27 07, 2012

Updated and realistic market data on personal 3D printers

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:42+00:00 Juli 27th, 2012|Cases-Industrial, Design, Fabbing, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

3D printing or additivae manufactuing is a hot topic today. Recently, I found this absurdly expensive market study on 3D printing (never had the idea that you can charge $100 per figure). But since many year, my best source about this topic has been Terry Wohlers.

TerrywohlersTerry is president of Wohlers Associates, Inc., an independent consulting firm he founded more than 25 years ago. Through this company, Wohlers has provided consulting assistance to more than 170 organizations in 23 countries. Also, he has provided lots of advise to the investment community. And on top, he really is a great guy!

On his blog, Wohlers Talk, he regularly posts interesting news from and views on how the industry evolves, put into perspective by matching it with his years of professional experience.

Recently he published some interesting thoughts on 3D-printers. As can be seen from the latest Wolters Report on the state-of-the-art and development of additive manufacturing and 3d-printing, sales figures of said 3d-printers have been dramatically increasing over the past years.

The report states that especially personal 3D-printers sales have grown by 289% in 2011. Yet, this is said to account for not more than about 26 million USD so far, making this market appear to hold a lot of potential.

However, in his post, Terry describes the market potential for presonal 3D-printers in a rather disillusionating yet more realistic fashion:

Wohlers Talk: Why Most Adults Will Never Use a 3D Printer

Many have speculated on whether everyday consumers will purchase and use a 3D printer. With prices dipping to $350 for a kit and $550 for an assembled system, they are certainly affordable. Some believe that a 3D printer will someday be in every home and used to produce replacement parts as household products break or wear out.

As shown by Shapeways, Materialise, FutureFactories, Ponoko, and others, consumers are definitely interested in products made by additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Shapeways claims to be producing more than 90,000 parts (about 25,000 products) per month by AM, with a high percentage going to consumers. For years, Materialise’s .MGX division has offered striking lighting designs, sculptures, and other products, with consumers paying hundreds of euros for one of them.

Indeed, consumers have an appetite for products made by additive manufacturing. However, most consumers will never own or operate a machine to produce these products. Instead, they will go to Shapeways, Amazon, or to another service or storefront to purchase these products. Most will not know, or even care, how the products were made—no different from the way they now purchase products. Consumers only care about receiving good value.

Someday, a company will offer a very low-cost, easy-to-use, and safe 3D printer targeted at children. This market opportunity, I believe, is very big because children like to imagine, create, touch things, play, and entertain themselves. These kids will be producing vehicles, action figures, puzzles, and just about everything imaginable. They are our future designers, engineers, and manufacturing professionals.

Most parents and adults are not candidates for a 3D printer. They do not want to mess with the data, manufacturing process, clean-up, and finishing of parts and products. Even if they owned or had access to a machine, it would probably not be capable of producing parts in the right material with the mechanical properties, color, surface finish, and texture needed for the part(s) they are trying to create or replace. These types of parts will continue to be produced by industry professionals and that’s why most adults will never use a 3D printer.

Source: Wohlers Talk, http://wohlersassociates.com/blog/2012/07/why-most-adults-will-never-use-a-3d-printer/ (July 26th 2012)


23 07, 2012

Market Watch: Formulor: Professional-grade yet easy and affordable 3D-designing and production

By | 2018-06-14T06:54:53+00:00 Juli 23rd, 2012|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

Copyright Formulor, www.formulor.de, all rights reserved!If you co-host a large-scale mass customization conference as we did with the Create Your Own (CYO) last year, it is delighting to learn that connections established during the event are resulting in new ventures and products. 

One result of CYO networking has been the cooperation between virtual product presentation specialist Open Experience and Formulor, a Berlin based company offering customized 3D-products. Formulor is one of the German frontend's for Ponoko.


Copyright Fomulor, www.formulor.de, all rights reserved!

The limit is your imagination (and what a laser cutter can do). Example model. Click to enlarge!

Formulor gives its users all the tools necesary to design whatever shape and form they like and to have it laser cut and engraved before shipping it to your doorstep. The really great part of this is the consumer frontend which is about as easy to use as a "conventional" configurator and yet can do so much more.


It enables casual users and professional designers alike to quickly bring any form out of their mind onto a virtual canvas. One can do so by either uploading an existing file (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, inkscape) or by using the really convenient drawing and writing tools embedded into the configurator. 

Open Experience, a spin-off of the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie KIT and a specialist in 3D configuration,  has done a great job in designing the front end. Even without any knowledge of how to use a 2D-designing software you can easily get a nice-looking 3D object drawn and rendered in no time at all. 

Most of the work, the magic to it, if you will, happens in the background. While you draw and write on the virtual canvas the software translatest your entries into a 3D model which is presented at all times. You will always know how your design will look in "real life" once laser-cut and delivered to you. 

Copyright Formulor, www.formulor.de, all rights reserved!

2D drawing canvas, ready for creative input. Click to Enlarge!

Furthermore the configurator automatically checks whether or not your design is actually technically producable, so you do not have to worry about that aspect at all: As long as it can be manufactured by Formulor's partner company Ponoko's laser cutters, you can design whatever you like.

And because Formulor checks your brainchild against Ponoko's personal factory API, pricing of your design is also constantly updated. 

 The base materials you chose from at the beginning of your configuration process include acrylic glass, cardboard, cork, corrugate card, decoflex veneer, felt, finnboard, leather, MDF, PET, paperboard, plywood, polypropylen, silicon and stamp rubber in a large variety of colors and thicknesses

This platform can really be of great value for all kinds of creatives, be it to visualize an idea, to prototype, to get special parts for your architectural model or just as part of your latest crafting of christmas gifts.

