History of Open Science Shop & Working Group Report

History of Open Science Shop & Working Group Report
As members of the Open Science Shop community, we have a shared goal of increasing accessibility to open science hardware products. As we launch Open Science Shop with this goal in mind, we thought it would be relevant to share a brief history of how we got to where we are today. This post also includes links to the comprehensive 2021 report on Distributed Manufacturing of Open Hardware, written by members of the GOSH Open Hardware Distribution & Documentation Working Group. 

2020-2021: Distribution & Documentation Working Group

"The ability to manufacture and distribute locally is key to unlocking the full potential of open hardware. Local manufacture and distribution makes it easier for hardware to reach specific markets, and to be customized for local needs. It can also help to bring open hardware beyond its original design community to larger audiences" - WG 2021 Report

The GOSH Open Hardware Distribution & Documentation Working Group was developed in 2020 to address the community interest in open science hardware manufacturing. They met over 11 months with the following stated objectives:

The short-term goal of the group was to produce a proof of concept for distributed Open Science Hardware (OScH) manufacturing using the OpenFlexure project as a case study. In the longer term, the working group hoped to help enable sustainable distributed manufacturing in OScH

You can read more about the working group and their goals in the Intro post below:

Open Hardware Distribution & Documentation Working Group: Intro
As practitioners and promoters of open hardware, we envision and work towards a near future where open is the default; where we can easily…

In total, the working group published sixteen blog posts covering how a distributed manufacturing network could potentially address manufacturing, documentation, marketing, branding and much more.

  1. Open Hardware Distribution & Documentation Working Group: Intro
  2. Values-based standards for manufacturing (part 1)
  3. Values-based standards for manufacturing (part 2)
  4. Defining Priorities
  5. Interlude — Adjusting the Compass
  6. Introduction to Documentation and Quality Assurance Frameworks
  7. Same brand, different products
  8. Building for your audience
  9. Getting better by tracing failures
  10. The importance of a name
  11. Creating a network
  12. A centralized hub to support decentralized distribution
  13. Governing a central organization
  14. Pyramids versus circles — the need for more cooperative/collaborative business models for OScH
  15. Contracts and agreements
  16. In Summary: Closing the open hardware distribution and documentation working group

2021 Report: Distributed Manufacturing of Open Hardware

At the end of the project, the group published a report from their findings and discussions titled "Distributed Manufacturing of Open Hardware" published by Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy.

The report covers the benefits and challenges of setting up a distributed manufacturing network using the Open Flexure microscope as a case study. They cover some of the Elements involved (e.g. manufacturing, documentation, marketing, customer support), Infrastructure needed and more. They also identified Questions that would need to be addressed such as "what qualifies as adequate documentation?"

The working group also concluded that an open hardware manufacturing subgroup of organizations and companies would be ideally suited to continue this work.

2023: Launching the Open Science Shop

Open Science Shop is a new initiative launched by the open science hardware manufacturing community which includes new members from Open Science Hardware companies alongside some original members of the Distribution and Documentation Working Group. Open Science Shop will be starting with shared marketing and documentation support, with the intention of continuing to test distributed manufacturing in the long-run across a community of companies and organizations. 

Join Open Science Shop

There are many ways to join and contribute to Open Science Shop! We will have a public meeting soon (watch this space!) but in the meantime, join on Slack or using any of the links below:

About Open Science Shop: We are a collective of open science hardware manufacturers, businesses, developers and advocates who have a shared interest in making it easy to find affordable, customizable, open source instruments for science. Our goal is to grow the community to support marketing, sales and distributed manufacturing of open hardware science instruments.