So you’ve got the basics down, you’ve either got a 3D printer or are thinking of purchasing one. Now you are going to need to find something to actually print. This means you are going to need to track down some .STL files that match your needs. You’ll then turn them into .gcode files if you are using a FDM printer, or whatever file format your SLA printer uses (such as an anycubic photon that uses .photon files).
.stl Search Engines
- Yeggi: Yeggi is a search engine for 3D printable models that searches some of the most common websites and currently indexes around 1.7 million models.
- stl finder: A search engine that crawls popular 3D printing sites similar to Yeggi.
Free Sources of .stl files
- Thingiverse: The undisputed king of free 3d printed files, Thingiverse is run by makerbot and the first place you should start out when you get a 3D printer. Hosting over 1 million files, this is the largest repository of files on the internet. Your best bet is to search collections rather than files and go from there.
- Youmagine: Has a selection of Sci Fi and Fantasy miniatures for popular wargames
- Shapeways: Shapeways primarily deals with physically printed miniatures, but if you look carefully you can find some free STL downloads as well, mainly for sci fi and fantasy.
Premium Sources of .stl files
- Heroforge Custom Miniatures: Allows you to create your own fantasy miniatures which you can download as a STL and print yourself.
- CGTrader: CG Trader is a market place for 3D models for Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 3D printing. The problem with CG trader is it is very hard to navigate and it’s search functionality is terrible and search results often are incomplete or mixed with the VR/AR or Computer Graphics products. That said, if you know what to look for it is a good source for 3D models for printing, especially when it comes to certain sci-fi and fantasy games.
- MyMiniFactory: Think of this like a free/premium version of Thingiverse, that has a tabletop gaming specific section. There is a good selection of figures here, with a lot of sci fi and fantasty options available. It does not however have any subcategories for scale/conflict or game.
- Cults: A french site dedicated to 3D printing files, there are some wargaming miniatures available here.
- Pinshape: Another Free/Premium marketplace for a 3D Printing files, this one has a really good selection of miniatures, especially those related to some well known sci fi and fantasy games.
- 3D Export: Similar to CG Trader this marketplace includes 3D models for printing alongside computer graphics. These tend to range in the $5-20 price range.
- Kickstarter: Kickstarter for the uninitiated is a crowdfunding marketplace. This is where you back a project that may not be completed yet, and as the backing meets certain goals, extras (known as stretch goals) are added. You may have to wait some time for products to be delivered, while others may be delivered instantly. Often kickstarter is a good source for large sets of 3D printed terrain files.
- Patreon: Patreon is a subscription based website that allows you to subscribe to a designer and receive what is usually a monthly pack of all the models they’ve made that month plus whatever is included in the welcome pack. These tend to be mostly sci fi and fantasty currently and some of the designers are sailing pretty close to the wind when it comes to copyright/IP related t some of the major gaming companies. Still it’s worth checking out Ill Gotten Games, The Makers Cult, Terrain4Print etc..
- 3D Wargaming: Based in Canada – they make probably some of the most detailed models out there, 3D Wargaming deal primarily in 1/56 files for WWII AFVs and Aircraft. They also have a selection of pre printed models available, you can also find them on their kickstarter account where they are currently crowdfunding for planes that are suitable for 1/48-1/300 scales.
- Printable Scenery: Based in Wellington, New Zealand this is probably the best source of premium 3D printed terrain on the internet. They often use Kickstarter to launch their terrain packs and that is by far the best value way of purchasing them for early backers, otherwise you can also purchase individual pieces from their web store. They have historical, sci fir and fantasy terrain available.
- Infinite Dimensions: Based in Canada – Infinite Dimensions specialise in designing files for 3D printed terrain, mostly focusing on Fantasy. They are known for their Wightwood Abbey and Battle Grip systems.
- Corvus Games Terrain: Based in Ireland, Corvus games offers both printed and STL versions of their terrain, with Sci Fi, Modern/Urban and Gaslands themed terrain available.
- Wargame Vault: Featuring multiple publishers Wargame Vault hosts both terrain and vehicles for a variety of scales and settings including sci fi, fantasy and historical.
- Warlayer: creators of 3D printable terrain, mostly suitable for Sci Fi wargaming
The Wargaming3D.com Marketplace
Most of these of course have a huge problem, that is – discoverability and quality control. As much as I love thingiverse (I spend a decent amount of time on there every single day), it relies on the search engine, has no way of easily sorting between different scales, conflicts or forces, there is very little quality control and many of the designs have never actually been printed. This is something that bugged me for a while, and I first started by trying to add things into a variety of collections (you can find my collections on Thingiverse here, which are divided into a variety of games, forces and scales), but that very quickly got unwieldy.
This is why we created the wargaming3d.com marketplace. This allows designers whom we have personally vetted and have a history of producing quality 3d printed designs to upload and sell their files. We have set this up so that you can easily navigate by scale, conflict and force to easily find what you are looking for. You can find the wargaming3d.com marketplace here. Most files are either free or $2-5 each and new files are being added every day. Available scales include: 1/1800, 1/900, 1/300, 1/200, 1/100 and 1/56 and covers a wide range of conflicts including WWI, WWII, Modern with Napoleonics, generic Sci Fi and Fantasy files coming soon.
What if you are a designer?
First and foremost, I’d suggest setting up an account on thingiverse and sharing your free files, especially remixes there. If however you are an experienced designer and want to start sharing your files on the wargaming3d.com platform, then the best way to do that is by getting in touch via the Vendor Registration form. That will submit your details (Account Name, Description, Paypal for payouts if you are doing premium files) and any other important information), to be vetted by the wargaming3d.com team. We are looking for a few things:
- That your files do not violate any copyrights or licences
- That you have test printed your files, and clearly state whether they are for FDM or SLA printing
- That you have clearly marked what scale, conflict and force your files are for
If we like what we see, we will set you up with an account/storefront that will allow you to add your own files to the wargaming3d.com marketplace. Please note that we do not accept all applications and any accounts found to be violating any copyrights will be quickly removed. We expect that all files that are remixes clearly state the original source and abide by creative commons licencing, as well as being free downloads. Those that are 100% of your own work can be charged for, wargaming3d.com will take 5% of the sale (which goes towards covering the costs of hosting the site, plus any plugins or if necessary test printing your models for quality control) plus any transaction fees which go to paypal and will pay out in 24 hours via paypal masspay. Compared to popular platforms mentioned in this article that take around 30% and can take up to 35 days to pay out we hope that it’s a great service for both creators and makers alike.