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Product Development for Everyone


The German and the French national research foundations DFG and ANR co-finance a joint project to support open source product development. The total funding amounts to approximately 780,000 euros.

Nowadays, everybody can, on a smaller scale, produce like large manufacturers. Not only do fab labs, 3D printers and similar innovations make these home-based productions possible; but the vast array of digital product models available for free on the internet also accelerates the trend.

As a spin-off of the open source philosophy, the movement connects do-it-yourselfers, startups and established companies alike as they create product models and share them online.

“The movement, however, is lacking online tools and methods that help to organize the informal structures in open source product development,” explains Dr. Jérémy Bonvoisin, the originator of the project.

“A platform which coordinates the contributions of non-contractually engaged volunteers is needed; otherwise the creation of product models will be limited to the knowledge and skills of individual players.” As a consequence, the huge potential of open source design would largely remain unused and models would just cover the production of simple items, often of low quality.

The Franco-German joint project “OPEN!” searches for workarounds. Researchers from the chairs of Industrial Information Technology and Quality Science at TU Berlin are planning to develop an open design platform which aims at combining and organizing the knowledge and skills of contributors involved in open source design projects.

In the upcoming three years, the research team — a multidisciplinary consortium involving six public research institutes and companies — will work on the scientific characterization of the open source design paradigm. Already available methods for collaborative product design in industry will be adapted as well as extended for the open source context and ultimately implemented in an online platform prototype.

According to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Stark, head of the project and of the chair of Industrial Information Technology, “OPEN!” intends to promote individuals reclaiming the production process: design by the people, for the people. “We expect helping the open source design movement to follow the same trend open source software followed some decades ago: at the beginning a matter of some passionate individuals and today a billion dollar business.”

The project is also about how a business model for knowledge dissemination can result in a long-term stimulation and professionalization of the movement while guaranteeing free and straightforward access to product-related information for all.

Project partners:
Université de Grenoble (Institutes G-SCOP and CERAG), Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (Berlin), Raidlight SAS, OpenIT Agency, P2PLab and Open Source Ecology.

For further information please contact:
Dr. Jérémy Bonvoisin
Institute of Machine Tools and Factory Management
Chair of Industrial Information Technology
Technische Universität Berlin
+49 (0)30 39006 358

Stefanie Terp | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
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