3D Printing Search Engines: 3D printing is an amazing, transformative, cutting-edge technology. So cutting edge, in fact, that most 3D Printing search engines have a hard time truly keeping up with the needs of 3D printers. You might be asking yourself, “how do I find printable 3D models?”, or “is there something like Google, but for 3D printing?”
The answer is a resounding, “we’re getting there.” Most communities and marketplaces for printable 3D models have some kind of internal search function, and those are usually at least serviceable. Still, the appeal of a search engine dedicated solely to scanning repositories of 3D models for your query? The Google of 3D model searches? Does such an engine exist?
Let’s take a look.
Best 3D Printing Search Engines
Yeggi – The Undisputed Leader
Any conversation about 3D Printing search engines for printable 3D models should begin with Yeggi. A meta search engine, focused solely on printable 3D models, Yeggi scours marketplaces and communities like Thingiverse, 3DLT, GrabCAD, and many more. At the time of this article’s writing (August 2019), there were over 1 million 3D models in its database – 1,142,519 3D Models to be exact – with more added all the time.
When it comes to using Yeggi, it’s remarkably straightforward. Input your search terms, click on results for some of their most-searched models, or try some trending search terms. Using advanced options, you can filter your results to include only free models, only paid models, or both, and sort by popularity, latest entries, or simply the best match.
Using Yeggi’s search function is a great way to find a rabbit hole or several to get lost in; it’s easy to while away the hours in discovering communities and marketplaces you might have otherwise missed.
Established in April of 2013, Yeggi has been steadily growing its online database ever since, and is pretty clearly the undisputed heavyweight in the field of printable 3D model search engines. Just like with standard use 3D Printing search engines, plenty of other sites have come and gone in that time, with relatively few finding their footing.
However, “few” is not the same thing as “none”.
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Yobi3D – The Filter Powerhouse
Yobi3D doesn’t make the best first impression. When heading to its home page, you’re greated by a simple logo, a search bar, and some popular and recent search terms beneath it. Aside from an icon to log in in the upper right, that’s it. While its minimalist design is aesthetically pleasing, it makes a critical mistake; hiding its best feature, the filter options.
After inputting a search term, you’re taken to a far less attractive – but far more functional – interface, showing not only the results of your search, but the option to filter your results. Why they buried this feature isn’t immediately clear, as it’s by far and away the best argument for using Yobi 3D instead of Yeggi.
Click on that tab, and you find yourself presented with a bevy of search options; from file format, minimum and maximum polygon counts, an easy, medium, hard printability scale, choices of textured, rigged, and animated, and the type of license, if you’re looking for something specific, the filters are incredibly useful. Which is a good thing, too – compared to Yeggi, Yobi3D’s search results tend to include more unrelated search items, duplicate entries, and general noise.
But if you know precisely what you want, this is a great way to get to it.
STLFinder – The Community Engine
Stepping into the void left by defunct printable 3D Printing search engines like 3dbility, STLFInder takes a different approach, by augmenting its search engine with quality of life features, including tabs for favorites, historical searches, and collections, giving users plenty of reasons to create an account, and engage with the community. With its curated collections, STLFinder does a great job of fostering a sense of engagement; less like a bare-bones search engine, and more like you’re engaging with the maker community. It doubles down on this with its news aggregation tab, featuring articles relevant to the world of 3D printing, again doing a solid job of making the user feel connected to a larger community.
Still, at the end of the day, this is a search engine, not a social networking site. The big question is still; how does it stack up in that regard? As it turns out, pretty well. It claims to have over 2 million models in its index, and while that’s difficult to test, there’s certainly no shortage of hits. Its recommendations provide a variety of useful suggestions, and its filtering options split the difference between Yeggi’s streamlined approach, and Yobi3D’s exhaustive options, instead letting you select which repositories you’d like to search from, as well as including or excluding paid and free models.
Whatever your’re looking for, between these three 3D Printing search engines, you should find it.