What to Print with Your New Makerbot
Let’s say you’re one of the lucky people who got a new MakerBot Replicator Plus 3D Printer for Christmas. Now what do you do with it? You have seen all the amazing things people have been creating with them and you’re wondering where to start. You probably know a bit about how to try and make your own STL models from scratch using a CAD program, but if you’re not lucky enough to have a license of SOLIDWORKS on hand to play with, it can take some time to model up the parts you will want to print. Lucky for you, there are lots of large and active communities of makers who love to share what they have already created!
If you are looking to make something that is not 100% unique, it is a good habit to check some of the community sites online first to see if it has already been made. There are 3 main sites that we recommend checking and each has its own advantages. The sites are 3DContentCentral.com, Grabcad.com, and Thingiverse.com.
3DContentCentral.com is a very powerful community that is made of over 1.5 Million CAD users. The parts that are loaded up here tend to be more professional focused. This means they are actual component parts like computer chips, gears, bolts, flanges, motors, and much more. On top of that the models are very high quality and can be downloaded in native SOLIDWORKS, and different versions, or as any of a large list of native CAD file formats. The site also has Library features, Macros, 2D Blocks, and much more.
Thingiverse.com is a website geared towards to hobbyist and maker communities. They have almost 700,000 different 3D models to search through so far. This community is gears more away from dealing with CAD data and more for small size STL files that are ready to be 3D printed directly. Here you will find lots of toys and fun widgets and simple utility items for everyday things such as custom phone cases and sculptures.
Grabcad.com is the last website we will talk about today. This community has over 1.5 Million free files and fits in between the professional 3DContentCentral.com and hobbyist Thingiverse.com. Here you will find a mix of parts for gears and cases and brackets and also a good selection fun, hobby level, parts and models. The other advantage of Grabcad.com is that you can download the files directly as a SOLIDWORKS file to be able to edit and make any changes to it much easier.
Sr. Application Engineer, Additive Manufacturing
Computer Aided Technology