The Social Engineering-Knowledge Database

By on March 2nd, 2010 in Ideas, Software


Bryan Bishop provides a great overview of the Social Engineering-Knowledge Database (SKDB) project in an article at HPlus Magazine. The premise of the project is to create a standard environment for the development of complex 3D models by leveraging models and instructions that already exist. This is very similar to the open source software industry, in which the installation of a desired component automatically pulls in all dependent pieces, whether you know you need them or not. The hierarchical SKDB approach, if successfully executed, could supercharge the 3D model space and we’d begin to see very complex object assemblies appear.

You might be wondering why the project’s name includes the word “social”. That’s because SKDB is inspired by the success of open source software – which works only because participants abide by a social contract as a condition of their use of the software. The same principle could apply to 3D model assemblies:

the Social Engineering-Knowledge Database (SKDB) project that provides the means for specifying dependencies and applying standards that can be shared by open source DIY makers. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you begin a new project. Someone may have already done most or all of the work for whatever you are trying to do, and then released the plans on the internet. And there are many common tools and parts involved in making things. The SKDB project directly tackles the challenge of packaging and distributing these plans.

It’s not just about the model itself, either. Consider the instructions that might accompany an assembly of parts to create a larger object, or perhaps there are customized rigs required for the build that are not part of the final object. Once you consider all the procedures, equipment and supplies for a project, you can understand why this could and should be simplified:

Why not use hardware packages to make a lab or to make tools for an experiment? Instead of painfully picking through websites like,, or hardcopy magazines, package managers do the gritty work — generate the instructions or order parts over the web — and the user is freed to make stuff, rather than chasing down dependencies. Slowly but surely, computer algorithms are taking over these tasks.

If you want to get involved in the SKDB project, we’d recommend you head straight over to their Google Group, which currently has around 350 members.

We believe SKDB or something like it is a key requirement to take personal manufacturing to the next level. Yes, we can build things now. But can we build things together?

Via HPlus Magazine (Hat tip to Bryan)

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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