Besides this practical aspect it is a great example of how (conference) networking can help you identifying the right partner to get your business ahead of the competition. Formulor, Open Experience and Ponoko have created a very interesting tool for individual and affordable modeling here that could set standards in this branch.

More about Open Experience, Formulor and Ponoko on their respective websites. And to get an idea of how easy it is to use Formulor's frontend to form your own product, here is a video, too!


25 10, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights: MC Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management

By | 2018-06-14T07:16:09+00:00 Oktober 25th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Design, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing, Virtual Models|

MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

Successful Mass Customization not only depends on the design and proper employment of the consumer backend (configurator). Of equal importance is the organizational structure "behind the scenes" that allows a company to actually keep the promiss of individual production while still remaining profitable. In this session we will hear expert advices about the key aspects of successful MC Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.


Sessions 7.4 (Nov 19): MC Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management

Modeling & Simulation of MP-MC Apparel Manufacturing

Apparel companies that initiate Mass-Customization (MC) must identify a suitable manufacturing (assembly) strategy, which is vital for their success. Most companies that produce apparel using Mass Production (MP) systems, are interested in investigating if the existing systems can be used to implement a MC strategy.

In this part Muditha Senanayake (Cal Poly Pomona) and Trevor Little (North Carolina State University) will explore the opportunity to mix MP and MC using computer modeling and simulation. Based on varying sizes of bundles and varying frequencies of products tested on simulated production lines they will present their observations of the production system performance. As a result they will present possible implementations of mix manufacturing strategy and its limitations.

Using a Simulation-Based Framework to Design Supply Chain Offering Mass Customization in the UAE

Mass Customization has emerged as a successful business model that can address the contemporary challenges of global markets. Although companies have adopted various levels of MC, a major challenge for firms is to efficiently design their supply chain in function of their MC offers, which also needs to support the involvement of customers in the innovation process. Marc Poulin will present a work in progress of a simulation framework that enables UAE firms to design supply chains that offer MC products and services. Using the leading edge simulation software SIMIO he will model and simulate supply chain models in the UAE.

Methodology for Implementing the Right Supply Chain for Mass Customization

In this presentation Luigi Battezzati (University of Milan) will focus on the definition of preliminary implementation guidelines in order to define the proper supply chain for different products (emotional, functional), manufactured by different companies (mass or handcraft producer), in compliance with different winning criteria impacting on critical areas for Mass Customization

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

23 10, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlight: Design Thinking for Open Innovation an Mass Customization (Showcase Symposium)

By | 2018-06-14T07:16:11+00:00 Oktober 23rd, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-Design Process, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, User Manufacturing|

MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

In this showcase session is  the participants will be provided with the latest results of scientific research on how mass customization and open innovation is evaluated by professional designers as well as on how aesthetic preferences are varying within different cultures. On top of that well known design agencies such as IDEO and designaffairs will present their approaches of how to integrate customers into their design processes.

Session 6.6 (Nov 19): Design Thinking for OI and MC (Showcase Symposium)

In this special showcase session will consist of five individual presentations by Dominik Walcher and fellow experts. Following that the presenting Open Innovation and Mass Customization specialists will engage in a panel discussion on MC, OI and Design.

Schowcase Speakers:

Dominik Walcher, (Salzburg University of Applied Sciences):
What designers think about Mass Customization and Open Innovation – A recent survey

Bernhard Rothbucher, (Salzburg University of Applied Sciences):
Cultural Customization – A case study research on natural acceptance

Minu Kumar, (San Francisco State University):
Think global, act local – A cross cultural study on aesthetic preferences

Christian Jurke, Director Design Strategy at designaffairs, Munich:
SimuPro – a method to create customer oriented solutions for global markets

Blaise Bertrand
, Associate Partner at IDEO:
Design Thinking – IDEO's method to integrate customers in the design process

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011

– Conference Website and Registration

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

10 10, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights: Rapid Innovation and Manufacturing in an International Production Enviroment

By | 2018-06-14T07:16:45+00:00 Oktober 10th, 2011|Co-creation, Customization Trends, Events, Guest Articles, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|


MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

In a world of global markets and constant technical innovation one has to live up to the challenge of not only surviving on the individual markets but to out-innovate any competition at the highest pace possible. It goes without saying that for producing companies, production speed is a key competency. In sessions 6.3 & 7.3 we will take a look at expert techniques to accomplish this tough yet vital mission. 

Sessions 6.3 & 7.3 (Nov 19): Rapid Innovation and Manufacturing in an International Production Enviroment

Rapid Response Manufacturing in RIO South Texas Region

Opening Session 6.3, Miguel Gonzalez, Jianzhi Li and Douglas Timmer (University of Texas-Pan American) will speak about their experiences with rapid response manufacturing techniques in their home region of South Texas.

Experiences in Disburse Engineering Design Education Targeted on Rapid Innovation & Manufacturing

In this part Jianzhi Li, John Lloyd, Miguel Gonzalez, Douglas Timmer (University of Texas-Pan American) will share some of their experiences on the topic of disburse engineering design education with a special focus on its application in rapid innovation and manufacturing.

Information Technology Suitability Index for Mass Customization

In their presentation, Douglas Timmer and Miguel Gonzalez ( University of Texas-Pan American) will discuss the suitability of information technology in regards of mass customization.

