3D Printed Trains & Model Railways: Best STLs To Download & Print

Scott Hamill

Guides, Printables

3D Printed Locomotive FEATURE

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Few modes of transport are quite as enchanting as trains. Watching the countryside go by while enjoying a coffee and listening to some nice music makes any commute feel like a dream, so it’s not surprising that many creators like to capture this magic in their homes by 3D printing trains and railways.

Model railways have been one of the most meditative and rewarding hobbies for many railfans (yes, that is the term) for well over a century now. First mass-produced in Germany in the late 19th century, model railways took off majorly in the US in the 50s, and have remained one of the most popular hobbies ever since.

N-Scale Model Train

3D printed trains and model railways have added new dimensions and creative takes on the old classic, seeing many iterations from enthusiasts across the internet.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the most fun and creative 3D printed model train and railway files for people of all skill levels. So if you’re already a train enthusiast, or simply want to get into model railways with 3D printing to see if you like it, there’s no better place to start than right here.

Model Train Scales

There are several different sizes and size types for 3D printed trains. Various models will only fit in well with certain scales, and the scale you’ll want to go for will depend entirely on the scope of your ideal railway model.

Since I will be discussing 3D printed trains and model railway additions in terms of scale, here’s a brief overview of the main sizes you’ll be working with, listed from smallest to largest.

Z Scale Trains

  • Ratio: 1:220
Z-Scale Model Train

Z scale trains are the smallest size of model train available, each train being roughly the size of an adult’s finger or smaller. They’re not often commercially available and are usually only used as floor model examples of larger sets.

3D printed Z scale trains are ideal if you want a small project to work with. Just be prepared to break out the tweezers and a magnifying glass if you want maximum detailing.

N Scale Trains

  • Ratio: 1:160

N scale trains are one of the most popular sizes of model railway sets, ideal for people who want something smaller and more intricate than the average train set but not quite as finicky to work with as Z scales.

HO Scale Trains

  • Ratio: 1:87
HO-Scale Model Train

HO trains are the most common size of model railway and railway sets. If you’ve got a set pictured in your head, the kind you’d find in a workshop or shed, then it’s likely scaled to HO even in your imagination.

If you’re looking for model railways to make yourself, you’ll find that 3D printed HO scale trains are by far the most commonplace. So if you want a wide variety of 3D printed train models and buildings to tinker with without having to do any resizing yourself, I highly recommend going for, or at least starting out with, this scale.

S Scale Trains

  • Ratio:  Variable (average max size of 1:64)

S scale trains vary in size and generally refer to anything larger than HO (above) but smaller than O (below). Because of this variety, you won’t find any one-size-fits-all 3D printed S scale trains or train sets. Unlike many other scales, it refers to a range of sizes rather than a specific one.

O Scale Trains

  • Ratio: 1:48
O-Scale Model Train

O scale was one of the original model train sizes and has been used since the late 1800s in toy sets and models. This size remains popular today because they’re not so large that they take up too much space, and not so small that they present an immediate choking hazard if used as toys.

3D printed O scale trains are perfect if you have a larger workspace than most and are looking to make big, extravagantly decorated 3D printed railway models and adornments.

G Scale Trains

  • Ratio: Variable (generally 1:12 – 1:32)
G-Scale Model Train

Like S scale, G scale trains refer to anything larger than O scale. These train replicas range from cars roughly the size of your forearm to the kind of ridable trains you’d find in zoos and amusement parks.

Despite this, you can still 3D print a G scale trains, train tracks, and model railways decorations and accessories, but likely only on the smaller end of the variable range.

3D Printed Trains

Now that we’ve seen the various scales these 3D printed model trains and railways use, let’s take a look at some cool examples that you can print out and assemble yourself today.

Train Bridge

While we will be looking at a range of scales across these models, remember you can always tweak and resize the files in your preferred software. So even if you find something you like but it’s to the wrong size ratio, you can always change it if you’re confident enough in your file editing skills.

Steam Locomotive

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: ny_rebel
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: Unspecified/Variable
3D Printed Locomotive

3D printed locomotives are a fantastic way to add a classic look to any model railway. As the steam era remains a fascination for many people even today, this locomotive is a timeless model with rodded wheels that, if assembled carefully, will move and look just like the real thing.

