A new report focuses on open source hardware, a sector that has a significant 3D printing presence.
Created by Harris Kenny and Steven Abadie, the recently-launched independent OSHdata project seeks to provide a source of information for the growing global open source hardware (OSH) community. The pair have more than a decade of experience in the OSH world — including executive roles at the famously open source LulzBot.
State of Open Hardware
The report — open source itself, of course, and so free of charge — notes its aims:
“OSHdata findings show that the Open Source Hardware (OSH) community is dynamic, growing, and still in its early days as a formal movement. There are over 400 certified projects from 36 countries spanning five continents. The certification rate is increasing, too. Getting from 200 to 300 certified projects took nearly a year, but getting from 300 to 400 took a little over six months. Nearly 60% of the certified projects are available for sale at an average sale price of $211.47, though there is a big range here. The leading project categories include: electronics, 3D printing, tools, and education. Our research also finds opportunities for improvement in the certification program itself, particularly the application process and practices by creators.”
3D printing is, clearly, a key area in the OSH world, and only continues to grow with more manufacturers working on open source projects. Companies like LulzBot, Creality, IC3D, and others have built on foundations digging back to early roots in RepRap.
OSHdata Co-Founder Harris Kenny has shared some thoughts on the place of 3D printing in the OSH world. He tells us:
“Today, one in four certified projects are 3D printing-related, ranging from printable medical devices to industrial-grade machinery. And this is just a portion of the overall open source activity in the 3D printing industry when you consider software, file formats, and industry standards. Industry leaders have a lot to gain from understanding the open source community.”
The Open Source Community
So what exactly are we seeing in the community?
Kenny shared a list of some of the diverse companies in 3D printing with open source participation. A small sample of these include:
Ultimachine (US-based, Archim board)
Creality (China-based, Ender 3 and CR-10 Printers)
IC3D (US-based, ABS PLA and PETG)
Creatable Labs (South Korea-based, Creatable D3 Printer)
Hydra Research (US-based Nautilus 3D printer)
LulzBot (US-based, many products including all their 3D printers, major accessories, etc.)
He points out as well that the last of these, LulzBot, is noted as the fourth most active creator of all time, as seen here:
That ranking is impressive, as overall the study considers a base of 169 creators credited with over 400 OSH-certified products and projects. However, 129 of those creators have only one certification to their credit.
Some of the 3D printing-related projects have flown a little more under the radar than have well-known entities such as LulzBot. Kenny shared over a few of the interesting 3D printing OSH-certified projects from around the world. Consider, for instance:
Open Source Turtle Robot (USA)
Frog by Pako Bots (USA)
Diskio Pi (France)
And many designs (dozens) by Field Ready, like an umbilical cord clamp
The entire report is an interesting look at a part of the industry — and of course well beyond 3D printing — that sometimes can be a bit glossed over. Those supporting the open source ethos tend to be quite passionate about the benefits of such community structuring and availability.
OSHdata notes that the report is of particular interest to those who have certified a product, are considering certifying, are an OSH customer, or for researchers, press, suppliers, and resellers.
Whatever your interest, the report and all the work from OSHdata seeks to uncover answers to some thought-provoking questions in open source, such as:
What is the annual revenue, profitability, and economic impact of OSH companies?
How many employees are employed at companies participating in the certification program?
Which industries are adopting Open Source Hardware the fastest?