Advanced 3D printing

You feel comfortable (not really, but you still do it) letting your printer run overnight on long jobs. You can list several things you would change about your printer if you could. Its time to experiment with the medium, new filaments, more advanced designs, new finishing techniques.

Tools you should have: Advanced

Other Sources of Models

There are several other sites besides Thingiverse that offer models for download. There are a few different "types" of models, Some are intended as assets for games, or just for illustrative purposes. Some are scans of existing objects (there are many museums that are digitizing their collections for preservation). Some are design models used in manufacturing. Models that are suitable for 3D printing need to have certain characteristics:

  • They need to be in one piece (no floating parts)
  • They need to be watertight (have a defined inside & outside)
  • The walls of the model must not be too thin (depends on your printer, but more than than .2 mm is a good start)
  • For FDM printers unsupported overhangs shouldn't be more than 45 degrees (there are techniques that can handle steeper overhangs)

Thingiverse, is the earliest hobbyist focussed 3D model repository. It has the largest selection of items.

MyMiniFactory, which launched in 2013, aims to be the world’s leading curated social platform for 3D printable objects. On MyMiniFactory, you can find tens of thousands of free and paid 3D designs ready for you to download.

Prusa has put together a model repository. They recently rebranded it as Printables. It specializes in models for Prusa's FDM and SLA printers, naturally. There are a nice set of filters based on print time, nozzle size, amount of material or resin type. They have numerous design contests.

Thangs is a community upload and model management site. It is a bit newer and is growing quickly. They have a geometric search option where you can upload an stl file and see if it matches any other uploads.

Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.

Libre3d has a small selection, downloads are straightforward, the menu system is a little odd.

Yeggi is a search engine for 3D printable models, both free and paid. It indexes Thingiverse, cgtrader, Cults, Pinshape, 3DExport, MyMiniFactory, YouMagine, TinkerCAD, and more. A good place to get an overview of what folks are creating in the 3D printing space.

NASA has made available 3D models of their spacecraft, Apollo landing sites, some asteroids, and other miscellaneous space equipment. Some of the models are printable and they are working on releasing more.

A Search engine for 3D models.

A small design team specializing in articulated doll models and cool fantasy bones & skulls.

YouMagine is an online community of 3D printing enthusiasts who wish to work together to share, remix and make better 3D printed things. YouMagine facilitates this community, empowers and gives you the tools you need in order to improve, invent & make.

A 3D Model marketplace which includes a section where people can post projects and solicit designers to work on them. If you have 3D design skills, this may be a good place to find some freelance work.

A 3D Model marketplace which also offers custom 3D Design services.

A 3D Model marketplace oriented toward the Gaming and AR communities

A collection of models and renderings not necessarily printable.

A search engine that specializes in 3D models of parts from manufacturers for commercial CAD applications.

The Smithsonian Institution has digitized a few items in its vast collection. For the 50 Anniversary of the Moon Landing, they sponsored a build of the Command Module hatch, and invited several makers to contribute pieces. There is video of Adam Savage of Mythbusters doing the final assembly.

The National Institute of Health's 3D Print Exchange provides models in formats that are readily compatible with 3D printers, and offers a unique set of tools to create and share 3D-printable models related to biomedical science.

Upgrading the Firmware

Most of the current 3D printers in the hobbyist market run on an Arduino microcontroller based main board. This makes modifying the firmware as easy as downloading the Arduino IDE and the firmware source, making your modifications and uploading it to your printer via USB. Thomas Sanladerer has a nice video how to on upgrading the marlin firmware.


Code that runs on the printer and interprets G-code, runs the motors, sensors, fans, hot-end etc...

Upgrading the Hardware

Common modifications our members have done

Printing Upgrades for your Printer

Its almost a trope, many of your prints will be upgrades and customizations for your printer. Possibly a leftover from the from the early days of self made 3D printers, or a necessary step to make up for the corners cut by cheap 3D printer vendors.

    Thingiverse has a large selection of things you can build for your printer: Fan shrouds, spool holders, knobs etc...

Automatic Bed Leveling

Getting the bed level is essential for good prints, and a real pain on printers that do not have this feature. You have to fiddle with knobs on the corners of a heated build plate, using feeler gauges (or folded paper you hope is the right thickness). There are several vendors who are happy to sell you sensors and most of the modern firmware support using those sensors to provide the feature (with possibly some recompilation).

Filament Runout Sensor

Running out of filament during an unattended print is a common nightmare.

Adding Lighting

Having good lighting can help you diagnose many problems. It also looks really cool.

More Tips and Tricks

Here are some YouTube Channels that are popular with our members. More channels on our Resources page.

Angus of Makers Muse provides lots of accessable design tips and makes a good introduction to the process and craft of 3D printing.

Joel from 3D Printing Nerd brings a lot of joy and enthusiasm to the subject of 3D printing, another good channel for folks just starting out.

Everything about 3D Printing and Making! Build guides, tutorials, tips and reviews around the new generation of consumer and prosumer 3D printers (and more)!

Practical 3D printing and design. Lots of interesting TinkerCAD design tips.

Stefan of CNC Kitchen explores the materials science aspects of 3D printing with his Universal Test Machine. Look here for info on the strongest designs and materials.

Chris delves deeply into advanced printer modifications and marlin firmware.

Michael from Teaching Tech is a school teacher with a wide variety of interests. Less technical than Chris's Basement, he covers lots of printer modifications.

Ideas on how to use 3D printing to make some amazing things. Techniques for finishing 3D printer parts.