Be advised that getting this 3D printed locomotive to work on a model track will take a little tweaking, as it’s designed primarily as a toy train. But if you love the look and are up to the task, this is an attractive number to have on any railway set.

For a more ready-to-use model, I recommend checking out this motorized 3D printed locomotive instead. It’s just as cool and is ready to be wired up and moving in no time.

Christmas Tree Train Ring

  • Where to Download: Printables
  • Designer: Aspengt
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: Z
Christmas Train

Not all 3D printed trains are designed for model railways. The creativity and imagination that building such models inspires lends itself well to more decorative purposes.

My favorite example of using trains as decorations is this train loop designed to adorn a Christmas tree. As a Z scale 3D printed train, the smallest commercially available model train size, it’s a perfect yet subtle addition to your holiday décor.

It’s designed to include a motor and even incorporates LEDs to help the train light up the tree in an animated way as it circulates. It’s a wholesome and creative way to enjoy the holidays that’s ideal for any lover of both trains and Christmas.

Mobius Action Cam Flatcar

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: ksaathoff
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: N
3D Printed Train Model Camera

In this age of social media and widely available internet platforms, it’s common for enthusiasts of all kinds of things to show off their creations online with pride. And this 3D train model is the perfect way to do that.

This 3D printed N scale train flatcar is, as the name suggests, designed to hold a Mobius Action Cam. If carefully set up, it will give a train-eye-view of your model railway, showing the entirety of the route as though the viewer themselves are the train or even the conductor.

Not only does this help you display your 3D printed railway model for all to see, but it also lets you find out what it would be like to explore your own miniature world by train. It’s a satisfying feeling that adds to how rewarding model railway building already is.

3D Printed Train Tracks

A train without a track is, as the old saying goes, a Q without a U. That is to say that, while they’re not exactly useless, they won’t live up to their full potential.

3D printed train tracks are simple prints that won’t take much time or skill at their most simple. Though just be sure you’re printing a track that matches the scale of your 3D printed train or you’ll find yourself with too many Us and nowhere to put them.

3D Printed Railway 2

If you do happen to print the wrong size accidentally, I recommend minimizing wastage by using the unusable tracks as further decoration for your 3D printed railway model, either by including a scrapyard or repair station where unused tracks and parts would generally be found.

Another great way to avoid wasting time and filament is to plan your track well in advance and only print the parts you need. Though keeping some spares is a good idea for later repairs and expansions is a good idea too.

3D Printable Railway System

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: Depronized
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: High G (1:45)
3D Printed Railway Models

The fully printable railway system is a set of 3D printed train tracks that come in a few different forms for maximum creativity. These include straight tracks, curved tracks, joined tracks, and even a ramp for elevation.

While not an exhaustive selection, these free files are an excellent starting point for anyone looking to 3D print a model railway system and want to have as much freedom and wriggle room going forward from the basics.

Be advised that these 3D printed train tracks are big even for G scale, putting them on the larger end of the size range. So you may need to alter these tracks to make them suitable for most model trains.

Criss-Cross Train Tracks

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: malamaker
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: O
Crossing Railway

A more complex tool not often offered in a standard modern railway set is the crisscross track. Used as a junction to allow two different railway lines to overlap, they’re efficient designs that make the most use of smaller spaces, allowing for trains to switch directions easily at specific places.

Such junctions are an impressive piece to have in your own model railway set, even more so if you print them yourself.

They were designed to be compatible specifically with Lionel brand model train sets, meaning they’re at the O scale. That’s good news for many reasons, the main one being that O, along with HO, are amongst the most common model railway scales. So these tracks work perfectly not only with 3D printed model railway sets, but act as expansions for many store-bought sets too.

Bonus: 3D Printed Train Track Additions

Adding variety and character is important to keep model railways interesting and fun. Because of this, you can find a wide variety of little additions based on real-world train junctions and platforms to spice up your set with neat little touches.

3D Printed Railway Crossing

Examples of these additions include this train bridge and this adorable railroad crossing to make your model look more alive and active, and even pave the way for some extra additions like roads or even a river.