Case Studies of Rapid Response Manufacturing in an International Production System

As a response to intensified competition, changing customer needs and greatly shortened product life cycles, ALPS as a global parts supplier to major automakers has been implementing rapid response manufacturing and mass customization technologies in order to capture and satisfy customer requirements in a timely and efficient manner.

In their presentation, Edi Sanjoto (ALPS Automotive) and Miguel Gonzalez (University of Texas-Pan American) will introduce best practices and strategies which allowed ALPS to connect with customers effectively and to quickly identify product variations. Furthermore they will compare different configurations of manufacturing lines with mass customization in mind, based on which they will give their recommendations for rapid response manufacturing strategies.

Reconfigurable Strategies to Hammer Open Innovation Concepts into the Mass Customized Automobile Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry in general and the automotive industry in particular is distinguished by rapid globalization, high mass customization, regionalization, value chain restructuring and reduced product as well as innovation life cycles. This in turn has compelled the automotive manufacturers to open up their innovation process to better address the customer needs readily by exploiting efficient outsourcing strategies.

Sarfraz Minhas, Ulrich Berger and Christiane Hipp (Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus) will discuss the need for reconfigurable approaches in planning as well as in control to address mass- customization-induced complexities under the umbrella of open innovation. A reconfigurable production control will be proposed in the body-in-white production, encompassing the configuration of specific setups to enable co-development in a distributed production environment, exploiting ICT technologies to produce mass customized products.

Innovations in Mechatronic Products and Mass Customization

Mass Customization has been recognized as a successful strategy in the design and development of products tailored to customer needs. Global competition demands new products with added functionalities, as in the case of mechatronic products.  These products are becoming more and more important as a product type and new inventions have resulted in drastic changes in design and development of mechatronic products, both standalone and enhancing conventional mechanical systems.

In this part, Tufail Habib, Kaj Jörgensen and Kjeld Nielsen (Aalborg University) will present the particular structure and properties of mechatronic products compared to conventional mechanical systems.Following that they will give an overview of typical changes regarding functionalities from mechanical products towards mechatronic products.

Utilising Mass Customisation Methods for Modular ManufacturingSystem Design

In order to operate under and take advantage of the specific dynamics of today's markets, manufacturing processes have to be robust to product changes – a contradiction to traditional manufacturing systems developed as dedicated engineer-to-order solutions, tailored to production of a specific product or a limited product assortment. In response, modular manufacturing concepts are evolving, designed with the needed responsiveness in mind, being the manufacturing paradigm of Mass Customisation.

Research focus has been on the basic principles and enabling technologies, while modular architectures and system design have received less attention. A potential to fill these gaps by applying selected design theories and methods of MC has been identified. Based on a communality analysis between these theories/methods and the modular manufacturing approach, Steffen Joergensen, Alexia Jacobsen, Kjeld Nielsen, Ole Madsen and Kaj Jörgensen (Aalborg University) will discuss and evaluate the potentials and show possible obstacles of application.

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

3 09, 2011

Executive Seminare an der RWTH Aachen zu Open Innovation und Social Media Strategy

By | 2018-06-14T09:43:37+00:00 September 3rd, 2011|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Deutsch (in German), Events, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

German_flgI'am glad to be able two more seminars as part of the open executive education program of RWTH Aachen University. The seminar language, however, is GERMAN — hence, the following posting is in German language, too.

Zusammen mit der RWTH International Academy haben wir unser Seminarangebot für Führungskräfte an der RWTH Aachen stark ausgebaut. Ich darf Sie zu zwei Seminaren einladen, die unter meiner Leitung im 4. Quartal 2011 in Aachen stattfinden:

Rwth_socialmedia_logo Social Media Strategy (13-14. Okt.): Zusammen mit meinem Kollegen Prof. Detlef Schoder, Leiter der Wirtschaftsinformatik an der Uni Köln und ein führender Forscher (und zugleich erfolgreicher Unternehmer) im Bereich Social Media bieten wir eine strategische Einführung in das Themenfeld Social Media. Dabei geht es weniger um operative Aspekte der Umsetzung als vielmehr um strategische Fragen und eine Orientierung in diesem Themenfeld für das Management. Einen besonderen Schwerpunkt wird hier auch die Innovation spielen  –  Stichwort "Social Product Development". Mehr information zum Seminar hier.

Rwth_openinnovation_logo Open Innovation umsetzen (20.-21. Okt.): Open Innovation ist dem Status des Buzzwords entwachsen, und viele Unternehmen haben intensive Pilotierungen abgeschlossen. Doch wie wird Open Innovation in das Innovationsmanagement integriert, welche Anforderungen gibt es an die Organisation? Wie messen Sie die "Open Innovation Readiness" Ihres Unternehmens? Darüber hinaus gibt der Kurs aber auch eine intensive Einführung in die verschiedenen Methoden von Open Innovation und Co-Creation.Mehr Inforation zu diesem Seminar hier.

Übrigens: Beide Kurse bieten wir auch im Rahmen von "Customized Education" auf Ihre Bedürfnisse zugeschnitten als Inhouse-Seminar an.  Weitere Informationen dazu gerne!

Ich würde mich freuen, Sie bei einer der Veranstaltungen in Aachen begrüßen zu dürfen!

28 07, 2011

Quirky in Numbers: Entrepreneur Magazine shares new data on Quirky’s social product development business model

By | 2018-06-14T09:43:56+00:00 Juli 28th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Long Tail, MC Alternatives, User Manufacturing|

Entrepreneur-magazine-august-2011_lrg In the August issue of Entrepreneur, Jennifer Wang has a great story on Quirky, featuring the person of founder Ben Kaufman (everyone attending the MIT SCG Seminar in 2010 still remembers his presentation), but also sharing some great info on the company.

