Learn 3D Printing
Howdy! Scroll down to "Related Websites" to see Introduction Videos to 3D Pritning!
You only need step 1 below to print with a shop or service, but knowing about steps 2 and 3 can help acheive the best quality prints.
Use the search bar to get ideas of what to print, then click the options below to learn more

Find/Make a 3D File
(get .stl or .obj file)

Create Slices from File
(get slices like .gcode)

Upload slices to Printer
(get printed product)

Print, Modify, or Learn from designs online

Use the search bar above to quickly find and make printer-ready designs.

Printing files usually end with '.stl' or '.obj'. They can be sent to a printing service, or sliced and printed by you.

Many 3D files are for uses other than 3D printing, so certain online sites feature only printable files.

Click above to learn more about where to find files designed for 3D printing
Some designs will cost some money to download. Many designers upload their designs for public use

Click above to learn more about where to find public domain designs
Search engines can help you find designs without having to visit many interest-specific sites

Click above to learn more about how to search for files on your own

Below are websites you can visit where all designs are made for 3D printing.

However, not all designs are made for all printers. Different materials can be printed on different printers.

For example: SLA printers make smoother but more fragile parts (like game-pieces and ornaments), while FDM printers make stronger but less smooth prints (like phone-holders and oven-dials).

The material is what determines the color, not the file. The file only changes the shape. Many paint their prints.

Designs can easily be made larger or smaller before printing.

Below are websites you can visit where all 3D files are free.

Many files you find may not be suitable for 3D printing, but if there is a picture of the design printed, it likely can be printed by you.

Online printing services and printing may inform you if there is difficulty making items not designed for printing.

You can check if a file is printable, and repair/convert unprintable files with Make Printable or Microsoft's 3D Tools.

Look at 3D Printable Designs above for more information on knowing what to do with 3D printable files.

Can't find a site that has the files you're looking for?

It's a common problem, with many thingiverse users complaining that search on the site is not easy.

The below websites are search engines that can help you find 3D files online, both for free and for sale.

Alternatively, many have success by adding search terms to this Google search (like dogs).

You can also search by site on Google, like searching for Dogs on Thingiverse

If there isn't a design online that matches exactly what you're searching for, you can design one!

Similar to Downloading Designs, you'll need files that end with '.stl' or '.obj'. They can be sent to a printing service, or sliced and printed by you.

There are many options based on how much about designing you want to learn, ranging from hiring someone to design for you to building your own designs from scratch:

You can 3D print anything (feasible) with a 3D printer without having to learn how to design.

Click above to learn more about where you can talk with or hire designers

You can customize some online designs without needing to know complex CAD programs.

Click above to learn more about how to create new, customized designs

You can modify and merge multiple designs together without much CAD experience.

Click above to learn more about how to remix designs into something new

You can begin to learn Computer-Aided Design (CAD) with some basic video walkthroughs

Click above to start learning CAD for 3D Printing

You can 3D print anything (feasible) with a 3D printer without having to learn how to design.

Combined with 3D printing services, the only thing you absolutely need to know is what you'd want to print.

There are many options of people to hire for designing.

Freelancers from many sites can help you design and print items.

Some websites provide guidance to help convert your ideas or prototypes into a mass-produces product.

These services will cost more than downloading a pre-made design

Some designers and websites provide ways for you to customize their designs without needing to know complex CAD programs.

For example, you can enter text for a keychain, specify an image for a phone case, or personalize a miniature.

Many of these are free to customize and view online, so you can experiement before downloading or purchasing.

Some websites, like the Thingiverse Customizer shown in this video, will require that you make an account to use these customization features.

Some of the more complex customization tools will require money to download or print through their services.

Rather than starting from the ground-up, you can quickly build from an existing design.

First, find Designs to Download and modify.

Next, you can change size, add text, create multiple pieces, and make many other modifications to your downloaded designs.

All of the above can be freely and quickly done online with TinkerCAD, a simple but effective Computer-Aided Design (CAD) web application intended for people of all ages.

There are many great examples of how people have remixed existing designs and even designed from scratch with TinkerCAD.

Learning how to design and remix with TinkerCAD will help you learn more complex CAD applications, and become a better designer.

Look below for tutorials and examples of TinkerCAD, and other remixes like printing 3D scanned objects

Building something without assistance is satisfying, but often it's good exercise to get inspiration from existing designs .

If you have no CAD experience, we recommend first learning TinkerCAD , where you can quickly make new designs without as steep of a learning curve.

Once you have some experience, you can start designing a large variety of CAD applications like Blender (free), Fusion360 (free for students), or Solidworks (paid).

Here is a great infographic on different design processes.

Designing for 3D printing is not the same as 3D designing for games or animation. Having more experience using 3D printers will make you a better designer. There are several things to consider: overhangs, design-orientation, manifold meshes, etc. (summarized in this poster)

Look below for many websites relating to learning more advanced CAD applications for 3D printing

You'll need to find or create a 3D file to print.

To print, you'll need some knowledge of slicing software and printer operation.

For example, you'll need to know what material you wish to print with to help determine which type of printer you wish to use.

Services can help introduce and guide you through these initial settings.

You can bring a design to a local print shop, or order your print from an online service.

Click above to learn more about these services

Different 3D printers work in very different ways, and with varying quality and price.

Click above to learn more about different 3D printers.

To convert your 3D file to code that printers can understand, you will need to use a slicer.

Click above to learn more about Slicing

Unfortunately most printers are not "plug-and-play", especially when it comes to more exotic materials.

