When it comes to 3D modeling, there are very few limitations stopping designers from transferring their vivid imagination to the digital realm. Whether it be a monstrous video character or a magnificent architectural model, there are an endless amount of creative 3D creations out there.
This is a selection of websites, 3D archives, content repositories, and marketplaces that offer free 3D models to download. On each of them, you can browse through a large choice – and, of course, download free 3D models – for use in your gaming, animation, graphic design or 3D printing projects.
Some of these sites are marketplaces. They allow users to upload and sell their 3D designs. So if you’re a 3D modeler in need of a revenue source, here are perfect platforms for showcasing your work and selling it.
However, not every 3D design you find on these pages is suitable for every application. Therefore, we categorized the pages according to their intended use, and we added a brief description of the most common pitfalls.
Below we list the free 3D model download sites by application, so you can jump straight to what’s important for you.
Have we missed your favorite download site for 3D models? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add them in a future update.
Autodesk’s Online Gallery is the place where professional designers have a chance to showcase their latest projects. While designers only upload renderings of their work, many give free access to their 3D files. Unsurprisingly, the standard of quality differs widely. On the other hand, there is something for everyone. Apart from free 3D models for animation and visualization, you can find files for 3D printing files and even some engineering projects.
Visit: Autodesk Online Gallery
The Unity game engine is not only a tool for game developers. It is also popular for architectural visualization in the virtual reality environment. The engine’s diverse applications have spawned an industry of its own that supplies professionals and enthusiasts with a never-ending flow of assets, textures, tutorials, and scripts. Its website is packed with free 3D models to download for your game projects and provides over 1000 free 3D models.
Visit: Unity Asset Store
Instructables is more than just a free 3D model repository. It’s also a fantastic community portal where users can share their DIY projects, including things made for 3D printing. Featured on the project pages are the tutorials and instructions on how to build each creation, together with the free 3D models to download where relevant. Plus, most of the designers are helpful enough to answer questions submitted by the public.
The site looks gray and dull… but don’t let the bland appearance fool you. This is a very cool repository of free 3D models for 3D printing created by none other than NASA. Their free 3D models are made for educational purposes. You can print landmark objects in the history of space exploration like the Apollo 11 landing site, the Curiosity Rover, or the Hubble Space Telescope.
Visit: NASA 3D Resources
Thingiverse is a repository operated by MakerBot Industries, the creators of the popular Replicator series of 3D printers. The website is well established and mature and is the most popular repository for free 3D models among the 3D printing community. Thingiverse hosts a wide range of dedicated makers who upload free 3D models for 3D printing in varying categories and complexity. If you’re looking for cool things to 3D print, there’s no better place to start.
If you’re looking for architecture, product design, or scale models, 3D Warehouse is the perfect place for you. The site specializes in hosting anything that was created with the popular 3D modeling software SketchUp. You can filter their database for free 3D models suitable for 3D printing by selecting ‘Only Show Printable Models’ in their advanced search function. Since most of the content is created by amateurs, the quality varies greatly.
Visit: 3D Warehouse
TurboSquid is one of the leading marketplaces for high-quality 3D designs. Artists can upload and sell their work. A unique feature of TurboSquid is its quality control, dubbed “CheckMate.” It consists of objective requirements to evaluate the quality of the 3D model (scale, clean UVs, texture resolution specified). TurboSquid also features many free 3D models to download.
The mission statement of GrabCAD is to “help mechanical engineers build great products faster.” Backed by Statasys, who own Makerbot, who in turn own Thingiverse, think of it as the engineer’s version of Thingiverse. The site offers tools that help users collaborate in the development of their 3D models. For the typical 3D printing enthusiast, the best part of the site is the large library of free 3D models to download for 3D printing — available in STL and other formats — created by a community of over a million engineers.
The Smithsonian Institution recently began 3D scanning and uploading free 3D models onto its website. One of the most exciting 3D models put on display is the Apollo 11 Command Module. This website is essentially a virtual museum: It offers several dozen tours that highlight the historical importance of each and every piece. The free 3D models to download are available in various versions: in full-scan resolution, low-resolution, and 3D print ready.
Visit: Smithsonian X3D
Sketchfab is a great source of user-generated 3D designs, with an emphasis on character design and sculpture. Some of the files are available for free. 3D models for printing are only a sub-category of a larger collection, and these can be further filtered between STL files and OBJ files (the difference is that OBJ format contains color information for advanced printing). If you’re looking for something unusual, this is the place.