Read the full article here, but here are some of the facts I found most interesting:

Old world: If you have an idea and want to turn it into a product "Kaufman puts the upfront costs of building a company around a single product at about $200,000–just to get the paperwork done and the first prototype out." Combined with the risk, most people never get their product idea anywhere near retail shelves.

Quirky's approach:

Create an online community of 65,000 members (growing by 20 percent every month).

Have "every week hundreds of inventor hopefuls, or "ideators," submit their concepts online".

So called "influencers" than vote on the ideas and develop them further, together with Quirky's inhouse design team.

Requirement: Product ideas must retail for less than $150 and should not require integrated software.

Examples of products in the making and development: "an auto-stirring microwavable bowl with steam-release function; a modular tent-making kit for use with couch cushions and throw quilts; a yoga mat with magnetic or Velcro closures."

30% payoff: "Thirty cents of every revenue dollar goes back to ideators, and a number of them have already earned tens of thousands of dollars."

Typical income of inventors:

Michael McCoy, inventor of Cloak, a two-in-one iPad stand and case, that retails for $29.99. This item generated total sales of $100,128, and Michael got a share of $38,007 for this.

Jake Zien, inventor of the Pivot Power, an adjustable power strip with six outlets, that retails for $29.99. This item generated total sales: $13,021, and Jake got a share of $4,919.

Quirky's take: "The company retains the rights to all the cool ideas that are voted into the development process, and because the company gets validation from thousands of potential customers before making a move, Kaufman avoids all the costs associated with early design phases." => our idea of collective customer commitment at its best!

2011 revenue: Expected "to be between $6 million and $10 million"

Financing: Quirky has raised $12.6 million in funding.

Staff: Today 40, planned are about 80 by the end of this year.

Media: Ben is a master in self promotion and announcing his company, and so the Sundance Channel's will have a reality TV show featuring Kaufman, Quirky employees, the inventors and their stories, premiering in August.

Ben's core learning in running an online community:

"Face-time is important, transparency is important!" There's a whole department dedicated to "inventor services," and the company regularly holds virtual town hall meetings with the whole staff, inviting community members to log on and ask anyone on the team questions."

 For me, Quirky still is one of the best ideas of co-creation. Here is my earlier more extended analysis of their business model.


12 02, 2011

User innovation and co-creation are taking over the world — recent articles in The New York Times and The Economist

By | 2018-06-14T09:44:41+00:00 Februar 12th, 2011|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Fabbing, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

User innovation in the press In the last few days, two of the leading global media outlets, The New York Times and The Economist, had quite extensive articles on user innovation, customization, and co-creation.

On February 10, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition of The New York Times, Patricia Cohen writes about "Innovation Far Removed From the Lab",

The article is a great praise and acknowledgment of the work done by Eric von Hippel: Here are some quotes from the article I liked most:


[…] Since the Austrian economist Joseph A. Schumpeter published “The Theory of Economic Development” in 1934, economists and governments have assumed that the industrial and business sectors are where ideas for products originate. A complex net of laws and policies, from intellectual property rights to producer subsidies and tax benefits, have flowed from this basic assumption.

However, pathbreaking research by a group of scholars including Eric A. von Hippel, a professor of technological innovation at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, suggests that the traditional division of labor between innovators and customers is breaking down.  […]

Financed by the British government, Mr. von Hippel and his colleagues last year completed the first representative large-scale survey of consumer innovation ever conducted.

What the team discovered … was that the amount of money individual consumers spent making and improving products was more than twice as large as the amount spent by all British firms combined on product research and development over a three-year period.

[…]  Carliss Y. Baldwin, a business administration professor at the Harvard Business School, called the research remarkable, adding: “What makes Eric’s work so significant is that it is unprecedented to try to measure the extent of user innovation. He shows that we’ve had on a set of mental blinders.”

This is the UK study the NYT is referring to is: Von Hippel, Eric A., De Jong, Jeroen and Flowers, Steven, Comparing Business and Household Sector Innovation in Consumer Products: Findings from a Representative Study in the UK (September 27, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1683503

The Economist takes on another aspect that somehow is complementing user innovation: Fabbing and the rise of additive manufacturing technologies for the average consumer.

In the Technology section of the Feb 10th 2011 print edition, the article "Print me a Stradivarius: How a new manufacturing technology will change the world" reviews the recent developments of aditive manufactuing and what this means for the world of manufacturing. Nothing less than a revolution, the Economist suggests.

Again some quotes from the article:

"[…] By reducing the barriers to entry for manufacturing, 3D printing should also promote innovation. If you can design a shape on a computer, you can turn it into an object. You can print a dozen, see if there is a market for them, and print 50 more if there is, modifying the design using feedback from early users. This will be a boon to inventors and start-ups, because trying out new products will become less risky and expensive. And just as open-source programmers collaborate by sharing software code, engineers are already starting to collaborate on open-source designs for objects and hardware.

A technological change so profound will reset the economics of manufacturing. Some believe it will decentralise the business completely, reversing the urbanisation that accompanies industrialisation. There will be no need for factories, goes the logic, when every village has a fabricator that can produce items when needed. Up to a point, perhaps. But the economic and social benefits of cities go far beyond their ability to attract workers to man assembly lines. […]

Just as nobody could have predicted the impact of the steam engine in 1750—or the printing press in 1450, or the transistor in 1950—it is impossible to foresee the long-term impact of 3D printing. But the technology is coming, and it is likely to disrupt every field it touches. Companies, regulators and entrepreneurs should start thinking about it now. One thing, at least, seems clear: although 3D printing will create winners and losers in the short term, in the long run it will expand the realm of industry—and imagination."

