One of the more popular uses for a CNC machine is the carving of free 3D relief files. The details that quality CNC and router bits can bring out are unique.
Carving 3D relief files is relatively easy. However, designing and creating 3D reliefs yourself takes some time and practice to learn. That's why many home hobbyist CNC owners look for free 3D files to get started.
This way, they can learn how to create tool paths, generate g-code, and operate the machine correctly for the best results.
There is plenty of free relief models on the internet. Like most everything, though, websites use free ones to attract visitors so that they can also see better quality paid-for models. So most sites offer a mixture of free and paid CNC 3D models.
When you're not creating something yourself, check the license terms for your downloading files. Most 3D relief models that are free to download are for private use only. You cannot create products with them to sell commercially. There are exceptions to this; check first.
Once you learn more about modeling yourself, you'll find a need to combine different 3D models into a scene. Check the license to see how you can use the designs in your projects. Unfortunately, many sites forbid any digital download of their 3d models by anyone else.
I work with the Vectric Aspire CAD/CAM software for CNC machines. I mostly download the STL and OBJ file types when looking for 3D relief models. Make sure you know which type to download for your software.
Are Free 3D Relief & DXF Files Really Free?
I've spent most of my career working as a corporate software developer. Very few people, if any, will develop quality software and give it away. But, if they do, typically, they stop growing it over time for one reason or another, and it starts becoming stale.
The current state of free 3D relief model sites reminds me of this. Unfortunately, many of the sites look stale.
Some websites use free CNC design files for lead generation purposes. I don't see a problem with that. Some of the files they offer are very good.
There are some quality 3D model sites, but you must pay. CNCClipArt.com by Carveco and DesignAndMake.com by Vectric are two better-known sites for 3D STL files explicitly designed for CNC machines. However, Carveco and Vectric sell competing CAD/CAM software products for CNC machines.
It's easy to see the connection - They give you free download files when you buy their software, and their revenue stream continues as customers buy more 3D models.
There are benefits to the consumer with this direction in the CNC 3D model market:
TurboSquid offers a variety of free 3D relief models on their site for download in various formats. Most designs are not free, however. As of this writing, seven designs are $300 or more. Forty-six designs are $200 top $300. 86 plans are $100 to $200. Three thousand three hundred fifty-seven designs are $1 to $100. Forty-five plans are free to download.
Cults is a popular website for people with 3D printers to find models to download. They have a large selection of 3D models. They also have a selection of relief models for CNC carving. Some are free, but many require payment. Prices look reasonable.
CGTrader is another with primarily 3D content for AR/VR, gaming, advertising, entertainment, and 3D printing. They also have an excellent selection of relief models for 3D carving. There is a mixture of free 3D relief models that are paid to select from.
Free3D has many 3D models for free. However, with relief models for 3D carving, I could not find any free ones. Many of the prices are reasonable. If you can turn a 3D model into relief using your CAD software, there are plenty of models on this site to choose from.
Yeggi is another famous site for downloading 3D models with a 3D printer. They boast of having almost four million models for download. A quick search of CNC Relief models results in more than two thousand models. I could not find many of them to be free.
CNC Clipart is a site with 3D clipart explicitly designed for CNC projects. Carveco owns the site, a popular CAD/CAM software maker to use with CNC machining. CNC Clipart uses a subscription model for payment. Depending on your recurring monthly subscription, you get some credits each month. The relief models themselves are priced in credits.
However, they have a few of their high-quality models free to download each month. So you will need to create an account and check back each month.
STLFinder is a search engine for free 3D models. The link I've provided searches for "free 3D relief". The results returned are more than fifty-two thousand pages. I checked a few exciting models, and they take you back to the website where the 3D model was found to download. Once there, I discovered that there was indeed a cost to download.
Ameede.net has an excellent selection of free 3D relief models for download. I selected a few, and after waiting for the download to prepare, it did allow for a free download. The download speed can vary greatly. At one point, it said 8 minutes for an 11.4 MB to download. It then finished within a minute.
While searching the Dezin site for free relief models, the page at the first link returns various door trims that can be downloaded. I then checked out the second link and found free downloads of different door designs. All the designs appear free but are also door designs, albeit some fairly attractive ones.
StyleCNC is a manufacturer of industrial CNC machines. They offer a limited number of 3D router files for beginners. It's worth checking out.
Etsy is another popular option for downloading 3D relief models. While not free, many of them are very affordable. Most of the sellers are also very responsive.
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There are quite a few STL relief models you can download for free on this site. The link takes you to their 3D STL Reliefs Animals page. The categories menu on the right shows STL relief downloads for Construction, Decorations, Emblems, Flowers, Panels, people, and more. They do ask for attribution, but not required for the download. The files are downloaded in a RAR compressed file. Some of the models with years are dated, so keep a watch for this.