TinkerCAD Things is the portal for 3D modeling hobbyists working with Autodesk’s free TinkerCAD software. This page features a gallery that allows users to upload and share their 3D designs with each other. The subject matter is as diverse as the user community; you will find fan art and parts from various DIY projects. Also, not only can you have free 3D models to download, but have them 3D printed and even import them to Minecraft. Since most of the content is created by amateurs the quality varies greatly – but you will find a handful of gems here. It’s owned by Autodesk, too, so you know the folks running it are vastly experienced.
Visit: TinkerCAD Things
CGTrader is a marketplace to buy and sell 3D designs. They’re not just limited to STL files, but the site offers a nice selection of free 3D models to download that can be fabricated on any 3D printer. Besides that, you can find scripts and plugins that facilitate modeling. Users who can’t find a suitable 3D design “from the shelf” can commission a 3D designer in the 3D modeling job market.
Free3D stands out from many other community-driven platforms by its clear and structured UI. The free 3D models are easy to find thanks to a sensible category system. 3D designers can open portfolios to showcase their talent. The competition between community members is fueled by a relentless voting feature. You really can find some gems on the most popular free 3D models site.
Aimed at architectural visualization, 3dsky offers a large repository of free 3D models and not-so-free 3D models. Behind a not very well explained subscription service, you can gain access to a large library of items ranging from furniture to entire apartment blocks. Some of the models are even provided by the real world product’s original manufacturers.
MyMiniFactory is a community and repository for free 3D models for 3D printing. The site offers 3D printable models made by professional designers, many of whom guarantee that the models have been quality tested. You can also log a request for a specific 3D printable design that MyMiniFactory’s designers will create and then share. A bonus is that the site is available in seven different languages.
Evermotion is an VFX company based out of Poland. They specialize in photo-realistic 3D renders and assets, with articles, designer profiles and portfolios making up the company’s website. Dig a little deeper, and you can find free 3D models to download, too.
OpenGameArt is a forum for game developer enthusiasts out there. Besides message boards and tutorials, the page also provides a large download section. It features free textures, free 3D models, music, and sound effects from a variety of sources.
Archive 3D is yet another repository that provides free 3D models for animation and graphic design. The selection of free 3D models to download is quite impressive: you can find furniture, kitchen and office equipment, clothing, architectural structures, and vehicles.
Visit: Archive 3D
True to its name, CADNav features a large selection of free CAD models from fields like engineering and architecture. While this is the bulk of available models, you can also find a broad range of vehicles, humans, furniture, and props that will make a great addition to 3D animation and visualization. But, free 3D models are not everything CADNav has to offer. You can also download texture maps and even Vray maps free of charge.
Blendswap is a platform for Blender users to upload and exchange their work. Both the quality and type of free 3D models is quite varied. Still, we were very impressed by some of the excellent work! Users who need technical assistance can post in the so-called Blend Request section where community members will help them.
TraceParts is a “3D digital content provider for Engineering, Design, Purchasing, Manufacturing and Maintenance processes & operations”. The website allows CAD designers to quickly access exact free 3D models of components that they can use in their engineering work. The page of every item includes a technical data sheet. This platform offers free 3D models to download. However, there is more to this platform. Business clients can subscribe to Trace Part’s supplier parts management to direct their designers to approved components to save storage and accounting costs.
Visit: Trace Parts
The name is pretty self-explanatory, right? STLFinder is another simple search engine that will crawl the Web, bringing up hundreds of results for free 3D models from a variety of sources. You can also create an account to bookmark your favorite models for future reference.
With a mission statement to “make 3D printing simple and fun”, Pinshape places emphasis on high-quality 3D designs and an easily navigable platform. Acquired by Formlabs in 2016, it’s an open marketplace stuffed with paid and free 3D models for 3D printing that are arranged by a handful of filterable categories. For creators, there’s even the option to sell original designs, too.
Yobi3D is a cutting-edge search engine that amalgamates free 3D models for many other file repositories, and then offers comprehensive features like 3D visualization, sharing, and even one-click 3D printing via 3D Hubs.
3DModelFree is a repository of free 3D models with a focus on interior design, architecture, and appliances. Don’t let the dated web page fool you though, it contains a vast library of models for architectural visualization and animation.
Visit: 3D Model Free
Aimed at professional designers and 3D artists, 3DExport is a marketplace for premium 3D designs that can be bought and sold. You can also filter your search to find a small collection of free 3D models for 3D printing, particularly with an emphasis on jewelry and ornaments. In case you don’t find what you need, you can commission a 3D designer to create something from scratch.
