Imagine if you could build cars, industrial robots, engines, and other things in your own back yard. The only problem is, these require billions of dollars of infrastructure in the current industrial system. Not for long – if we succeed with the Open Source Micro-Factory.
We will be starting a viral Kickstarter campaign in the next week or two to make this concept a reality at a prototype development cost of about $100k. The concept is simple: open-source ~12 of the most important, high-performance machines of industrial production and automation, provide plans for all these machines, and provide plans for certain key products that can be built with these machines. This could be a serious contribution to realizing the concept of Industry 2.0 – a scenario of distributive, local production via flexible fabrication, fueled by a global repository of open source design. While such production can occur in your own back yard, our real intent is enabling the solution of creating wealth in local communities. The potential is profound – and is described best by Jane Jacobs, who claims that the highest level of evolution (like Maslow’s Pyramid) for cities – is for those cities to return to local production (import substitution).
The Micro-Factory includes the following:
In short, the Open Source Micro-Factory is a robust, closed-loop manufacturing system for many kinds of mechanical and electronic devices. It includes the ability to provide its own fuel, electricity, and mechanical power.
The designs are scalable in output. Our proposal includes open source blue-prints and CAM files for self-replication, starting from scrap metal as a feedstock. The above represents a rough sketch, with break-through economics included – such as building a $50k-value tractor at about $3k in parts, or 50 hp hydraulic motors at about $50 in parts via open source induction furnace, casting, and precision machining. So we’re beginning our foray into the next phase of fabrication – making our own components, as opposed to outsourcing from China.
See the Global Village Construction Set Product Ecologies page on the wiki for more information on the above tools.
So far we are considering the following collaborations to make the Open Source Micro-Factory happen:
- Isaiah Saxon to lead the viral Kickstarter campaign. New friend and TED Fellow 2010, Perry Chen, founder of Kickstarter offered assistance. Luke Nosek, whom I also met at TED, is one of the founders of Paypal and has offered assistance in getting the word out.
- Dominic Muren, TED Fellow, and founder of Humblefactory, on concept development.
- Factor e Farm: continued prototyping of CNC oxy-hydrogen torch table, Tractor, Soil Pulverizer, and CEB Press until full product release by end of May, 2011.
- Collaboration with the open source CubeSpawn for the CNC circuit mill, and with RepRap for the 3D printer. We are considering the CubeSpawn platform for a combined CNC Circuit Mill/3D Printer. Peter Koeleman, True Fan, is currently prototyping RepRap Darwin and Mendel for OSE.
- Dan Granett – subject matter expert on precision CNC machining – on the OS Precision Multimachine with Surface Grinder Attachment.
- Karl Petersen on the first prototype of a stationary, modern steam engine
- True Fan from Indiana assisting on Oxyhydrogen Generator prototyping
- New TED Fellow friends from India to help design and prototype the Inverter, Welder, Induction Furnace, and Hydraulic Motors.
- Bill Haessly from Ohio collaboration working on Nickel Iron Batteries
- Sid Jordan, professional fabricator from Ohio collaboration, on the Ironworker Machine.
- Sweiger Shop, on prototyping the Pelletizer.
- Phil Jorgensen of Grid Beam, and Joachim Mitchell, Senior TED Fellow, on car design. This will test the feasibility of the interchangeable Power Cube as an engine for cars.
- Leo Dearden, collaborator from the UK, on design and prototyping of a scalable, high-power, open source stepper motor controller. Only low-power versions are currently open source.
If I didn’t list you and you should be added to the list above, email me at opensourceecology at gmail dot com. If you are surprised to find yourself in the list above, then I didn’t yet get a chance to talk to you, and I hope you are not offended.
The OS Microfactory is a BHAG, and we aim to complete these prototypes within 3 months of the Kickstarter campaign reaching its goal. This would cover 15 (steam engine includes steam generator and gasifier burner) of the pieces of the GVCS. With the CEB, tractor, and pulverizer, that would bring the total to 18. This would test our ability to scale the project to about 6 parallel projects at a time per month. This does not include our parallel efforts of resource development in the nonprofit sector, which we hope will bring in the complete sum of $2M within our 2 year mark. We are actually initiating and scaling the nonprofit effort at present, upon which we’ll report next. If the nonprofit sector works, we would like to collect a total of $4M – so we can guarantee the highest level of documentation quality for the GVCS. The key to open source is and always will be the availability of documentation.