This post is part of an ongoing series covering aspects of 3D printing from scanning objects, to creating digital 3D models, and then printing the digital files as physical 3D replicas. As I explored this topic, I collected links to many outstanding resources.
• People who have access to a 3D printer can browse online libraries for downloadable files.
• People who do not have access to a 3D printer can check out organizations that will print and ship 3D-printed replicas to them.
online libraries containing digital 3D models
Here is a list of online libraries that offer 3D models downloadable as digital files that can be sent to a 3D printer. Many of these links were recommended by members of the Tactile Art and Graphics Specialist, TAGS mailing list during December 2019. Thanks everyone!
Sites that offer 3D models in multiple categories
3D models uploaded by specific organizations
Some organizations maintain online libraries of models that are specific to their area of expertise.
NASA offers printable models of space craft including rockets, rovers, shuttles, and the International Space Station. For more information, read this post about searching the NASA library for a model of the Perseverance Rover.
The Smithsonian 3D digitization database contains models of many different objects from animal skulls to presidential portraits, and much more. The models can be viewed onscreen or downloaded as printable files.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers biomedical 3D printable files and 3D printing resources.
organizations that will print and ship 3D-printed replicas
Some services will print and ship 3D replicas to individuals upon request. The examples below highlight paid, or free, models.
The Shapeways marketplace offers prints searchable by category including jewelry, phone cases, tabletop game accessories and more. The company uses industrial-grade printers and offers models in several types of plastic or other materials like steel, bronze, brass, silver, gold, wax, porcelain, or aluminum.
Kraftwurx Is a company that serves 3D designers. It lets them upload files, specify materials, and order prints that can be sent to their customers.
See3D is a non-profit organization that organizes the printing and distribution of 3D printed models for people who are blind.
Many organizations maintain online libraries of 3D models. Some make downloadable files available, and others also ship physical 3D-printed replicas. Anyone seeking a specific model can search the sites listed here or search the web for other sources.