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Free Files, Anyone?

2019 Best Sites Free STL Files for CNC Routers

Picture of Tom Will
by Tom Will
Oct 20, 2019
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Check our selection of the best sites to download free STL files for CNC routers as well as free CNC 3D models in other file formats.

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models The Art of High-Speed Chipping

CNC milling a simple 2D design into a wooden plank.
CNC milling a simple 2D design into a wooden plank. (Source: lagunatools.com)

CNC (computer numeric control) machines have been around much longer than 3D printers, the first coming out in the 1960s. These are machines that use a computer to move a spinning drill bit to systematically remove material. CNC manufacturing is subtractive, which is the opposite of 3D printing, an additive process.

As for 3D printing, there are many sites offering 3D models and STL files for CNC machining. The question is, which should you use? Read on for our favorites!

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Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models Selection Criteria

CNC milling can even be used for tough metals.
CNC milling can even be used for tough metals. (Source: lvcnc.com)

While compiling the list of potential libraries available, we found over 50 different sites, so we needed to pare the list down. The following criteria were used:

  • Number of models: For many, this is the most important criteria.
  • Pricing: In general, most sites offer all their files for free or give prices on a model-by-model basis.
  • Ease of use: How easy is it to find CNC models to cut?
  • 2D file availability: 2D files can be easier to use for some CNC jobs.

We then divided the list into four groups:

  • Free: Large sites usually mean a large number of objects.
  • Some free: Opportunity brings sellers, and that means traffic.
  • 2D designs: 2D designs are generally more popular in consumer CNC milling.
  • Aggregators: These sites allow you to search across multiple libraries.
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1

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models GrabCAD (Free)

GrabCAD's main screen with the most popular model filter selected
GrabCAD's main screen with the most popular model filter selected. (Source: GrabCAD)

GrabCAD boasts over 6 million users, so many of the best modelers drop their goodies here. In addition to the Model Library, they offer Challenges, Tutorials, and more. The library view also has filters that allow you to view popular items, categories, and software. Searching GrabCAD for “CNC models” yields more items related to making or enhancing your CNC than models to cut, but scrolling through you’ll find some good cuts, like a Spartan Keychain by Paolo Minieri.

Number of models: ~3,800,000

Pricing: All free

CNC search criteria: Satisfactory

2D files: Yes

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2

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models Thingiverse (Free)

Searching for
Searching for "cnc bowl" brings some good results. (Source: Thingiverse)

Thingiverse has 3 million users, so you can find many useful models for CNC milling. If you search for CNC models, much like other sites, you’ll find models related to building CNC machines, but refining your search, for example “CNC bowl”, will get you some nice designs to cut. Thingiverse seems to have more CNC designs than any other site we’ve found. However, it can be painfully slow at times, both with searches and downloading.

Number of models: ~1,500,000

Pricing: All free

CNC search criteria: Good

2D files: Yes

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3

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models CGTrader (Some Free)

Note the ability to select
Note the ability to select "free" models in the search criteria. (Source: CGTrader)

The first difference you will see when you try CGTrader is prices on some models. But there are still a good amount of free models, and CGTraders’ filters allow you to focus in on those quickly. Nevertheless, sometimes you just need to spend some money to get exactly what you want.

CGTrader has the most 3D models to carve than any other site we’ve found. There are 3D CNC items from bear heads to intricate models for your home. The search engine is one of the best, allowing you to zero in on what you want. At the top of the model browser, you’ll find filters such as a file format, polygon count, and price filter, among others.

Number of models: ~900,000

Pricing: Free and paid

CNC search criteria: Very Good

2D files: Yes

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4

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models 3DExport (Some Free)

The 3DExport browser after a search for CNC bowls
The 3DExport browser after a search for CNC bowls. (Source: 3DExport)

3DExport has a collection of free and paid models to choose from. The model browser is tile-based and the search engine is quick and efficient. We found the category UI was a mixed bag: It’s quick to navigate to the exact category you want using the long list, but when not needed, it simply takes up too much space.

Like other libraries, the search is adorned with a free filter, so you can keep your cash and still have a good time. The search may seem cluttered at times, but it works well. Another downside is the inability to find specific model or file types, like DXF or SVG.

