Crowd Manufacturing?

Hi all, I’m new & in the process of building my first OpenFlexure Microscope which we need for the open source protein project.

While I’m very happy building my own, I would have been delighted to pay a premium for a kit with ALL the non-printed parts. I’m aware of others interested in protein fermentation who wouldn’t be willing/able to build their own, but I don’t know where to recommend they go to buy a fully commissioned OFM.

I had a great initial chat with @julianstirling and then started discussing the idea of crowd manufacturing with others at Amybo. @julianstirling then mentioned the Open Science Shop.

Is the ability for makers to build and sell as many or as few Open Science Hardware items as they like, and/or do/share commissioned work on the cards?


@nanocastro & @gbathree - Julian said it would be great to speak with you about this…

And @jcm80 Everyone has suggested that I speak with you about what we’re trying to do with Amybo and open source protein.

hi Martin
I’m not aware of anyone selling OFM kits…yet. Maybe you can join the Open Science Shop and share your ideas/concerns about distributed manufacturing there
You can join from this link
Just took a peep to your Amybo project and looks pretty interesting :slight_smile:


Thanks Fernando, I think I have joined, I certainly signed up for the newsletter, suggested that I’d be happy to write an article on Crowd Manufacturing (not that I’ll be imparting much knowledge, more asking readers if they recon the idea has legs), and requested a Slack invite. I also tried ‘Contact Us’ and attempted to send a lovely message but said “That is an error. Our bad. Please try again.

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And I’m delighted that you found the Amybo project interesting, have Cooperativa Ayllú looked into fermentation?

Hi Martin, thanks for filling out the newsletter form and for subscribing! I have also sent you a link to join Slack and I’m not sure why the Contact Us form on Instagram gave you that error message. Would have loved to read your message. However, posting here is great too! It’s good to keep this conversation going on the gosh forum.

If you haven’t already, I would recommend checking out the report highlighted in this post: History of Open Science Shop & Working Group Report
That helped me (as a new member of Open Science Shop) to understand what the working group learned about the possible opportunities and barriers to distributed manufacturing.

There’s alot of momentum at the moment around Open Science Shop and the possibilities. It’s great you have joined! Right now there is a focus on building/organizing the community which is exciting. I knw @gbathree has been working hard on community agreements and how members can work 1-on-1. For example, open hardware designers working 1-on-1 with a maunfacturer or other service like documentation. We are also working on shared marketing of products and listing products on the Open Science Shop website is in progress.

Looking forward to keeping this conversation going and welcome :slight_smile:

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Also, yes, if you are interested in writing something for the newsletter about Crowd Manufacturing, that would be great!

Actually the latest newsletter Exploring strategies for extending use of open hardware in K-12 schools posted today was written "as a way of initiating dialog between open hardware companies and educators about potential synergies that might be developed"

So, posts exploring ways the Open Science Shop community could work are very welcome! Thanks for suggesting that.

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Thanks Jo

That’s brilliant. My main thing is acting as a cheer leader for open source protein - see Julian’s kind plug:

Open source protein isn’t really hardware at all. But hardware probably is one of the biggest barriers to massive distributed open research on protein. I initially wondered about helping distribute Pioreactors in the UK, but was concerned that my having a financial interest in one of the products we recommend wouldn’t be ideal. I then found it surprisingly difficult to source all the bits I needed to build an OFM, and the apparent impossibility of buying one ready made.

That then got me thinking that if we could set up a platform where any maker could build and sell any open science hardware without minimum numbers, etc. it may simplify the manufacturing process for projects like OFM. We could also potentially pool procurement and set up ad-hoc teams to fulfil large orders…

I have shared the History Report with others at Amybo, and will get down to reading both it & the latest newsletter after tomorrow night’s livestream.


I have developed an open source bioreactor that has some good qualities and could be used for biological production. At this point it can do 1 liter maybe 2 if properly balanced but replacing the motors could double that I think.


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Excellent, how do we find your bioreactor Adrian?

Ah excellent, yes Danny’s using some of your bioreactors at Biotech without Borders in NYC!

He actually wrote a little about it in our docs - I suspect it may in many senses be better for cultures like Spirulina than the Pioreactor that I’m currently using, although I’m not sure whether it could work with things like Hydrogen Oxidising Bacteria which I’m (personally) hoping to get to next.

I’ve been trying to get someone from Biotech without Borders to try a Spirulina batch in it, we’d love to feature it & their labs in a future livestream.

I’m not sure how precise your bioreactor needs to be but I suspect it has to be able to do a large volume because you are talking production. I think BoB will be too busy to do anything external for about one year.

Mine was designed to be general purpose, fairly large volume and use soft agitation that does not break mammalian cells.

How do you intend to distribute the proteins?

What are the special requirements for HOBacteria?

Thanks Adrian
I’m conscious that I don’t want to hijack this discussion on “Crowd Manufacturing” with my personal requirements from bioreactors. I also couldn’t see a good place to start a thread here. Projects would make sense, but our application of bioreactors isn’t really an “open science hardware project”, its an open science project that uses open science hardware…
So I attempted to answer all your questions in a discussion here.

I would however be really keen to discuss here whether you think Crowd Manufacturing would help with your bioreactor? Do you get many requests for fully or partially constructed bioreactors or even ‘bags of bits’, and are you able to fulfil them all yourself, or might help from a crowd of makers help?

just the classic ones… wine, beer, cider and some kimchi, kefir and so on… no proteins at all

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Are they into research, or production?

production and homemade research :slight_smile:

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Hi Martin,
Yeah, in response to your question about pooling orders, we have some experience at IO Rodeo with this. Will Dickson at IO Rodeo is a member of a design team for an open hardware tool. It’s a neurobiology flight arena and is a specialized instrument. As well as being part of the design team, IO Rodeo also served as the hub for pooling orders from many different labs and then pricing out and ordering the various PCBs and LEDs from vendors to keep costs down etc. That way, each lab is not having to source all the components themselves, which would cost alot more than pooling orders etc. They would just send us a PO and we would add them to our next batch. It worked pretty well. For example, when we were gearing up to place a new order we would send an email out to every lab on our list. The lead-time on some of the PCBs was quite long so we did a few batch orders a year.
For a more popular instrument like the Open Flexure Microscope, this should be easier to handle I would think? Food for thought.

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Hi Jo,

Your pooled ordering sounds eminently sensible, it must minimise issues of long term inventory storage. I guess you may buy a couple extra with each batch to keep for emergency orders, which could presumably be sold at a premium to cover storage costs.

@nanocastro just mentioned your pH FeatherWing in the water test kit matrix discussion. I’d have bought one already, but postage to the UK is >1.5x the cost of the product itself, so perhaps we should have a chat elsewhere about other instruments you sell that may help our work at Amybo before I place an order…

Back on topic for this discussion: do you have any UK/EU distributors, or do you think some sort of Crowd Manufacturing hub here could help IO Rodeo? The idea would be that the hub would buy the unique components of your products from you in bulk, and source the other bits ‘locally’ then sell on assembled units or kits to the UK/EU markets with much more affordable and sustainable local shipping.

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