Consortium & Project Definition


A major goal of this project is to create a common ground that serves as a point of reference for all the different players in the digital fabrication landscape. We do that by taking advantage of the above-described problematic situation in an opportunistic way that protects the intellectual rights, enable new service models, protect old business models and assuring the right material to make objects with the correct functional features. Some traditional rules need to be adapted or even changed but the most important part is the creation of an open collaboration consortium based on public-private partnership, serving as a licensing platform where OEM’s, object designers, hardware/software firms, material developers and machine makers, all share a common denominator.The digital fabrication revolution is happening. Programmable machines via CNC, PLC and robotic tools have been used in production sites around the world for the last 3 to 5 decades depending on the country, and digital machining gained presence in small shops, ateliers and even personal hobbyists. 3D printing is equally old as a specialty niche until it gained higher visibility during the last decade. Additive manufacturing is -by some- still considered a hype because is not (yet) fast enough to satisfy mass productions lines. There are hundreds of thousand people, companies and organizations worldwide, beginning to combine traditional fabrication or construction methods with less orthodox -but more and more digital- ways to make complete objects or replacement parts. The latter represents a major risk for the intellectual property of the designers and there are even bigger risks with other scenarios. To understand the circumstance better we need to explore other points of view first.

With or without 3D printing, the simple fact of having information shared to allow reproduction, repair or improvement of objects that may or may not be subject to a marketing scheme, the scenario creates a paradox. On one hand we have those who think everything should be public domain and are seen as hobbyists or even eccentric movements, while others are protecting every little bit of their assets that in the end have negative impact on their innovation or invention cycles, becoming paralysed. Both sides have interesting points as long as the base of reasoning is extremist, hence subject to be true only in very standardised or controlled circumstances. he creation of a shared-source consortium offers a coalescent solution to the problem.

In short, the project is about creating a digital fabrication consortium through a collaborative approach to enable the re-industrialisation thanks to the digital fabrication revolution, creating a new landscape for new innovative business models that take advantage of the existing digital ecosystems, using old -but not obsolete- organisational constructions in the new and future generation’s scenario, specially in countries where the globalisation has jeopardised the youth's employability.

Approach and high level objectives

The actual common denominator is in the consortium framework itself, built to enable the interaction of large building blocks like the object encyclopedia, end-product data management, material reference databases, instructions and recipes, machining equipment tools & software, cloud-based prototyping, online licensing systems and a safe infrastructure facilitating the transactions between all of the above.

What’s in the project?

Enablers to craft the first working model of the framework:

  • Consortium composed of at least one party per each of the above building blocks.

  • Global shared collaboration agreements between local organizations and working groups.

Object Data Management modules - information envelope & repository:

  • Product Data Management     - i.e. description, dimensions, original purpose, history

  • Material Data Management  - chemical and physical properties to achieve purpose

  • Machine Data Management  - including CNC, PLC, 3D printing and machining device programming

  • Instructions and Recipes      - how to make, build and/or assembly anything

Training and education framework:

  • Technical schools, Makers communities and Master-Apprentice work shops / ateliers.

  • Visual Object Encyclopedia (both online and printed for public use or backup locations)

  • Virtual fabrication environment (alternate & augmented reality 3D object construction)

  • Massive Multiplayer Online Based Innovation (MMOBI idea generation and co-creation)

Approach - major milestones - streams

In a phased approach the project is now at the end of idea evaluation and the feasibility phase started in 2015. During this phase a proposal for the shape of the consortium is prepared, together with a high level design of the open collaboration platform and the required components, such as:

  • The legal framework and non-profit umbrella organization, alias the “Consortium” as we call it so far, that guarantees and safeguards the whole initiative from conflicts of interest or commercial take-over.

  • The collaboration network of partners willing to participate, to provide real object and material information in seamless accessible formats.

  • The Master Data Management guidelines enabling the meta-level harmonization of all the existing catalogs of objects, materials and processes involved in the fabrication practice world wide. That is the base for a planetary catalog of objects build by mankind.

  • The technical framework enabling “Pay-per-Make” service model supporting the ever growing brands and models of devices capable to perform 3D printing, additive manufacturing, and other fabrication or even traditional machining operations, in a “licensing clearing house” scheme.

Scope - key deliverables - work packages

  • Consortium creation and establishment. The shape and form of this organization is not clearly defined yet.

  • Legal scenarios and road map, dependencies and liabilities, risk management.

  • Open source API’s

  • Secure cloud data stores, Online-Based Innovation platform for invention.

  • Product Data Management (PDM) made of ISO-certified and other PDM sources.

  • Material Data Management (MDM) provided by companies that make materials.

  • Make or Build Database (MBD) adding processes, procedures, and instructions.

  • Licensing and transaction systems and other to-be-defined software platforms, if needed using cryptography and encryption blockchain technology.

  • Partners engagement plan, alliances and collaboration agreements, communication plan.

  • Meta-factory concept description

  • Training and deployment of prototype operations, the first meta-shops