Recap: Open Science Shop & Open Flexure Microscope Working Group Meeting (June 2024)

Recap: Open Science Shop & Open Flexure Microscope Working Group Meeting (June 2024)
White text on a blue background reads "Recap: Open Science Shop & OpenFlexure Microscope Working Group Meeting, June 2024."
Written by Brianna Johns and Jo Long for the Open Science Shop Newsletter

Each month, we share a summary of our most recent Open Science Shop & OpenFlexure Microscope Working Group (OSS-OFM WG) meeting as we continue to work together to enable distributed manufacturing of the OpenFlexure Microscope (OFM) on a global scale.

The Open Science Shop convenes these working group meetings on a monthly basis. Keep reading below to learn more about what happened at this month's meeting!

To learn more about the OSS-OFM WG, check out our first post here.

How can we foster a cooperative network of manufacturers?

One of the questions raised during this week’s meeting is how to handle multiple manufacturers selling the same product in one region. In response, the group acknowledged that the Open Science Shop would support multiple sellers in the same region. One WG member stressed that competition is to be expected and it would be up to the customer to make that decision over which vendor they wanted to work with. Manufacturers also would have full decision-making control over which shipping options they would make available, i.e., whether they would offer domestic and international shipping.

The group also celebrated the fact that this is no longer a theoretical question now that multiple OFM manufacturers (including TauLab and IO Rodeo) are starting to emerge in the US and Europe!

Marks, badges, and other ways of denoting quality and contribution

The group also discussed the possibility of badges and “marks” (i.e., quality marks) as one tool for managing a growing network of manufacturers. These badges and marks could denote a variety of different things, but two areas in particular that the group focused on were: 

  1. Quality marks
  2. Contributions back to the OFM team

Quality marks are critical for a network of manufacturers such as this in order to avoid customers purchasing low-quality products. Having a mark indicating the quality of the product can ensure quality assurance, and customers can purchase a product with this particular mark, knowing that a baseline standard for quality is being met. 

The group also felt that manufacturers should be acknowledged for their contributions to the OFM project and given a particular badge or mark indicating this. This would also give customers the option to choose a manufacturer that has given back to the OFM project and community, which may appeal to many customers. 

The need for agreements as the network grows

The conversation on developing a network of distributed manufacturers naturally evolved into a discussion on the importance of agreements between manufacturers and the original open science hardware creators. In addition, agreements between manufacturers, distributors, and other key members of the supply chain will be needed. Developing agreements will take time and be an ongoing, iterative process as the group begins to scale. 

Currently, there are some draft templates started from the 2020-2021 Open Hardware Distribution & Documentation Working Group

Purpose - GOSH Distributed Manufacturing Templates & Procedures

Members of the stakeholder management and network building task force have volunteered to continue the work of drafting template MoUs and/or other agreements. 

To learn more about the OSS-OFM task forces, check out our last blog post here.

Next Steps

The Open Science Shop will continue hosting these meetings every month. The next meeting is scheduled for July 1st at 4 pm UTC. The goal of the meeting is to review and affirm the working group's proposed structure of task forces.

It's not too late to participate in the next OSS-OFM meeting. Fill out the meeting interest form and we will send you an invite to the next meeting.

Interested in bringing your open science hardware design to market? Connect with Open Science Shop

Open Science Shop's role is to facilitate connections between open science hardware project creators and a distributed manufacturing network. In addition to the OpenFlexure Microscope, we are also seeking to pilot distributed manufacturing initiatives with other designs. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the format we are developing is a space where anyone in the open science hardware community can bring a Product Proposal to the group for consideration. If you are interested in collaborating with Open Science Shop to support bringing your open science hardware design to market, please let us know by submitting this form, and we will follow up with the next steps.