This repository is a service for engineering companies by Dassault Systèmes, owner of SolidWorks. Users can configure, download and request 2D and 3D parts and assemblies, 2D blocks, library features, and macros. This is a great way to showcase your portfolio. 3DContentCentral boasts some 1.5 millions CAD users that actively contribute their free 3D models to the page. The online viewer features advanced options like exploding and sectioning the free 3D designs.
ShareCG is a portal for 3D modeling enthusiasts. You can upload, share, and most importantly, showcase your work. The free 3D models range from cars and spaceships to furniture. Also, the site provides materials, scripts, and plugins for various 3D modeling programs.
clara.io is not only a repository for free 3D models, but it is also a completely self-sufficient online tool that covers 3D modeling, animation, and rendering. While the Basis account gives you 5GB of cloud storage, there are professional solutions that are tailored to the needs of industry professionals.
A French file repository that “connects designers and people who want to 3D print some objects”. The site’s name hides a playful twist — read backward your get St. Luc, patron saint of the arts. Wordplay aside, the platform prides itself on quality and originality. You’ll find some doubling up from creators hosting their work on other file platforms, but dig through and you’ll find pleasantly original creations here.
Backed by 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker, it’s little surprise that YouMagine is a community dedicated to open-source projects, encouraging its users to share, remix and work together. You’ll find all manner of free 3D models to download for 3D printing. STL and CAD files hosted here, including your run of the mill 3D printing knick-knacks. However, these trinkets rub shoulders with projects with a little more purpose. One example being OpenBionics’ Brunel Hand, a fully printable prosthetic hand designed to improve the lives of amputees.
PixelLab is a publisher of plugins and extensions to Cinema 4D. The second hat it wears is creating high-quality 3D models and textures. But more than that, the web page is literally a textbook on 3D modeling, scripting, and rendering. Join the newsletter for a ton of free 3D models.
Kenney is a Dutch game developer that specializes in low-poly games. In a truly unique move, Kenney has made its gaming assets available for download. While downloading the 3D models is free, the developers certainly appreciate you buying the asset bundles. If you’re into game development, you also check out their 2D sprite editor Kenny Studio.
FlyingArchitecture is a portal for architectural visualization. While basic membership is free, there’s also bonus material available for a fee. Besides 3D models, you can access PSD files that will show you how to prepare your raw renders for publication. FlyingArchitecture offers extensive 3D modeling online tutorials as well as workshops.
3D Digital Doubles is a service that provides high-quality 3D scans for 3D character creation in gaming, animation, and graphic design. The commercial 3D characters are available for reasonable prices. You can judge the quality of this company’s work for yourself by downloading the free 3D models. In case you like their work, you can book their 3D scanning services for further use.
Visit: 3D Digital Doubles
VizPeople is a 3D/2D content seller that offers a wide range of models suitable for graphic designers and animators. These products can be bought in packages with prices ranging between $130 and $220. Such packs include the likes of home gadgets, cars, trees, and furniture. Take note of the wide selection of textures, sky backgrounds, and 2D cut out people.
Renderpeople sells high-quality 3D models of people. Some of the models are fully clothed and posed. This makes them suitable for setting up photorealistic scenes in graphic design and architectural visualization. The technology behind these models is photogrammetry scanning, which results in high-resolution models. The small selection of four free 3D models — in many file types — showcases what you can generally expect from this company.
Design Connected offers a large collection of furniture 3D models for sale. The focus is clearly on designer items. Thankfully, the site does not leave you alone with the task to rummage its large repository. It is broken down into expedient categories and even features curated collections of 3D assets. In case you are still not impressed by our description, download one of the 190 free 3D models and see for yourself.
Visit: Design Connected
3D Scanstore provides reference scans of humans for character development. Other character models are in different poses wearing a variety of clothing. While the scans are reasonably priced, commercial use costs extra. The site offers some free 3D models for evaluation. Also, the makers share their 3D scanning wisdom in a free tutorial on how to tackle reflective objects.
Visit: 3D Scanstore
Syncronia is a repository of 3D designs brought to you directly by the manufacturers. As is often the case on these pages, the focus is on designer furniture, kitchen appliances, and bathroom equipment. The site also prides itself on its collaboration with Autodesk. Together they are promoting BIM (Building Information Management) technology that strives to facilitate planning.
Dimensiva is an excellent source of assets in the field of architectural visualization. The page exclusively features free 3D models of designer furniture, some of which have even won prestigious awards.