Click above to learn about materials, and how to debug your prints

Printing services will take your 3D file, and either give you feedback or print it without feedback.

Most online services will not provide you feedback on your designs without an additional fee.

With local print shops, they will often catch errors in your file or idea before printing.

We recommend talking with local shops, like the MakerPlace @ TAMU, to help answer questions

This article gives resources on how to find many printing services near you.

Below are some examples of printing services

Here is a video summarizing different printer types.

The most common types of printer you'll see are FDM printers and SLA/DLP printers.

FDM printers take in plastic filament and melt it like a hot glue gun, being relatively inexpensive in both printer costs and material costs.

SLA/DLP printers vary more in cost, but both use a liquid resin that is around 3x more expensive but results in higher-resolution prints.

There are several guides on which printer to buy, updating constantly as new printers are released, many of which are below.

Slicers take in the 3D file, which contains the shape of your design, and output machine instructions to build your print layer by layer.

They are pretty smart, inferring settings that you may need, but they are often specific to certain types of printers.

For example, think of stacking blocks or Jenga. 3D printing is similar in that stacking layers can cause the entire thing to tip over. These overhangs can be supported by what's called "support material". The slicer can automatically add this to the print so that you can easily remove it afterwards.

Cura (free), PrusaSlicer (free), and Simplify3D (paid) are all great for FDM printing, while Preform and ChituBox are great for SLA/DLP printing.

There are many, many settings that can be changed to majorly change your finished prints. Talk to people or look online to find the best settings for your printer , material , and application.

Look below for more resources on slicers

If the design is good for printing and the printer/material are in good condition, most prints will be successful.

All that's left is to take the output of the slicer (like .gcode) and tell the printer via USB or WiFi to start the print.

However, problems still often occur. Here is a guide for troubleshooting common FDM and SLA printers

Most problems can be fixed by either turning a few knobs on the printer, or modifying slicer settings.

Look below for more resources on how to run and troubleshoot 3D printers.

Seeing how others print, and having others see how you print, can greatly help you learn 3D printing skills over time.

On social media, people showcase their designs , how they design , and how they print .

While HowDIY will get you started 3D printing, 3D printing is changing constantly with new tools and applications.

It's good to view how others' print, and get feedback on your prints.

Below are lists for popular social media sites, but there are many other places to discuss 3D printing.

YouTube is full of demonstrations of 3D printing, how designers created their prints, and tutorials on how to print.

Click above to see the great work YouTubers have done with 3D printing

Reddit is a large hub of with many general discussions about 3D printing, with some subreddits dedicated for very particular applications of 3D printing.

Click above to see related Reddit communties

Many YouTubers, Redditors, and Instagrammers mix and mingle on Twitter to discuss their projects and the latest news

Click above to see some popular Twitter users

Follow people on Instagram to see day-to-day designing and printing, learning by casually observing

Click above to see who to follow on Instagram

Some channels are dedicated to 3D printing, but occassionally you'll see a YouTuber use a printer in an episode or two.

Here is a good writeup of many 3DP YouTubers.

There are many great tutorials on YouTube, like for learning Fusion 360, Reviewing Printers, and painting 3D prints.

Look below to find many YouTube channels

There is a subreddit community for most popular 3D printing interests

Go to /r/3DPrinting to get a quick look at what people are printing today.

Go to /r/FunctionalPrints if you want to see only prints that have a function beyond aesthetics.

/r/PrintedMinis focuses on printing miniatures largely for tabletop games.

Look below for many subreddits and reddit-highlights surrounding 3D printing.

Many coordinated efforts for building face-shields and masks during the COVID-19 crisis on Twitter.

Twitter is a common meeting ground for the everyday makers and the more-serious YouTubers and Organization-Runners.

Look below to find lots of inspiration on who to follow

Many studios and designers showcase their work on Instagram.

Instagram is a great place for viewing everyday creation, and hearing about the latest tech developements like happenings at 3D printing conferences.

Look below for people to follow on Instagram

Have any other Questions? Search for Answers from Online Printing Communities

How do I Print This?
First, Download this design from Thingiverse.

Next, you will need to import the design into a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program. We recommend TinkerCAD, a free online app made for anyone of any age to modify 3D printable designs.

In TinkerCAD you can quickly change the size, add text, remove parts, or combine with other designs. Learn more about remixing in TinkerCAD here, or more generally about designing here.
This is the best option for 3D printing beginners. They will ensure that the design you requested can be printed, and will help answer your questions.
This is usually less expensive than Online Services, but they do not print in more exotic materials.

Feel free to contact them about your print and desired materials Talk with a Shop
This is the most expensive option, but you can print on many more materials like metal, glass, and flexible plastics. In addition to printing fees, you will pay for shipping. Click the button below to see exact pricing and material options for this design.

Importantly, you are guaranteed no help or consultation from the people printing, so only order designs you know to be printable. If you are just starting printing, or have questions about printing this design, we recommend the "Consult and Print with a Nearby Shop" option above.
Get Exact Price Quote of 3D File Print Online with Help
This is by far the least expensive way to print, as you only have to pay for material usage (~$9/lb for common plastics). However, this is also the most challenging way to print, as you will need to learn much more about how to print or find people that can help you.

The "How To Print" link details the process you need to print without the help of a service:

Any 3D printer you will use will require lots of trial-and-error to learn. This is normal, but your first prints may be easier when done through a nearby shop. There, you will not need to learn any more about 3D printing than what is necessary to get started
Similar Designs
Learn from Online Communities