Number of models: ~200,000

Pricing: Free and paid

CNC search criteria: Good

2D files: Yes

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5

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models TurboSquid (Some Free)

TurboSquid's model detail is excellent with bread crumbs on categories, tags, specifications, and more.
TurboSquid's model detail is excellent with bread crumbs on categories, tags, specifications, and more. (Source: TurboSquid)

TurboSquid is another combination of free and paid models, although searching for “CNC” and selecting free only returns 71 available models. (Nevertheless, some of them are nice.) TurboSquid’s search engine is fast and allows you to apply filters like file formats, polygon counts, and more. And if you’re willing to shell out some pennies, you’ve got even more options.

Number of models: ~200,000

Pricing: Free and paid

CNC search criteria: Satisfactory

2D files: Yes

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6

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models Cults3D (Some Free)

A search for
A search for "CNC Model" on Cults3D. Notice the large blank area limiting our results. (Source: Cults3D)

Cults3D is another library with both free and paid models. A quick search for “CNC model” brings up models that are relatively specific to CNC carving, just as you’d like to see. Overall, the ability to search is just satisfactory as you can’t search by file type. There are many categories available, including one called “Random”, although we aren’t sure how often we’d need lists of random models…

Number of models: ~65,000

Pricing: Free and paid

CNC search criteria: Satisfactory

2D files: Yes

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7

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models LoveSVG (2D Designs)

LoveSVG's main screen with all of the categories.
LoveSVG's main screen with all of the categories. (Source: LoveSVG)

CNC mills don’t require an STL file. You could easily save text as an SVG or DXF file and cut those letters out, gluing them to a piece of plywood to make a nice 3D sign. LoveSVG is a collection of 7,000 models that do just that. It has a strong focus on holidays but has other categories, as well, such as Animals, Pets, Teacher, Nature, and more. The search engine is quick enough but limited in its ability to help you narrow in on your search.

Number of models: ~7,000

Pricing: Mostly free

CNC search criteria: Satisfactory

2D files: Yes

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8

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models DXF1 (2D Designs)

DXF1's main library browser is limited and doesn't use space very well
DXF1's main library browser is limited and doesn't use space very well. (Source: DXF1)

At the lower end of the spectrum, in terms of quality of models available, is DXF1. It’s a collection of some 4,000 free DXF models that you can easily cut on a CNC mill. The interface and search are limited, but the site is responsive. If you’re dying for some quality DXF files, though, look elsewhere.

Number of models: ~4,000

Pricing: Free

CNC search criteria: OK

2D files: Yes

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9

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models Yeggi (Aggregator)

Nice clean library browser with limited ads.
Nice clean library browser with limited ads. (Source: Yeggi)

Yeggi takes your search criteria and applies them across multiple 3D model sites. It’s the king of appearing above almost all other sites if you start with a Google search. The site doesn’t store any models, they just point to other libraries.

What we love about Yeggi is that it keeps the ads out of your way, displaying more of your search. Yeggi is fast and searches across more than 3 million models, although we don’t know exactly which libraries it’s searching. Yeggi might just speed up your search time, giving you more time to cut, so give it a try.

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10

Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models STLFinder (Aggregator)

Good, detailed information on each model displayed in the browser.
Good, detailed information on each model displayed in the browser. (Source: STLFinder)

STLFinder is another aggregator, like Yeggi. Its search page doesn’t bring up as many CNC designs on the initial screen but says it has over 600 pages of models matching “CNC”, so we know there are some great models in its index. STLFinder calls itself “the search engine for 3D models,” although it doesn’t state how many models are in its index.

For searching across multiple sites, STLFinder is very responsive and its ads are neatly tucked away to the side, just like Yeggi, giving you more room to see your search results.

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Free STL Files for CNC Routers / CNC 3D Models In Closing

CNC cutting a relief carving of Pegasus.
CNC cutting a relief carving of Pegasus. (Source: Roger Webb / YouTube)

Hopefully, we’ve helped you narrow down your search for free or low-cost models that are worthy of cutting on your CNC. Even if you don’t have a specific idea in mind, you’re bound to find something cool if you spending long enough with some of these libraries.

Let the chips fly!

(Lead image source: Good Machine / YouTube)

License: The text of "2019 Best Sites Free STL Files for CNC Routers" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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