3Delicious is a vast collection of free 3D models particularly suitable for architectural visualization. But the meshes should work for graphic designers and animators as well. The subject matter ranges from designer furniture and plants to various sorts of vehicles and people. The free 3D models are mostly high quality. Despite the pleasingly no simple layout, the pages are stuffed with false download link ads, so be cautious where you click.
blankRepository truly found its gap in the market: they provide 3D scans of food (vegetable, fruits, bread and processed food). The free 3D models are of the highest quality – the texture maps come at a crisp 4K resolution. Registered users can download 5 free 3D models a day. For a bigger selection of food, take a look at blankRepository’s commercial site brxtended. Note the tutorial section for tips on how to improve your 3D scans.
The business model for 3DShook is a subscription service for those who want a steady stream of quality 3D models for 3D printing. Package deals range from $25-$50, as well as monthly, educational, yearly, and commercial subscriptions. The designs are uniformly excellent, and to help convince you to purchase a subscription, they offer a trial gallery of free 3D models to download.
Bitgem is an innovative 3D modeling studio for 3D games. They offer models in a variety of styles, though pixelated and low poly are the most frequently found kind. According to the website, all the models are compatible with the major game engines like Unity, Cry, Source and Unreal. If you need quirky, carefully designed 3D assets for your game project, you should definitely check out Bitgem’s merchandise. This studio has small but exquisite free 3D models to download. Find out if it has all what you need.
A rather novel take on 3D modeling that streamlines the concept of remixing designs that sites like Thinigverse handle somewhat clumsily. Crowd-sourcing designs through its browser-based modeling app, any modifications made to a design are viewable on the original’s page, visually represented as a branching tree of derivatives. It’s a cool concept but it appears a little barren right now, propped up by the founders and a small handful of designers. Once you’re signed up, you can download free 3D models for printing for yourself (though there’s no printability checker, so best to run it through a repair tool first).
If you need character 3D models of the highest quality, Human Alloy is possibly the site for you. Its models consist of up to 20 million polygons. But you can choose from 6 mesh resolutions to balance quality and rendering speed. The textures are broken up into 10 separate masks – allowing you to completely recolor the models (see above). Test drive Human Alloy’s two free 3D models to work out if that sort of setup suits your workflow.
The 3D printer manufacturer gCreate has designed a series of drop-dead cool home decoration accessories. Our personal favorite is the fruit bowl, pictured above, but a bonsai planter is an outstanding second place. gCreate offers free 3D models to download and print on any 3D printer.
Originally launched by Anthropologists, MorphoSource is a project centered online platform enabling researchers to upload and share their 3D designs. Users can browse the files by scientific taxonomy, anatomical region, data type, or bibliography. The data comes from high-resolution 3D scans of extinct and extant species. It can be cited in journals using DOIs. The free 3D models are also organized according to the projects of the contributing researchers.
GB3D Type Fossils is a catalog of 3D scanned fossils housed in various British collections. The entries provide information on the animal’s zoological classification and visual representations. Recently, the documentation was enhanced by uploading free 3D models. You won’t find a 3D print-ready dinosaur skull on this site, but the scans are still fascinating enough.
Visit: GB3D Type Fossils
You want to ensure that the 3D models are true to scale. They should be accurate and provide documentation on the materials to be used and to clear up any potential misconceptions. The CAD models used for planning are not to be confused with the ones for architectural visualization. Architects design buildings down to the tiniest detail, stuffing them with kilometers of wiring, heating and everything else that makes skyscrapers, hospitals function. The 3D models used for visualization are downgraded to the facade and some key interior spaces.
If you intend to 3D print a 3D model, make sure the mesh is watertight, and its vertices are non-manifold. Also, check the wall thickness for efficient use of material. You want a sturdy print, but don’t waste precious filament.
Video games try to square the circle. Their ambition is a high degree of realism, but they also utilize real-time rendering. One way to achieve this goal is to lower the polygon count. So 3D modelers often remove parts and hide them from the player’s point of view.
Visual-effects artists and graphic designers aim at a high degree of realism. But as their works are pre-rendered, they are in a very comfortable position. They can allow themselves a substantially higher polygon count. In CG-animation the quality of the bone structure is paramount. You want to configure the kinematics of your mesh without encountering any issues.
License: The text of "Free 3D Models – Best Download Sites & 3D Archives of 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Subscribe to updates from All3DP
You are subscribed to updates from All3DP
You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…