A few days ago, I met Miguel Angel Villar Alarcon, one of the managers at Spanish 3D Systems’ distributor Impresoras 3D, who introduced me to a side project he has been working at: an online tool to unite all major 3D printable model databases under one roof. While there are already are quite a few such projects out there, his STL Finder seems to be one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use, especially on mobile platforms.
One of the features I liked the most about STL Finder is the drop-down menu that lets you select which databases to explore and whether you want to look for free or pay-to-download models. Although the mobile apps for STL Finder are still in development, this feature works very well even if you access site from a mobile browser. Through this feature, you are able to quickly explore a complete selection of 3D model databases, which includs model marketplaces, like Shapeways and 3DaGogGo, as well as the most popular free 3D model sharing websites, such as Thingiverse, GrabCAD, and Youmagine.
The system developed by Miguel also caters to today’s need for rapid and immediate, yet personalized, interaction by letting you create your profile simply by inserting your email and selecting a password. Once you have done so, you will be able to save your favorite 3D models and create your own personal database by clicking on the “star” button next to each item. After that, you will be prompted to select a folder or create a new one. To further speed up access, the system automatically generates a QR Code, which you can access through a smartphone or tablet to save the 3D model in your collection.
STL Finder is built in a such a way that it can be easily updated and expanded to include new model marketplaces as they emerge, giving you the possibility to select those that most fit your specific 3D modelling needs. Future possibilities to follow specific public lists of certain objects – and possible integration with direct 3D printing services – may prove to be essential in offering users quick access to their 3D printing need, wherever, and whenever.