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IF Project Outcome

The Open Source Hardware Ecosystem

The Open Source Hardware Ecosystem

Local production of goods is an important component of the circular economy that the INTERFACER Project envisions. To accomplish this, we need to freely exchange the data to produce these goods: data for manufacturing that we call Open Source Hardware. Open Source Hardware consists of a set of instructions and information to build or create a good.

The “Open Source Hardware Ecosystem” team of the INTERFACER Project focused on the software ecosystem around Open Source Hardware. One important outcome of this team is the Open Toolchain Foundation that has been discussed in a separate blog post. This blog post focuses on two other outcomes of the Open Source Hardware Ecosystem work package: Automated Documentation of Open Source Hardware and Standards for Open Source Hardware.

Open Source Hardware Automated Documentation

In this task we researched to what extent we can automate creating Ikea-style assembly manuals. We start from a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) file and use this as a database. To this we add a textual specification for the layout of the manual with links into the CAD file. From the CAD file and the textual specification, we generate an assembly manual automatically:

The two images below show two assembly manual pages of one of the machines of the Open Lab Starter Kit. These images were automatically generated by our software:

The concrete outcomes of this task are a research paper submitted to a scientific journal, and a software prototype in the form of a workbench for FreeCAD, an open source software CAD program:

Standards for Open Source Hardware

Open Source Hardware lends itself well to collaboration and to modular use of shared components, where anyone can build upon the knowledge of others to improve the hardware. In practice, however, modular reuse of components, finding other open source hardware, and collaboration is challenging because of lack of standardization.

This project created various software tools to improve on that situation. The tools are combined in the tool osh-tool that performs a quality assessment that indicates how well files are organized, how well the Open Know How standard was used, and whether the files are licensed properly.

A novel outcome of this task was a definition of a standard to organize files in Open Source Hardware. This allows software tools to analyze the projects and to fill in missing data automatically:

The set of software can be found here.





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