Both articles also show why the new "Open Source Hardware" definition is so important: It will become the intellectual underpinning of user innovators using the new fabbing technologies to produce — and distribute — the next wave of innovation collaboratively.

11 02, 2011

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Definition v1.0 Released: What it is and how it will change innovation

By | 2018-06-14T09:44:44+00:00 Februar 11th, 2011|Design, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

Open hardware logo proposal by Mateo Zlatar Open Source Hardware finally has an official definition. Today, the "Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Statement of Principles and Definition v1.0" has been published.

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is a term for tangible artifacts — machines, devices, or other physical things — whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things. The basic motivation of OSHW is to give people "the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs." (Note the explicit relation to "commerce", as this is as much to act as an economic principle as it is one of knowledge management and enabling innovation).

Last year, I participated at the "Open Hardware Summit" in New York city, a large gathering of people interested in bringing the open source software idea to hardware products.The participants of the Summit were a very interesting and eclectic crowd, starting a really great debate on the opportunities, but also the challenges of OSHW (obviously, the opportunities won).

As a core result of the debate started at the summit, today finally the official version of the "Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Statement of Principles and Definition v1.0" has been published. This publication can be seen as profound and game-changing as the original "Open Source Definition," created by Bruce Perens and the Debian developers as the "Debian Free Software Guidelines" in 1997.

Exmples of OSHW In the first official open hardware definition, OSHW is defined as

"hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware's source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it.

Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware."

The definition then states 12 criteria that characterize OSHW, among them the following:

1. Documentation: hardware must be released with documentation including design files, and must allow modification and distribution of the design files.

3. Necessary Software: If the design requires software then the license may require that this software may not constrain the open design of the hardware.

4. Derived Works: The license shall allow modifications and derived works, and shall allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original work.

5. Free redistribution: The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the project documentation, but also shall not demand a fee for this.

8. No Discrimination against Fields of Endeavor ("… For example, it must not restrict the hardware from being used in a business, or from being used in nuclear research.").

12. License Must Be Technology-Neutral.

I believe that the publishing of this definition could have an equally, of even wider, impact as the OSS movement. While not all hardware will be open, working on a license that allows hardware products to be designed, produced, and reproduced under these rules may start a new manufacturing movement that may change the way how products are designed and distributed (if only engineering students would have good and up-to-date mandatory classes in law and IP – as this is not the case it are the economists and management professors like me that care about the things while the average engineering student is being educated in a traditional way of IP and patents).

OSHW is exactly one of the interfaces between customization and open innovation that we want to discuss in larger detail during the MCPC 2011 conference in San Francisco in Nov 2011.


24 11, 2010

The Ponoko-Google Challenge: Show the World How Easy It Is to Manufacture What You Like

By | 2018-06-14T09:45:15+00:00 November 24th, 2010|Fabbing, Long Tail, Open/User Innovation, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

Googponoko2 If have written several times about Ponoko here, a platform where designers, users, and manufacturers meet and enable to production of cool items in a very democratic way. It allows you to turn the stuff you dream up into physical objects that you can hold in your hands.  "User manufactuing" at its best!

Ponoko now has teamed up with Google in a user contest to get people educated about the opportunities available for anyone to design things and turn them into real products — without the help of any "large" company! With Ponoko's new "Personal Factory 4", the process got even easier.

The Google-Ponoko challenge is to produce a piece of instructional content that’s equal parts enlightening and entertaining. Each entry must be titled “How to use Google SketchUp for Ponoko 3D printing,” but aside from that, the format is pretty open. Text, images and video (or some combination of the three) are all fair game.

The competition deadline is four weeks from now; all entries are due December 17, 2010. Visit the official announcement page for all the details, and have fun making the world a more interesting place to be.

5 02, 2010

Ponoko opens manufacturing network hub in Germany. First step to original „mini factory“ network idea

By | 2018-06-14T11:07:51+00:00 Februar 5th, 2010|Co-creation, Design, Fabbing, User Manufacturing|

Products by users produced via the Ponoko manufactruing network A few days ago, Derek Elley from Ponoko gave me the good news that Ponoko has finally signed up a network partner in Europe.

I wrote about Ponoko several times. It is an online marketplace for everyone to make real things. Just like eBay provides the marketplace for buyers and sellers to engage, Ponoko provides the marketplace for buyers and sellers of product designs and digital making services. More than 40,000 user-generated designs have been instantly priced online, made and delivered since Ponoko launched in late 2007. It is a perfect illustration of the "user manufacturing" economy that Chirs Anderson features in the recent WIRED title story.

A core idea of Ponoko is that they want to connect a network of independent "mini factories" where the digital creations of users are turned in the moment. For a long time, this vision only worked with the two making hubs owned by Ponoko in in San Francisco, California and Wellington, New Zealand. But now, the first independent network hub has opened — and I am please to notice that it is in Germany.

Here, Ponoko now has partnered with fabber Formulor to open a making hub in Berlin. It means EU-based creators using the Ponoko online making system can now choose to have their products made in Berlin – paying just a fraction of the shipping costs which has made ordering products from Ponoko’s US and Pacific-based making hubs prohibitive.

The development also opens up the European market for creators around the world. Items can now be produced in the EU and shipped locally.

“It provides a glimpse into what we see as the future of Ponoko,” Ponoko CEO David ten Have  is quoted in a press announcement, “Over time we see our role expanding to be about connecting creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers of goods rather than simply providing manufacturing services ourselves. So just like eBay provides the marketplace for buyers and sellers to engage, Ponoko provides the world’s first marketplace for buyers and sellers of product designs – and now digital making services.”

