What is a THING file & how do I open a THING file (MakerBot Thing File)?

.THING (MakerBot Thing File) - File Extension

Developer: MakerBot Industries

What is a THING File?

A THING file is a specific 3D model file extension used primarily by MakerBot Desktop, an application that allows users to send 3D models to 3D printers. Unlike standalone 3D model files like .STL (Stereolithography) or .OBJ (Object), THING files serve a unique purpose.

They are essentially containers that store multiple .STL files arranged to be printed together. Additionally, THING files include an XML manifest that provides information about the contained 3D models, such as their positions and orientations within the printing space.

Think of THING files as digital blueprints that guide 3D printers in creating complex multi-part objects.

How to Open a THING File

Opening a THING file requires specialized software, and MakerBot Desktop is the primary application for this purpose. Follow these steps to open a THING file:

  1. Install MakerBot Desktop: If you don’t have MakerBot Desktop installed on your computer, you’ll need to download and install it from the official MakerBot website.
  2. Launch MakerBot Desktop: After installation, open the MakerBot Desktop application.
  3. Import THING File: In MakerBot Desktop, go to the “File” menu and select “Open THING File.” Browse to the location of your THING file and select it.
  4. Preview and Edit: Once opened, you can preview the 3D models contained within the THING file and make any necessary adjustments to their positioning or orientation before sending them to your 3D printer.

How to Convert a THING File

Converting THING files to other formats or vice versa can be a bit tricky, as THING files serve a specific purpose in 3D printing.

But it’s possible to convert the individual .STL files contained within a THING file to other 3D model formats using various 3D modeling software, such as Blender or Tinkercad. Here’s a basic process to convert THING files:

  1. Extract the .STL Files: Open the THING file using MakerBot Desktop and export the individual .STL files from the THING project. You can typically do this by right-clicking on each part and selecting the export option.
  2. Use 3D Modeling Software: Import the extracted .STL files into your preferred 3D modeling software.
  3. Convert to Desired Format: Within the 3D modeling software, you can usually export the model in various formats like .OBJ, .FBX, or .DAE, depending on your requirements.

Keep in mind that converting THING files in this manner may require you to reassemble the parts manually in the destination software.

Security Considerations: Are “.THING” Files Safe?

THING files themselves are not inherently dangerous or vulnerable to security threats. They are essentially data containers designed for 3D printing purposes.

That being said, it’s crucial to be cautious when downloading THING files from untrusted sources, just as you would with any other file type.

Malicious actors could potentially hide harmful content within THING files, so it’s essential to obtain them from reputable sources and exercise caution when sharing or opening files from unknown origins.

Format Details for THING Files

THING files consist of two main components: the 3D model files in .STL format and an XML manifest. The .STL files contain the actual 3D geometry of the individual parts, while the XML manifest provides metadata and instructions for the 3D printer.

The manifest specifies details such as the position and orientation of each part within the print bed, print settings, and other relevant information.

This structured approach makes it easier for 3D printers to accurately produce multi-part objects from THING files.

Uses and Applications of THING Files

THING files are primarily used in the field of 3D printing, where they simplify the process of printing complex multi-part objects. Some common applications of THING files include:

  • Prototyping: Engineers and designers use THING files to create prototypes of multi-part products and test their functionality before mass production.
  • Customization: THING files enable customization by allowing users to arrange and combine different 3D models to create unique objects.
  • Education: THING files are valuable in educational settings, where they facilitate hands-on learning about 3D printing technology.

Associated Software Programs

As mentioned earlier, MakerBot Desktop is the primary software program associated with THING files. It provides a user-friendly interface for creating, editing, and printing 3D models stored in the THING file format.

While MakerBot Desktop is a popular choice, other 3D printing software may also offer support for THING files, but compatibility may vary.

Advantages and Disadvantages of THING Files

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of using THING files:


  • Simplified Printing: THING files streamline the 3D printing process by providing clear instructions for multi-part prints.
  • Customization: Users can easily arrange and customize 3D models within a THING file, allowing for greater design flexibility.