Sketchfab is the leading platform for 3D & AR on the web. They have a massive selection of quality 3D models. A quick search for Bas Relief Free yielded some results, but not many.
STLbase is another STL Search Engine site. I left off the word Free from my search engine query link as the results were only two files. Like STLFinder, this site takes you to the source site for the actual download files.
DeskProto is a 3D CAM program. It can import 2D vector files (DXF, EPS, AI, SVG), 3D geometry files (STL), and bitmap image files. It then calculates CNC tool paths and writes out the NC program files for any brand of CNC machine.
They don't have a lot of 3D model files for download, but they're free, and they're excellent. 3D models are a Picture Frame, Coat-Of-Arms relief, a Cellphone front, and a ring.
DXF patterns include a beer tray and a stool.
You can find many free 3D relief models on this site. Of course, not all of them are free, but a combined total of over thirteen thousand relief models were found. Their prices look very reasonable.
You can find a large selection of STL files on this site. Many have a cost, but as of this writing, seventy-four of them are free. They are excellent designs.
There are not a lot of bas-relief sculptures on this site, but they look high-quality. A couple of them at the bottom of the page are free.
There are no free 3D relief files, but they look good quality and have a wide variety. The prices also look very affordable.
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You will find many pages of free 3D door designs on this site. They are downloadable in STL file format. There is also a page with several different bed headboard designs.
There are a lot of excellent STL designs on this site. You will find Animals, Bed Headboards, Doors, Frames, Borders, and many more. All of them are listed as free on their site. They ask to contact them using the WhatsApp app to get access.
MyMiniFactory is a popular website with a large selection of high-quality 3D models. Some are free, but many are Premium. The link provided here brings you to a small but excellent selection of free 3D relief files for CNC.
This site has a good selection of free STL models for download. To get a download link you must enter your name, email, and telephone number.
Pinshape is another famous site for high-quality 3D STL files. They have a large selection of files. This link takes you to their Bas Relief models, which they have a small amount of. A couple of them are free, and the rest are affordable.
This site's primary business is designing CNC Vectors, Reliefs, or 3D Models from a picture.
They have a small selection of free 3D relief files to download. There are also some free vector files and LEGO vector files.
CNC Vector Art offers six different CNC Relief Models in STL format for free download at this linked website page. The rest of their site has STL models available at modest costs.
Thingiverse is a popular site for all kinds of maker projects. This link will take you to their Bas Relief models, which you can freely download. There are only four pages of Bas Relief models, while the site boasts more than two million 3D models. It's worth spending some time on this site for inspiration.
This site has a small selection of free 3D relief files. However, there are many more you can pay for at an affordable cost.
Fraiser bits is the number one supplier of router bits for wood in Europe. While not free, they offer a small but excellent collection of low-relief carving files you can download at an affordable cost.
Thangs is a search engine site that looks at different 3D download sites for your search request. It found some excellent relief models on popular sites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory. It simplifies your research if you are looking for a specific model style.
I could not download any free 3D relief files on this site. But they have an excellent selection of paid content at a very reasonable cost especially since the price includes a collection of STL files in the download.
Design and Make is owned by Vectric software and offers a large quality selection of 3D Clipart, models, and Vector drawings.
The models come in three formats - V3M, STL, and RLF. The projects come in 3 formats - V3M, STL, and PNG. V3M models are specially designed to work with Vectric's Aspire, VCarve Pro V8+, and VCarve Desktop. Also, Design and Make Machinist (our free 3D carving software).
Hacks of the Week have been a massive hit, with customers giving them inspiration for their next project. In addition, special pricing is often offered on multiple models included in the weekly hack.
You can download some of these collections for free if you purchase one of the Vectric software products. Otherwise, almost everything on their Design and Make website has a price.
ArtStation is a community that was shaped to empower artists and create opportunities for success. It's the place for artists to connect and showcase their work with others.
There are some fantastic Bas-Relief designs on this site. You have to dig around a bit, though. As an example, search for Dang Briarena. I found him initially, as he has some quality free downloads available. He has some images which show his process of converting images to 3D STL files for CNC routers. It's an excellent collection of CNC artwork.
It appears to be up to the artist to purchase items on Artstation. Some art offers a direct purchase link. Others have embedded links to an external site. Many others require you to contact them directly; I assume to do custom work.
3DWave is a reasonably new site offering a wide variety of 3D STL files. None of them are free, but they are of excellent quality. I've purchased some myself and can confirm this, even though the prices are a little high. However, I keep coming back to buy more. I noticed this in the footer: "You can sell the physical items you carve/engrave/make." Please confirm this yourself. This may explain the slightly higher pricing.
You can find some excellent Bit Tray Storage plans on their site. They also have a small number of 3D Carving file downloads. They're not all free, but they are inexpensive. SpeTool is a manufacturer of CNC Router bits.