Ponoko is working with other digital making service providers to add more making hubs around the world.

The big question, however, is: Is this development particularly relevant given HP is now selling 3D printers and you can have your own manufacturing hub in your home?

Yes, I will argue.

  • Shipping costs between the US and EU are reduced from $60 to $9 for for smaller goods — so before you buy your own 3D printer, you can first try it out and get experience.
  • US creators (like ESTY and Adobe users) can ship their products to EU customers at 85% less cost, and with less environmental impact.
  • And the quality of home 3D printing and cutting may still be inferior to producing your stuff at a professional outlet.

But this is a very interesting question for research, one for which I hopefully will find time to think about more in the next months: When will you produce at home, when use a mini factory hub like Ponoko, and when just buy a standard product from your local superstore.

20 09, 2009

Distributed user manufacturing network started: Ponoko and ShopBot announce partnership to provide users access to over 6,000 digital fabricators around the world

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:01+00:00 September 20th, 2009|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Design, Fabbing, MC Alternatives, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|


During the 2007 US Presidential debates, journalist Tom Brokaw asked candidates Obama and McCain whether our challenges would be best solved by … "funding a Manhattan-style project or by supporting 100,000 garages across America to encourage the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley?"

A new website takes the second approach! Inspired by Tom Brokaw's question to the presidential candidates, 100Kgarages is a community of workshops all over the world that are run by "Fabbers", with digital fabrication tools for precisely cutting, machining, drilling, or sculpting the components of any user  project.

The site has been launched on Sept. 16 by Ponoko and ShopBot, expanding the opportunities for ordinary users to get almost anything custom made and delivered from local state-of-the-art digital makers.

I have written several times about Ponoko in my blog, an online marketplace for everyone to make real things. It brings together creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers. Since its launch in 2007, more than 30,000 user-generated designs "have been instantly priced online" (the official wording in the press release, I believe this means "uploaded and finished", but not ordered and delivered).

ShopBot is a manufacturer of affordable, high-performance CNC tools for digital fabrication of wood, plastic and aluminum products. With more than 6,000 ShopBots in thousands of shops in the US and 54 countries around the world, ShopBot is one of the largest producers of CNC routers in North America.

With the cooperation of the both companies and the launch of the 100kGarages website, anyone can get their ideas made locally with the click of a mouse, and delivered within just a few days.

Users can go to the site to get things custom made by searching a map for a local garage workshop, or submitting a request and choosing from bids placed by a range of ShopBot owners to make almost anything. It’s free for everyone to search and submit requests, and for fabricators to post profiles and bids.

People are creating a wide range of products like tables, chairs, cabinets, car parts, signage, boats, musical instruments, gaskets, sheds, housing and all of those impossible to find things made from wood, plastic, metal and composite materials.

“Our partnership means everyone now has easy access to their own local 3D fabricator. This is the first step to providing a solution for the doers and makers out there who want to join in re-building America, one garage at a time.”, says ShopBot’s President Ted Hall in the press release.

In the moment, the site still looks a bit beta, but it is a great starting point and another sign of the coming age of user manufacturing.

28 04, 2009

(Updated) Will New Coca-Cola Vending Machine Allow Ultimate Customization at the Point-of-Sale?

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:39+00:00 April 28th, 2009|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Technologies & Enablers, User Manufacturing|

The new Logo for the Coke Customization Project Update: Coca Cola just contacted me and revealed the brand name for this venture: Coca Cola Freestyle(TM), see press release below!

Finally a concept could become reality that Joe Pine has described more than 16 years ago (as a future dream scenario) in his book "Mass Customization": The ultimate soda fountain that offers unlimited choice, as Owen Morris in a newspaper article and Tim Stevens in Engadget.com report. (Note: I could not get more information about this concept. But if you know more, please drop me a line as I am very interested in these kind of localized customization devices).

 Currently, your typical soda fountain in a fast-food joint features perhaps eight to ten standard choices, usually offering nothing more exotic than "peach flavored ice tea." These machines work through syrup bags. The restaurant buys a bag from Coke or Pepsi, hooks it up to a soda (water) line and then the fountain combines the carbonated water with the syrup to create your soda. The machines are limited by soda lines, which tend to gunk up with sugar mold, and by bulky soda bags that weigh 30 pounds or more.

The new Coke machine is completely different. Coca-Cola has announced a new soda fountain that can hold more than 100 sodas. That's ten times more than current soda fountains.

The new fountain is like an ink printer with space for hundreds of cartridges. Each cartridge contains a concentrated formula of ingredients. When you press your choice, say Diet Coke, the machine will tell cartridge 12 to release three squirts, cartridge 81 two squirts and so on, then it combines it with carbonated water and you get the same drink as old machines.

But: The new fountains can hold a lot moThe new Coke vending machines in a rendering ... will this dream ever become true?re of these little cartridges, so they can handle a lot more flavors. Coca-Cola promises 120 different drinks, but there could be even more as the technology gets better and the company gets more confident. You think these are way to many choices for a standard drink like sodas? Think again; Already today, Coca-Cola is listing more than 2,800 beverages on their website! And I personally would love to have a German "Apfelschorle" with still water and a 20:80 mix of juice to water … something even waiters have a problem to bring in a restaurant.

The first new fountains are rolling out in Atlanta and California in this spring. Assuming tests there go well and the public loves its overwhelming choices, the new fountains would come to other US cities next year.

