One of the most exciting things about 3D printing in the classroom is being able to bring the world into your students’ hands.  Here are some of our top design repositories to go to for educational manipulatives to print on your MOD-t.

(Just a head’s up: We haven’t tested every model from these repositories, so be aware that you may need to use Cura or a different slicer to format these models so that they are appropriate for 3D printing on a desktop machine. You can learn how to download and use Cura in this blog post and you can read about how to ensure print success in this blog post. Working together with your class to orient and adjust print settings for a design could be a great critical thinking exercise!)

African Fossils

This incredible site has a collection of artifacts and fossils found at Lake Turkana in East Africa, including antelope horns, an African lion skull, a mountain gorilla skull, and more. Along with each fossil, there is a map of the location where the fossil was found, and a short paragraph of information about the specimen.

African lion skull.

The British Museum

british museum
A variety of artifacts are available for download through this repository.

The British Museum has a Sketchfab collection of some its historical artifacts, including a bust of Zeus, head of Amenemhat III, and other statues, tools, and engravings. You’ll also find a sarcophagus and scarab beetle that Egyptology students will love.

A scarab from the British Museum.
A scarab from the British Museum.

Cooper Hewitt Mansion

The Copper Hewitt mansion, former home of Andrew Carnegie completed in 1902, is currently home to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.  One this site, you’ll find a printable model of the mansion, and detailed digital files of each floor. This building was one of the first to feature a passenger elevator and central heating system.

The Cooper
The Cooper Hewitt Mansion


On Embodie3D, you’ll find designs for biology, medical sciences, paleontology, and veterinary sciences. Some of our favorite designs include a cross-sectional human heart model, T-Rex Skull, and models of healthy lungs versus lungs with COPD.

Human heart model.


LibraryLyna is a great site that was created to be a repository for 3D design files to use with students who are blind, but many of the designs on the site are also helpful for students without visual impairments. Some of our favorites in this library of math, biology and chemistry models include atom models of each element, vertebrae, and a Pythagorean Theorem learning aid.

Oxygen atom.
Oxygen atom.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is another museum that has digitized part of its collection and put it online for ‘fun, for sharing, and to inspire creativity.’ Among its furniture and statues are a bust of Marie-Amélie, Queen of the French; head of a Bodhisattva; and a neck-amphora (Grecian vase).

Terracotta neck amphora.
Terracotta neck-amphora.


NASA has a very cool design library with models of satellites, asteroids, topography of landings sites and craters, and more. We love the models of the Apollo 11 landing site, Curiosity rover, and the Hubble telescope. They even have satellite models of some recent, historic hurricanes, including Katrina and Sandy.

The Hubble Telescope
The Hubble Telescope with the Cooper Hewitt Mansion and a scarab.

NIH 3D Print Exchange

On this site, you’ll find many detailed and complex anatomical models, molecular and cellular models, and custom lab supplies. Many of these models are most relevant to teaching and research at the University level, but prosthetic models from e-NABLE volunteers, and chemical models like serotonin and dopamine are more appropriate for younger learners.

Smithsonian X 3D

The Smithsonian has scanned some of its most prominent acquisitions and put these models of artifacts, art, historical objects and biological specimens online. Not everything on this site has a downloadable 3D file, but you can print a dolphin mandible, a Bell X-1 rocket plane, Amelia Earhart’s flight suit, or Abraham Lincoln life mask.

amelia earhart
Amelia Earhart’s suit.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, so let us know what other sites you recommend in the comments below!

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