is that if it is a 3D mode of something you may be able to convert it to an STL file and print it on your 3D printer. This process however could not be as easy as just opening a 3DS, DXF, OBJ or another file format and exporting it as STL model and may require some more extra work, so if you are still new to 3D printing you might want to stick for now to places that have free 3D models available in STL format to make your life easier.

makerbot-replicator-2-3d-printer

When we have decided that we wanted to get a 3D Printer to test and experiment with we were faced with the hard task of choosing the make and model and believe us this is not an easy thing do to with so many available options. There are already quite a lot of cheap Chinese made 3D printers available, however looking for support and information as well as replacement or upgrade parts could be a problem with these and many users are often reporting reliability problems. Then there are of course some very expensive printers as well as there are a few different types of technologies available for 3D printing, though the most accessible and easy to use is the fused deposition modeling (FDM) where the 3D printed part is produced by extruding heated thermoplastic filament material which hardens immediately to form layers. The thermoplastic materials used as filament for 3D printers can vary, but they are all a type of plastic which becomes moldable when heated to a specific temperature and then returns to a solid state when cooled down. Such thermoplastic materials used by 3D printers that rely on the FDM principle are for example ABS, PLA and others.

When we were choosing our first 3D printer we had a few important requirements – reliable hardware, larger user base, support for more common filament types, wider software support and not too high price. Obviously the low price was not among the most important things we wanted, we preferred to go for a more expensive and proven to be reliable hardware, but not too expensive as this was our first 3D printer and we did not want to invest too much in hardware that we might end up not very happy with. We did not want to go for a just released new model of 3D Printer as although these can be quite attractive specifications wise, you usually cannot find a lot of user feedback about them and they could have various issues that need to be fixed before they are really working well. So after reading various user opinions and checking around the most recommended models we have settled to go for a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer as being available already for quite some time. It is one of the most recommended choices for a first 3D printer, though it might still need some extra work and is far from perfect, but being often recommended as a good choice and it pretty much covered our requirements, so we’ve settled for the Replicator 2. After using it for a while already and trying and learning a lot of things on the go while printing various things we still consider it as a good option for a first 3D printer, even though MakerBot already has some new more advanced models available, the Replicator 2 is still a good starting point.

So do have that in mind when you are considering what 3D Printer to go for, though there are other alternatives that you may want to check as well that may be more interesting for your needs like the Ultimaker 2 3D printer or the 3D Systems Cube series of 3D printers or the Leapfrog Creatr. Do note that probably not only the Replicator 2 3D Printer has its drawbacks, the same could probably be said for the others mentioned models as well, though we are already very familiar with what you can expect from the MakerBot product and we are going to be talking sharing a lot of information along with tips about it, so stay tuned for more…


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