3D Printed Model Railway Buildings

One of the best and most imaginative parts of being a model train fan is decorating the scenery that your 3D printed trains will pass through on whatever routes you’ve set them on.

Station 3

Foliage and terrain are fun to decorate, but the human touch is nice too. So here we’ll look at a few of my favorite 3D printed model railway buildings to give your set character and make it feel less like a static space and more like an active, living world.

3D Printed Train Station

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: swilker
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: G
Station 2

Where else could I possibly begin a list of 3D printed model railway buildings other than a train station? Of all the ones I found, this is by far my favorite. Its small and quaint style harkens back to a bygone day, and the fake muddy footprints in the example image add to the look of a real countryside train station.

The roof is removable, paving the way for full interior design which can be done however you like to suit your tastes or desired aesthetics. However you want your model station to look, there’s a lot of potential in this little print.

Railway Depot

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: farkas00
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: N
3D Printed Train Depot

This 3D printed railway depot is a perfect addition to any set. It’s an easy print made even easier if you print the roof separately and attach it later, which reduces the need for bridging and the failure risks that come with it.

As a blank canvas, this 3D printed model railway building can be altered and decorated however you like. I personally love the look of a rustic old-style depot, complete with overgrowth and just the right amount of rust. But that’s just me.

Signal Box

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: JanSkoda
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: 1:120 (very small)
Signal Shed

Signal boxes may be tiny, but they serve a very important purpose. Acting as guides for trains, they are imperative to safe transport by actively telling conductors when it is or isn’t safe to proceed.

While tiny and unassuming, even in real life, I’d argue that no model railway is complete without a signal box, and highly recommend giving this cute little one a try.

The scale on this signal box is smaller than most other models, being closer to a Z than a G, so you may need to scale it up so it doesn’t look too small and proportionately jarring against the rest of your railway set.

3D Printed Model Railway Parts

Whether for repair or enhancement, keeping some 3D printed model railway parts handy is a good way to avoid future frustration.

While there are far too many individual 3D printed model railway parts to cover them all here, we’ll look at just a few examples of the kinds of things that are good to have around or at least bookmark for future use.

Thomas 2

I recommend printing these parts in advance and keeping them safe. That way you can handle any repairs immediately and get your 3D printed train back up and running in no time.

G Scale Train Wheel

  • Where to Download: CGTrader
  • Designer: aselixe-gamer
  • Price: $5.60
  • Scale: G

Since model railways are designed to incorporate moving trains, they are prone to wear and tear.

Printable train wheels are important for building and repairing your 3D printed train models. This wheel is designed for use on average G scale trains as standard, but can be scaled to suit various models.

The wheel in this example is 45mm, and includes the files for a joining axel for repairing a 3D printed G scale train or even just touching it up if it’s moving a little sluggishly.

Coupler Replacement

  • Where to Download: Printables
  • Designer: Václav Přibík
  • Price: Free
  • Scale: N/A
3D Printed Train Parts

Coupler hooks are important for connecting trains so they move together efficiently. One of the main problems with using 3D printed parts alongside store-bought models is that 3D printed train parts will often be more lightweight and fragile than professionally made pieces.

These can lead to a few unfortunate breakages, especially something that requires constant force to move like the coupler hook.

This replacement is a very useful 3D printed train part that’s ideal to print in bulk and keep handy in case yours ever break from too much pressure. While designed for TOMY trains, they can easily be fit onto any model train for quick and easy repair.

Bonus: Thomas and Friends 3D Models

  • Where to Download: Thingiverse
  • Designer: v2oracle_9297
  • Price: Free
3D Printed Thomas and Friends

No matter when you grew up, chances are you were exposed to Thomas the Tank Engine one way or another. Whether you, like me, recall Ringo Star’s narration of the adorable series, or if you’re lucky enough to be of the age where the CGI Thomas and Friends is your nostalgia trip, you’ll easily recognize the titular engine and many of his close pals.

While you’ll have no trouble finding 3D printed models of Thomas the Tank Engine and all the colorful characters he meets, the link above shows just how adorable tiny versions of these trains can be. With a careful paint job and a little patience, they’ll be an awesome addition to any toy chest or even model railway set.

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