Oct 2, 2018

Thingiverse Models – How to 3D Print Them

Thingiverse is, hands down, one of the most popular sites for sharing and downloading files for 3D printing. Here's a rundown of how to get printing with Thingiverse.

Why Thingiverse?

Easter Eggs by Antonin Nosek. Source: Antonin_Nosek / Thingiverse

If you’re looking for a model to 3D print, be it a sculpture or a phone mount, chances are that someone has already made what you need. You could, of course, go about designing your own, but using someone else’s design is often quicker and easier.

Thingiverse is renowned in the 3D printing world as a great site for finding free models. It features thousands of files, many of which were created by incredible creators and designers, so you’ll likely find something that suits your taste.

The question is, once you find a model you like, how do you go about printing it?

For that you have two options. Either you use a 3D printing service to have it printed and sent to you, or you print it yourself!

Let’s take a look at both options.

Benefits of Using a 3D Printing Service

All3DP's Price Comparison service. Source: All3DP

If you don’t have a 3D printer, or even if you do, using a 3D printing service is a great option.

The most obvious advantage is that, whatever you print, you’re sure to have it done with professional quality. Additionally, you’ll have a wide range of materials and finishes to choose from.

With a 3D printing service, once your print is finished, it’s sent straight to your door. That means no work on your part.

So what’s the catch? Well, naturally, you have to pay. But don’t worry — we’re here to help. In order to get the best price from the 3D printing service that best suits your needs, head on over to All3DP’s Price Comparison Service. We offer real-time prices from a number of companies, including i.materialize, Sculpteo, and Shapeways.

1. Getting Familiarized

The Thingiverse homepage. Source: Thingiverse

Navigate to Thingiverse. You’ll be greeted by a homepage similar to the one shown above.

In the center, you’ll find featured models and collections chosen by the website’s staff.

Along the header menu, you’ll find the search bar as well as options to sign in, share models (“Create”), explore, and more.

It’s always a good idea to sign in or create an account. This will unlock options to upload files, comment, and customize certain designs with the Thingiverse Customizer.

2. Exploring the Platform

The "Explore" interface. Source: Thingiverse

If you want to do some general browsing, click “Explore” at the top of the page. There you have the option to browse both individual models (“Things”) and collections of models. Collections are categorical groups made by community members, which can come in handy if you already know what you’re looking for.

After selecting a category to explore, you’ll be greeted by a long list of designs. Along the top of the page, there are drop-down menus to categorically filter and display results. As shown above, this can help you focus on models you’re looking for.

3. Searching for Items

The search interface. Source: Thingiverse

Alternatively, Thingiverse has a great “Search” function for finding models. Simply type keywords into the top search bar and search.

Along the left side of the search results, you’ll find search refinement options, which let you target specific categories.

At the top right, there’s a drop-down menu to arrange the results based on varying factors, like popularity or relevance. Some results may be relevant but not the best choice, so filtering by popularity can help point you in the right direction.

4. About the Model

Artichoke Lamp by gCreate. Source: gCreate / Thingiverse

Once you’ve selected a model, you’ll see a page with all the photos, files, and instructions for the design. If the Customizer is available, that option will be in the menu on the right-hand side of the page (see above), under “Thing Apps Enabled”.

Along the middle of the page is another menu with various tabs. The most important of these are the “Thing Details”, under which the designer’s comments and instructions are, and the “Thing Files”, where the downloads are.

Finally, at the bottom of the page, there’s an option to view similar models in the same category, useful if you decide to find a different design.

5. Downloading

The download interface. Source: Thingiverse

If the model suits your taste, click on the “Thing Files” tab. Here, in addition to the files, you’ll find a description of the license under which the file was published.

You can either download all the files in a .zip folder, or click on a specific file to download it only.

Save the file somewhere accessible. We’re almost done!

6. Slice Your Model

Slicing in Cura. Source:

As with any other model you print, you’ll need to slice your file before you print it.

For those new to 3D printing, slicing is the process in which models are processed into code that 3D printers understand. For reference, we have helpful guides on different slicers and slicer settings.

7. Print Away!

Printing the Artichoke Lamp. Source: gCreate / Thingiverse

Send the sliced file off to your printer, and you’re good to go!

Thingiverse is a great way to access amazing free designs, and hopefully this guide was helpful to get you started. Check out our other guides for printing tips and tricks:

Happy printing!

License: The text of "Thingiverse Models – How to 3D Print Them" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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