Downloading STL files

I am new to 3D printing.
I am trying to download STL files from Thingiverse but my computer keeps prompting me for a program.
But i dont know what program to download so that I can then save the STL files from Thingiverse.
I hope to then open them in 123D.
Can anyone help please. :smiley:

There are two ways to download STL files from Thingiverse. You can download individual *.stl files by clicking on them, or you can download all files for a given design as a ^.zip file. For example, if you go to one of my designs and click on the blue “Download this Thing!” button, it opens the file selection window. If you click on any of the individual files in there, it will download the STL file directly. If you click instead on the blue “Download All Files” button, it will prompt you to download a compressed zip file, in this particular case called “”

There might be a customizer program that goes with a few of the parametric things that can be adjusted, but other then that you shouldn’t be seeing a program download from thingiverse unless you don’t have adobe flash player installed or maybe java if it requires it for the model viewer. Which specific program is it prompting you for?

It sounds like your browser’s default is set download and open a file when you click the link to a file. Most browsers will let you right click on a link, and then from the context menu choose “save as” or “save link as” or “download as” (or some other similar concept implying that you will just download and name the file rather than open or run it). You will then get a dialogue box asking you where you want to save the file and also give you the option to rename it. Some browsers if they don’t have a program associated with the file extension, will give you a dialgue when you left click the link asking whether to open the file or save it somewhere. If you select the save option, that’s essentially the same as the right click method.

Once the file is saved, open up your slicer or CAD software, or whatever program you want to view the file with, and open the file like you would any other. For example, in Cura there is a big “Load Model” button – click that, navigate to your file, open it up, set your print settings, and print it.

Thanks for the replies.
A big help.
Before I buy a 3D printer I really am trying to find out where to start. I want to understand 3D printing before I buy.
I am struggling to find a start point, so to speak. As searching the subject is huge.
Any help greatly appreciated.
Can I open and STL files in 123 D or are there similar programs for a novice.
What is a Slicer??. I am really the ‘Novice’ :wink:

Yes I use 123D on a limited basis and it will open STL files without a problem. Please note there are two ways to save output files from 123, one is online on the Cloud, the other is locally on your hard drive. You have to really try hard to save on your HD, as 123 wants to take charge for you.
When a file is sent to the 3D printer it needs to be sliced into layers the printer understands, since it prints in slices, kind of anyway, the slicer program can be modified. I would suggest once you get 123D up and understand how it works, then download the CURA program for the printer your going to buy. May I suggest the TAZ Mini, simple and easy to use needs some tweaking to run ABS successfully but its a good solid machine. You can use CURA without modification and it works fine. Don’t get lead down the path that you need something more, you will in the future but having something working is a big advantage when you are just starting out.

Thanks George

I have looked at alot of printers. I like the Lutzbot Mini 3D. It has auto leveling and cleaning.
There are some comments about the noise. Is that just something to put up with.
As a complete novice I need something super simple.
I will try 123D before I buy the printer. I need to know what I am doing before I buy the printer.
Are there any websites that allow you to alter 3D prints. Like Thingiverse. But designs that can be actually altered.
Thanks again. Any help at all is really appreciated.

I didn’t have much luck manipulating STLs in 123D. It could have been my lack of knowledge about 123D and functions and features could have changed in the last year. Overall though, 123D is a great modeling software. I couldn’t get over some quirks with accuracy… again, probably my lack of experience with the package.

SketchUp allows importing of most STLs. Once imported, the STLs can be manipulated. Sketchup works fine for 3D printing, but isn’t specifically written with that in mind. So you have to take care to ensure all parts are manifold / water-tight. With that said, there are a lot of plugins for Sketchup to assist with designing towards 3D printing, and the I find that its very accurate with guide lines and inference… Great youtube videos to get you started.

