With the rise of distributed manufacturing of 3D printing, hardware designs released under open source licenses are increasing exponentially. ICT industry knows open source software has an immense value, but how valuable is an open hardware design? It’s true the number of free and open source designs grows, as thousands of people download the files. But it can be difficult to quantify the value of the result.
Firts method: Making 3D printed products costs less than purchasing them, so the value of a design is the savings users generate by substituting open hardware scaled by the number of downloads.
The second method is more applicable to companies and represents the costs that they would incur if they hired engineers to create an equivalent design
The third method is only valid when distributed manufacturing is more extensive and entire product markets are impacted.
The results of Pearce’s case study analysis were shocking. “Millions of dollars of value can be created by designers if they share their work under open licenses“, says Pearce.