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Open design

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Title: Open design  
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Open design

RepRap general-purpose 3D printer that not only could be used to make structures and functional components for open-design projects but is an open-source project itself.
Uzebox is an open-design video game console.[1]
Zoybar open source guitar kit With 3-D printed body[4]

Open design is the development of physical products, machines and systems through use of publicly shared design information. Open design involves the making of both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware. The process is generally facilitated by the Internet and often performed without monetary compensation. The goals and philosophy are identical to that of the open-source movement, but are implemented for the development of physical products rather than software.[5] Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company.


  • History 1
    • Sources of the open-design movement 1.1
  • Current directions of the open-design movement 2
  • Open machine design as compared to open-source software 3
  • Open-design organizations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Sources of the open-design movement

Sharing of manufacturing information can be traced back to the 18th and 19th century.[6][7] Aggressive patenting put an end to that period of extensive knowledge sharing.[8] More recently, principles of open design have been related to the free software and open source movements.[9] In 1997 Eric S. Raymond, Tim O'Reilly and Larry Augustin established "open source" as an alternative expression to "free software," and in 1997 Bruce Perens published the Open Source Definition. In late 1998, Dr. Sepehr Kiani (a PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT) realized that designers could benefit from open source policies, and in early 1999 he convinced Dr. Ryan Vallance and Dr. Samir Nayfeh of the potential benefits of open design in machine design applications.[10] Together they established the Open Design Foundation (ODF) as a non-profit corporation, and set out to develop an Open Design Definition.[10]

The idea of open design was taken up, either simultaneously or subsequently, by several other groups and individuals. The principles of open design are closely similar to those of open-source hardware design, which emerged in March 1998 when Reinoud Lamberts of the Delft University of Technology proposed on his “Open Design Circuits” website the creation of a hardware design community in the spirit of free software.[11]

Ronen Kadushin coined the title "Open Design" in his 2004 Master’s thesis, and the term was later formalized in the 2010 Open Design Manifesto.[12]

Current directions of the open-design movement

Open Source Ecology, open source farming and industrial machinery

The open-design movement currently unites two trends. On one hand, people apply their skills and time on projects for the common good, perhaps where funding or commercial interest is lacking, for developing countries or to help spread ecological or cheaper technologies. On the other hand, open design may provide a framework for developing advanced projects and technologies that might be beyond the resource of any single company or country and involve people who, without the copyleft mechanism, might not collaborate otherwise. There is now also a third trend, where these two methods come together to use high-tech open-source (e.g. 3D printing) but customized local solutions for sustainable development.[13]

Open machine design as compared to open-source software

The open-design movement is currently fairly nascent but holds great potential for the future. In some respects design and engineering are even more suited to open collaborative development than the increasingly common open-source software projects, because with 3D models and photographs the concept can often be understood visually. It is not even necessary that the project members speak the same languages to usefully collaborate.

However, there are certain barriers to overcome for open design when compared to software development where there are mature and widely used tools available and the duplication and distribution of code cost next to nothing. Creating, testing and modifying physical designs is not quite so straightforward because of the effort, time and cost required to create the physical artefact; although with access to emerging flexible computer-controlled manufacturing techniques the complexity and effort of construction can be significantly reduced (see tools mentioned in the fab lab article).

Open-design organizations

VIA OpenBook reference design CAD visualisation

Open design is currently a fledgling movement consisting of several unrelated or loosely related initiatives.[14] Many of these organizations are single, funded projects, while a few organizations are focusing on an area needing development. In some cases (e.g.

  • Episodes of Collective Invention (Peter B. Meyer, August 2003) An article on several historical examples of what could be called "open design."
  • The Political Economy of Open Source Software (Steven Weber, June 2000) An article outlining the development of Linux Operating System from a political-science perspective. The conclusion suggests that the open-source development model is suited to disciplines besides software development.
  • worldchanging archives (Alex Steffen, November 2006) An interview with Lawrence Lessig on the use of the Developing Nations License by Architecture for Humanity to create a global open design network.
  • Open Design Team Communication @ ICED '09
  • The Emergence of Open Design and Open Manufacturing Michel Bauwens, We Magazine Volume 2
  • designbreak - open science, engineering and design non-profit, with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration to address issues of health and poverty.
  • In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits Chris Anderson, Wired February 2010
  • Open Design Now (June 2011)
  • CIS.doc # 04. Open Design (February 2011)
  • Open Hardware and Design Alliance (OHANDA)

External links

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  6. ^ Nuvolari, Alessandro 2004. Collective Invention during the British Industrial Revolution: The Case of the Cornish Pumping Engine. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 28, nr. 3: 347–363.
  7. ^ Allen, Robert C. 1983. Collective Invention. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 4, no. 1: 1–24.
  8. ^ Bessen, James E. and Nuvolari, Alessandro, Knowledge Sharing Among Inventors: Some Historical Perspectives (2012, forthcoming). In: Dietmar Harhoff and Karim Lakhani eds., Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities and Open Innovation. Cambridge: MIT Press. Pre-Print: Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-51; LEM Working Paper 2011/21. Available at
  9. ^ Vallance, Kiani and Nayfeh, Open Design of Manufacturing Equipment, CIRP 1st Int. Conference on Agile, 2001
  10. ^ a b R. Ryan Vallance, Bazaar Design of Nano and Micro Manufacturing Equipment, 2000
  11. ^
  12. ^ Alexander Vittouris, Mark Richardson. "Designing for Velomobile Diversity: Alternative opportunities for sustainable personal mobility". 2012.
  13. ^ J. M Pearce, C. Morris Blair, K. J. Laciak, R. Andrews, A. Nosrat and I. Zelenika-Zovko, “3-D Printing of Open Source Appropriate Technologies for Self-Directed Sustainable Development”, Journal of Sustainable Development 3(4), pp. 17-29 (2010). [1]
  14. ^ Thomas J. Howard, Sofiane Achiche, Ali Özkil and Tim C. McAloone, Open Design And Crowdsourcing: Maturity, Methodology And Business Models, International Design Conference - Design 2012, Dubrovnik - Croatia, May 21–24, access
  15. ^ Pearce J., Albritton S., Grant G., Steed G., & Zelenika I. 2012. A new model for enabling innovation in appropriate technology for sustainable development. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 8(2) Published online Aug 20, 2012. open access
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See also

Notable organizations include: [15]

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