GOSH Community Forum

Product Development Toolchain


This post came from discussions about distributed manufacturing here. @jcm80 @ryanfobel @szroboman_opentrons @kaspar @amchagas @julianstirling @moritz_lablab @regfade maybe missing someone sorry if so!!!


To create a specific TOOLCHAIN (set of connected technologies / procedures) which different hubs can use to produce open science hardware. The focus is on consistency, quality, and building both perceived (branding) and real (product QC) customer trust.

SciBots + Our Sci are going to use this when we start manufacturing together - so it’s make it good! We’ll provide feedback on what worked well and what didn’t in our case. Also recognize we need to be practical about the skills we have, and where we should outsource skills to 3rd parties.


When selecting the technologies in the toolchain, we should consider the following:

  1. Functional - it should do what we need it to do, and do it well!
  2. Usable - it should require as little training as possible.
  3. Accessible - should be usable in most countries at most times.
  4. Supported - the technology should have a long life, and ideally a strong development community
  5. Open source - we should support open source

Sections of the Toolchain


These are the sections of the toolchain which will require a choice of technologies.

Evaluating Potential Products

  • Sensorica’s Review Doc: @tiberiusb from Sensorica (cc’ing @fabioballi from Breathing Games) sent this example document for discussing and evaluating new projects for Sensorica. Really helpful and good section overviews, especially like the groupings of growing consensus, attention, alternatives, etc.
  • Sparkfun’s onboarding doc: Link here. Another good one, lots of good ideas there.

Product Design Tools

PCB design, 3D design, etc. etc.

  • KiCAD - Circuit Board schematics + board layout tool
  • FreeCAD - 3D design
  • OpenScad - 3D design

Assembly Instructions

  • Dozuki - Developed by creators of iFixit, used by Prusa and others (closed source – expensive?)
  • Wikifab is a similar system (seems to be in the process of renaming to dokit.io) (open source? [2] – expensive?)
  • GitBuilding/BuildUp - Not yet ready for the prime time. This is the work of @julianstirling, @kaspar, @rbowman. GitBuiding is program which turns Markdown with added metadata (Which we are calling BuildUp) into normal markdown with auto-generated bill of materials. It has a built in editor and a will create static website for documentation (Example). We don’t recommend this yet, but we hope people can try it and tell us about pain points.

Documentation Standards

  • Open Know-How - A manifest file that lets software and people know what files are what, what the project is about and makes your project more discoverable
  • DIN 3105 - A standard that let’s you or others certify that this is truly open source hardware (as of yet unreleased – here’s a video)

Supply Chain Tools

BOM management, stocking management + SOPs, etc.

For parts and stock management there is Part-DB (open source). It can print barcode labels, keep track of available components and sources & order code of parts. Currently the project is undergoing a complete rewrite.

Testing instructions

(To check the product for complete functionality)

Use Instructions + Tutorials


Icons, Art, Web Design, Consistent look and feel


Shipping software + tracking

Tech support + Customer service

web-based chat software, end user agreements , etc.

Advertising + Marketing

email marketing software, customer interaction software (salesforce), advertising options (google adwords), etc.

webstore + stock checking