Meshmixer might be your best bet to import and manipulate STLs. Not as intuitive as a drawing program…

If there is a makerspace in your area, I would highly suggest going there and using their printers a few times. The people will sit down with you and walk you through the complete process after which you’ll have a basic understanding of the toolchain (make something in some CAD program, export to STL, send STL to slicer to create gcode, send gcode to printer). It’s a great way to get exposure before buying a printer.

Why I chose the Mini:

I had been printing at a makerspace and they have a lot of printers: a couple Afinia’s (like this one:, a plywood makerbot or ultimaker, an Orion Delta ( ), an ultimaker2 ( ), and a homebrew system. Of those, the only printers I used were the Orion, which did fine, and the ultimaker2, which randomly shifted my prints 2mm on the X axis twice in a row destroying two long prints: the first time was only 30 minutes in, the second was after over 12 hours of printing.

As for the other printers, I wasn’t really interested in the low-fi homebrew system, I never ever once saw either of the Afinias up and running, and the plywood printer sometimes was up but I never had a chance to use it. The only one that ever worked nicely for me was the Orion Delta. I think the Orion is a nice printer, and it can print tall, but the build plate is only six inches in diameter which limits you to a square of about 4.3". Basically, after a few visits, I knew I didn’t really want to get any of the printers I’d used at the makerspace and I was skeptical about the ones I hadn’t used because they were frequently down and awaiting parts to arrive by UPS.

The ultimaker2 is around $2500 and it was way beyond my budget, but I also didn’t care for the design of the build plate. The build plate is only supported on the backside. It would seem to me, I’m not an engineer mind you, that over time, the unsupported front side of that build plate is going to warp downward. Look closely at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s one example: – the buildplate is just an aluminum slab sticking out into the air. So another thing I added to my list of desireable features was a well supported build plate.

Another thing I didn’t want to do was spend a ton of money on a first printer. It was valid to ask myself “will I really use this to the point I get my money’s worth?” To minimize the chance I’d waste money on what would become a doorstop, I decided to limit my budget to $1500 max. That immediately eliminated the big names like Makerbot and Ultimaker. In the end I was down to considering the Flashforge Creator Pro ( ) and the Lulzbot Mini. There are some very informative comments about the Flashforge Creator, and it looks like a good machine, but importantly, it looks like you immediately need to modify it because the aluminum bed warps. When I thought back to the makerspace with half a dozen printers where never more than half of them ever worked at one time, I decided I didn’t want to deal with a printer I’d have to do a bunch of tweaking to before I was experienced.

Secondly, while support for the FF is reputedly very good, it is a Chinese made printer, has a 3 month warranty, and support is by email. I decided I’d rather give my money to some people in Colorado who would be able to talk with me on the phone if I had issues, plus the Lulzbot warranty is one year which seemed important to me considering how often the makerspace printers were down.

So I made the leap and bought the Mini – I’m glad I did, it’s reputation for working out of the box is totally deserved. It was delivered and I was printing out the test object within 30 minutes. I’ve been using it almost daily for the last two months now and the only real problems I’ve had have been due to my errors (like trying to print ABS at PLA temps). Rather than learning how to rebuild the machine from day one, I’ve been learning how to design objects so that they print nicely, how to tweak print settings to get good results, and how different materials have different post-print workability characteristics.

It’s been awesome and I really feel I made the right choice as a beginner. Once I get enough experience to know how to print well from a filament, CAD, and slicer perspective, I could add in the additional complications of bed leveling (or bed replacement), finicky hot ends that clog up (I’ve not had a single clog in two months of continuous printing), upgrading the bed surface (the mini requires no kapton, no blue tape, no glue stick – the PEI bed is a sort of magic), and all the other baloney other printers seem to require. There are a lot of variables that go into a print and so limiting those is helping me learn faster because I don’t have to deal with all of them at once. Later, when I have this knowledge down, I think I’ll feel comfortable with something more finicky.

Mega Dittos on the TAZ Min. I was thinking about building one, but there is a big advantage into having a working machine from Day One. The self leveling feature with the nozzle cleaning is making me wait for the TAZ 6 IF I ever decide to go big.