But there may be a downside: How will Coke protects its customers from the paradox of choice, when too many options overwhelm our brains and shuts them down from making a decision. Just think of the lines as "the thirsty yet indecisive ponder 15 different flavors of Diet Coke?" (Tim Stevens).

Update: Press release from The Coca Cola Company on April 28, 2009:

New Proprietary Fountain Dispenser Gets a Brand Name

ATLANTA, Apr. 28, 2009 – The next generation fountain beverage dispenser has a “stylish” new name.

North America today revealed that “Coca-Cola Freestyle TM” is the brand name and logo for its new proprietary fountain dispenser entering market testing this summer.  The fountain’s brand name captures its ability to deliver unprecedented beverage variety to suit any consumer taste – all packaged in an innovative and interactive fountain experience. 

“Coca-Cola Freestyle brings to life the refreshingly positive outlook that has always been associated with Coca-Cola,” said Chandra Stephens-Albright, Group Director of Marketing and Business Development for the brand. 

“It brings back the magic of the fountain of the past, re-imagines it for the future and then takes it a step farther by celebrating the idea that consumers can truly have their say at fountain – with choices tailored completely for them.”

The new self-serve fountains – which represent a complete departure from equipment The Coca-Cola Company has offered before – have been in development for nearly four years.  The sleek new units being tested are touch screen operated, enabling consumers to select from more than 100 calorie and no-calorie brands – including varieties of waters, juices, teas and sparkling beverages that have never been sold in the United States.

The Coca-Cola Freestyle dispenser uses proprietary PurePour Technology™ to make dozens of branded beverages fresh to order, in the same amount of space as the current eight-valve machine.  It will be tested in select quick-serve restaurants in Orange County, Calif., and Atlanta this summer before a wider introduction currently planned for early next year.

14 04, 2009

Democratization of Manufacturing: Great Article in ASME’s „Mechanical Engineering“ Journal

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:46+00:00 April 14th, 2009|Customization Trends, Fabbing, General, MC/OI on the Web, User Manufacturing|

Asme In the recent issue of Mechanical Engineering (April 2009), the journal of the powerful American Society of Mechanical Engineering , Associate Editor Jean Thilmany has published a great article on mass customization. His conclusion: Mass customization is part-way here; when the rest will arrive is anyone’s guess.

The article provides a great comparison of traditional consumer-co-design driven mass customization (you designing your shirt in an online-configurator), traditional engineer-to-order and small-batch production, and the new opportunities provided by 3D printing and rapid manufacturing.

As Thilmany observes in the article:

"Pine’s definition
[of mass customization] can get a bit muddled, what with the growth of rapid prototyping and related technologies such as 3-D printing. Is a rapid prototype an instance of mass customization? Does an object printed on a 3-D printer qualify?

If the printed piece is meant to be used as an end product—not a prototype—it’s an example of a mass customized product, Pine said.

“I always believe words have meaning,” he said. “It’s called rapid prototyping because you’re making a prototype.”

But say you design an object using an online service like Shapeways of Eindhoven, the Netherlands? That company allows you to upload your own 3-D models. Shapeways prints your object on a 3-D printer and sends it to you. You’ve created your own custom product, Pine said."

But what is the future of mass customization?

Donal Reddington, who runs the Web site MadeForOne.com, is quoted in the article on this:

"So far mass customization—of varying degrees—has supplemented mass production, Reddington said.  So why, in this age of the Internet, hasn’t it come closer to replacing mass production in both the retail and engineering sectors?

“The consumer society is very much based on the idea of gratification. I walk into a shop, see something I like, and walk out with a sense of satisfaction at having bought it,” Reddington said.

“But the predominant mass customization business model that’s gained root since the mid-1990s is the online model, which provided customers with the facility to go online and configure the product, order it, and get exactly what they wanted delivered after one week. Or maybe two or three weeks,” he added.

And where will this lead to?

Despite the impediments to adoption, all the experts interviewed expect mass customization to grow.
“Going into the future, the Internet will facilitate a new wave of mass customization, where customers will create and trade designs for physical products in the same way they trade music files,” Reddington said.  

And not only will consumers find ever-more Internet-based design tools at their disposal, they’ll continue to see advances in the capability to build their own products to their specifications, Piller said.

For the full article, available for free online, head to:

25 03, 2009

Interview: The Next Generation of Architectural Design: Daniel Smithwick from Physical Design Co on a great way to build the garden house of your dream … and much more

By | 2018-06-14T11:10:07+00:00 März 25th, 2009|Co-creation, Fabbing, Furniture - Home, Interview, Open/User Innovation, User Manufacturing|

Daniel Smithwick
Daniel Smithwick
is the co-founder and CEO of Physical Design Co., a Cambridge, MA, startup that wants to start a revolution in building structures. His vision: To empower every consumer to transform nearly any custom design into easily assembled physical structures delivered to your backyard! This could be your next garden house project. Before, you either had to purchase an expensive standard house at Home Depot that was not only labor intensive to assemble, but often ugly and not fitting exactly your requirements. Or you could get your hands dirty and start a complicated DIY project, constructing it with 2x4s and nails. As a last alternative, you could hire a contractor to build you your dream house … but this comes with a heavy price tag and often delays of the construction crew.

Daniel wants to offer another alternative: You design your dream in SketchUp, the free CAD software by Google, and his company will translate your uploaded design in a custom kit of interlocking CNC-cut parts that you can then easily assemble after delivery. His promise: "With Physical Design Co Web Platform anyone can design, remotely manage production, and assemble their own full-scale inhabitable creations!"

