OPEN! Methods and tools for community-based product development

open-logo-mediumObjective: develop an Open Design Platform allowing worldwide communities to collaborate on the design and continuous improvement of open source products. Challenge: transfer well-established methods and tools of industrial product development in the radically new environment of open design. Resulting impact: the liberation of the tremendous innovation potential of the crowd.

Status: runs

Partners: TU Berlin (Chair of Industrial Information Technology, Chair of Quality Science), Grenoble University (G-SCOP, CERAG), Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Raidlight SAS, OpenIT Agency, P2PLab, Open Source EcologyFunded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Agence nationale de la recherche.

Keywords: open (source) design, open source hardware, product data management.

Concept Open Design Platform

Problem statement

The spread of ICT and cheap low-size production tools like 3D-printers led to the development of open design, i.e. community-based and open source development of physical products. This innovative organization of product development based on a new conception of copyright as well as decentralized and voluntary work offers a disruptive alternative to conventional industrial product development. It provides a great opportunity for continuous improvement of products as well as formidable potentials for product innovation and incubation of new businesses.

However, the emergence of open design still suffers from a limited availability of supporting methods and online tools helping to face the organizational challenges raised by distributed collaboration of non-contractually engaged volunteers. Because of a lack of adapted structuration mechanisms, open design projects are still restricted to the development of products of low complexity and quality, i.e. prototypes or toys for do-it-yourself hobbyists. In order to compete with today’s standards of industrial product design, open design shall be provided with adapted methods that ensures significant process efficiency and economic viability.


The objective of this project is to develop an online Open Design Platform providing communities with innovative methods and tools allowing them to collaborate on the design and continuous improvement of open source products. The scope of the project covers 1) the characterization of the open design paradigm as it emerges actually 2) the development a set of methods for the organization of open design projects based on the adaptation of existing methods used in industry 3) the prototyping of an online platform implementing these methods. Scientific challenges addressed along these tasks are to:

  • Define an open source product development process ensuring the convergence of open source product development projects and allowing designing high quality and complex products.
  • Define adapted supporting information systems providing design communities with tools for online collaboration, product data management and management of the development process.
  • Define guidelines for business models helping entrepreneurs reducing risks associated with the development of business models based on open source.

See the press release of the Technische Universität Berlin.