[Day 3] Sustainable & Local Manufacturing




  •   How to grow spread manufacturing of open science hardware
  •   Local manufacturing models for OS hardware
  •   Scaling open source technologies
  •   Sustainable manufacturing methods/guidelines
  •   Environmental impacts of hardware productions
  •   Working with aluminium

Aims: degree of overlap between sustainable and local manufacturing – differences and commonalities. How can manufacturing be tailored to better support OH?


o @annasera : interest in manufacturing and involvement in MakerNet Alliance,
o @efeefe starting project digital fabrication, upcycling. Working with cooperative that collects recyclables and repair things
o @juul local manufacturing of bio. How can people make things themselves instead of centralizing production
o @Clarissa : kickstarter v aware of products that could be more sustainable. How to incentivize creators to be more sustainable
o @loubez local alternatives to importing
o @julianstirling OpenFlexure microscope being produced in Africa. Interested in problems of production – supply chain, issues of quality control and maintenance not necessarily part of maker communities
o @yk_kabakoo runs MakerSpace in Mali – manufacturing final goal of making
o @Analia : run NGO to promote product development

Observation: 3 topics in session local manufacturing, sustainability of manufacturing, scaling access
o Assumption that spreading out manufacturing makes technologies more accessible
o Talk about overlap between sustainable and local manufacturing – sometimes recovery of manufacturing parts for reuse could be better done in non-local settings
Problem with manufacturing is centralization of power. Sustainability second to accessibility. Lack of accountability in current corporations – spreading out power enables people to make their own decisions. Some things won’t be easier to do, but people will be able to make their own decisions.
o Assumes an level of knowledge and ability to measure
Hax suggested that people should come to Shenzhen because everything can be made here. But what impact is that for other countries – things are more expensive because of supply chains. Significant benefit for taking manufacturing to those areas. But also negatives like pollution.
Local manufacturing are still v primitive – would like to use local materials, but so far it is not possible.
o Chicken and egg – if no one is making things, there is no reason to manufacture
There are some promising possible avenues of development. Could start thinking about use of local waste materials etc.
o But steps between local production and industrial production. Consistency etc
o Industrial production – can you rely on using the product – is it consistent?
Is local manufacturing less sustainable – not necessarily, but if people are doing it in their backyard they will probably care more about sustainability
Local manufacturing can harness sustainability in their business model – but difficult with large quantities.
o But need an easier way of comparing sustainability of companies – not easy to understand. Perhaps need a way to standardize data.
Local manufacturing is often more transparent – the community knows how it was made (and often makes it).

Question: what could GOSH do to support local manufacturing?

o If we have an open product that is needed in many locales – motivation for local manufacturing
o Using things that are locally available in production – open is not necessarily cheap because they’re not available in some places
o Need to tell people that if you want your project to have impact you have to make sure that the supply chains are in place – also links in to documentation
o There should be an idea that in each region certain things are available – GOSH should collaboratively edit this
o Set of standards for data reporting around availability or transparency
What we are missing is a common lingua franca – the lab in West Africa will struggle to do a manufacturing project because the way we are supposed to work – tools and resources – are not the resources that most people have. Will a standard address these differences?
We should not assume that availability of technologies are the same everywhere. We should ask what can we manufacture without having to import?
Also important to test products in different environments – how difficult is the making. And, if you don’t have the tools, can you make them?
o Is there a need for designs for stepping stone tools – “enabling technologies”?
Manufacturing for local needs – the focus is always on making something cheaply locally and having a high value for export. There seems to be very little interest in funding things that meet basic local needs because there’s no money in it. There’s a conflict that makes it very hard to meet local needs. Within biology there might be some options for local needs AND high value – like Open Insulin – perhaps more difficult for hardware
GOSH supported enabling technologies – get the community to test it in different areas to ensure that it can be built anywhere. Community needs to be vocal about current absences and also willing to build prototypes in situ
o But, the students in Mali don’t relate to the current OH resources – it will be difficult to get people buy in to building and testing technologies
o Need money to support build
o What works is if they produce something that they need it will be more useful – facilitate a wide range of projects though strategic building
Is it efficient if everyone is building variations of the same thing?
Maintenance is a big cost – local manufacturers can come in and maintain
o Lifetime of product
o Need scale – not the cost but the time – isn’t it better to just use other plans instead and not waste time by duplication
o Need to learn from other business models and use of products in different countries
o Relates to documentation – if it’s done properly it should make things more efficient
o Sustainability discussions are extensive and sometimes it is difficult to know what it means. Could be sourcing raw materials and tools
o Better sharing of needs – what are challenges in local environments. Ie. could be simple as shipping tools, but also taking on challenges
o Commonalities in many countries in the Global South
 Need to link Global South OSHers to discuss commonalities and to share ideas and learning experiences to overcome these issues – set up GOSH Global South forum to share challenges and be a resource for interested people (both southerners and northerners that want to help)
o Place to share what is needed – not just advice but practical solutions
Sometimes solutions is not about money, it’s about sharing
Sometimes local authorities are not in line with efforts to enhance sustainability – also impacts on OH for sustainability when authorities are not supportive of innovative activities that do things in a different way
Problems of local people/manufacturers not understanding the impact of manufacturing locally – enabling understanding will be a long-term plan

o List missing technologies needed for enabling
o Identify useful enabling designs and test build-ability by GOSHers around the world
o Start Global South OSH forum – discuss challenges and ideas, also highlight issues of sustainability
o Inventory manager for sharing – Bionet


Thanks @loubez for the documentation (I just uploaded it).
I’ve made it a wiki so any participants can edit.