In an interview, Daniel shared more information about his project and company and what he regards as the future of mass customization.

Daniel Smithwick is an architectural designer by training and he is currently a graduate researcher at MIT where he is a member of the Smart Customization Group and the Digital Design and Fabrication Group.  Daniel co-lead the latest research project by the Digital Design and Fabrication Group called, “Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans,” a project commissioned by and exhibited at the MoMA in New York for their 2008 show, Home Delivery, Fabricating the Modern Dwelling.  Before coming to MIT, Daniel worked professionally as a designer for leading architecture and design firms including: Pompei Architectural Design in NYC, Loom Architects in Minneapolis, MN, and Howeler + Yoon Architecture in Boston.

FTP: Daniel, what is the idea behind your startup, Physical Design Co?

1 PHYSICAL DESIGN CO_Get Physical Process
DS: The central idea behind Physical Design Co. is to provide consumers with easy-to-use online tools that engage them in the design and manufacturing process and enables them to become the producers of their own architectural-scale designs.  Our web platform also allows consumers to utilize local manufacturing via our distributed fabrication network which not only reduces carbon emissions, but it also strengthens local economies.  Essentially, we’re re-thinking how our built environment is designed and constructed – with the Physical Design Co, online users, whether they live in rural China, or they are busy professionals interested in design, they can now play an active and participatory role in the built world around them.  

Through our web platform, anyone can upload and transform their digital design – any inhabitable accessory structure, from doghouses to backyard art studios – into a customized kit of interlocking parts that are locally manufactured and that can be easily assembled.  Consumers no longer need to rely on the traditional labor-intensive and wasteful construction process: with the Physical Design Co all you need is a rubber mallet to assemble your creation.

FTP: How is this different to existing companies in the field like Ponoko, Replicator or Shapeways?

DS: The Physical Design Co distinguishes itself in two ways. First, we provide consumers with the ability to custom design, and have fabricated, life-size and inhabitable scale structures, as opposed to only hand-held items like fashion accessories and table-top objects.  We’re interested in offering consumers more than just personalization; our web platform engages the consumer in the design, manufacturing and delivery process – giving them the tools to make smarter decisions about how they impact the built and natural environment.

Second, we have developed a patent-pending technology which automatically translates the user’s design into a unique kit of interlocking, easy-to-assemble parts.  For example, let’s say you wanted to design a backyard shed.  Instead of having to digitally model all of the individual parts, consider how they all attached together, worry about the structural integrity and verify that it is indeed possible to put it all together, with the Physical Design Co., all you have to do is model the shape of your design.  Our technology automatically and digitally translates the design shape into a kit-of-parts that can then be CNC fabricated and subsequently interlock together without the need for nails, screws or any additional hardware.  

PHYSICAL DESIGN CO at the Maker Faire 2008
FTP: Dan, you recently presented your company and some creations at the Maker Faire of MAKE magazine, a large gathering of hardware hackers and DIY enthusiasts in Austin, TX. Can tell us some more about this exhibition and the feedback you received?

DS: In October of 2008 the Physical Design Co., in collaboration with ShopBot Tools (an innovative manufacturer of user-friendly CNC machines) designed, fabricated and exhibited the ‘Austin Shed’ for the Maker Faire in Austin, TX.  This is the world’s first digitally fabricated shed.

The feedback we received from the Maker Faire attendees was incredible.  Most were simply amazed at how structurally strong the shed was without any nails, screws or hardware holding it together.  However, the most rewarding feedback we received was from children.  At the faire, we pulled a few of the ‘skin’ panels off to reveal the grid structure of the interlocking ribs so that visitors could understand how it was assembled.  What surprised us was that 10 year-old kids would pick up the removed parts and correctly replace them back on the shed without any knowledge of how the system worked.  We were delighted to find that our assembly process is intuitive enough that children could put it together!

FTP: How do you master the manufacturing process; who are your cooperation partners?

DS: The great thing about the Physical Design Co and our manufacturing process is that we don’t need to build any new large and energy-inefficient factories to produce our users’ designs.  In fact, the manufacturing infrastructure already exists worldwide – it’s the tens of thousands of individual CNC owners around the world whose machines are online.  These are our cooperation partners.

Through our web platform, these CNC owners become members of our distributed manufacturing network through which they can promote their existing and on-going services.  This is how we enable the users and designers on our web platform to have their structures locally manufactured – which greatly reduces delivery costs both in terms of money and energy use. 

FTP: What are the next steps for your company, and how do you expect to grow it in the coming months?

DS: This summer, in collaboration with ShopBot Tools, Make Magazine and Google SketchUp we’re hosting a competition called the Get Physical! Design Competition which will take place at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA.  The top 3 winners will have their designs digitally fabricated using our web platform, assembled and showcased at the upcoming Maker Faire.  Keep an eye on our blog for more details over the next couple of months.

FTP: What are other trends you see with regard to mass customization?

DS: When answering this question I like to quote Eric von Hippel from his book, Democratizing Innovation:

“When the cost of high-quality resources for design and prototyping becomes very low, these resources can be diffused widely, and the allocation problem diminishes in significance.  The net result is and will be to democratize the opportunity to create.”

I think we’ll continue to see an increase in user-engagement not only in the design process but also in the production process of our built environment as the availability of digital fabrication equipment exponentially grows.  In addition I think we’re just beginning to understand the power of online user communities and crowd-sourcing.  Rather than just offering product mass customization to isolated individual users, we are starting to see that by enabling them to interact with each other through a web platform, their collective intelligence is boundless.

For more information, contact Daniel at dan@physicaldesignco.com