  • Specialized Format: THING files are not widely supported by 3D modeling software, limiting their versatility.
  • Assembly Required: When converting THING files to other formats, users may need to manually reassemble the parts, which can be time-consuming.


Comparing THING files to other 3D model file formats, such as .STL or .OBJ, highlights the unique purpose of THING files.

While .STL and .OBJ files contain single 3D models, THING files are designed to store multiple parts in a structured manner.

THING files are ideal for complex multi-part objects and simplify the printing process, whereas standalone 3D model files offer more versatility but require additional handling when printing complex assemblies.

Troubleshooting THING Files

Encountering issues with THING files? Here are some common problems and their solutions:

  1. Cannot Open THING File: Ensure that you have MakerBot Desktop installed and that the THING file is not corrupted. If the issue persists, try opening a different THING file to determine if it’s a specific file problem.
  2. Misaligned Parts: If the 3D parts within the THING file are not correctly aligned, use MakerBot Desktop to adjust their positions before printing.
  3. Conversion Errors: When converting THING files to other formats, be prepared for potential manual assembly work in the destination software. Ensure that you have the necessary modeling skills to complete the process.

History of the THING File Extension

The THING file extension is closely tied to MakerBot, a company founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith.

MakerBot revolutionized the world of 3D printing by offering affordable and accessible desktop 3D printers. The THING file format was introduced to simplify the 3D printing process for MakerBot users, allowing them to create complex multi-part objects with ease.

Over the years, MakerBot has continued to innovate, expanding its product lineup and enhancing its software, including MakerBot Desktop.

Tips and Tricks for THING Files

Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of THING files:

  • Organize Your Parts: When working with THING files containing multiple 3D models, keep your parts organized within the project to avoid confusion during printing.
  • Experiment with Customization: Take advantage of the customization capabilities of THING files to create unique designs and prototypes.
  • Check for Updates: Stay updated with the latest versions of MakerBot Desktop to access new features and improvements related to THING file management.

THING Files and Multi-Part Printing

One of the primary strengths of THING files is their ability to simplify multi-part 3D printing. When you have a project that involves several components that need to be assembled after printing, THING files shine.

They allow you to arrange these parts in a virtual 3D space, ensuring they fit together correctly when printed.

This feature is particularly useful for creating functional prototypes, mechanical parts, or intricate designs that require precise alignment.

Collaboration and Sharing

THING files also facilitate collaboration in 3D printing projects. You can easily share your THING files with others, and they can import them into MakerBot Desktop to view, modify, or print the same design.

This collaborative aspect is valuable in educational settings where students and teachers can exchange THING files to explore and create together.

Compatibility and Portability

While THING files are primarily associated with MakerBot Desktop, they are not entirely isolated. MakerBot provides options for exporting THING files to other formats, such as .OBJ or .STL, making it possible to work with these files in different 3D modeling or printing software.

This feature ensures that your 3D designs can be shared and utilized across a broader range of tools and platforms, enhancing their portability.

Evolving Standards

As 3D printing technology advances, standards and formats may evolve. While THING files serve their purpose well, it’s essential to stay informed about any updates or changes in the 3D printing industry.

Manufacturers like MakerBot often adapt their software to accommodate new features and improvements, which may impact how THING files are used in the future.

Community and Resources

If you’re interested in diving deeper into THING files and the world of 3D printing, you can join online communities and forums dedicated to 3D printing enthusiasts and professionals.

These platforms offer valuable insights, troubleshooting tips, and a space to share your experiences with THING files and related technologies.


In conclusion, THING files are specialized 3D model file extensions designed to simplify the 3D printing process for complex multi-part objects.

They offer unique advantages in terms of ease of use and customization, making them valuable tools in the world of 3D printing. While THING files may not be as versatile as other 3D model formats, their structured approach and clear instructions make them indispensable for specific applications.

As 3D printing technology continues to evolve, THING files remain a valuable asset for designers, engineers, and hobbyists looking to bring their ideas to life in three dimensions.

Software Compatible With The THING File Type
MakerBot Thing File

In this section you will find a list of the best programs compatible with the THING file type. We've selected the best software for Windows, Mac, Android and Linux to open, edit, convert and view the contents of THING files.