Identifying the Factors Affecting the Replicability of Open Source Hardware Designs

Rafaella Antoniou, Romain Pinquié, Jean-Francois Boujut, Amer Ezoji, Elies Dekoninck

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Open-source hardware (OSH) development is a new design paradigm from a commercial perspective. Openly sharing designs of technical products is a step towards democratising access to new technologies for the benefit of individuals and communities in society. At the core of the open-source hardware definition lies the freedom for anyone to replicate the hardware based on the design. Thus, enabling this freedom is a step towards developing a successful OSH. Previous research supposes that a bill of materials and assembly instructions are enough for this. In this study, we question this assumption and investigate what other factors may influence replicability of an OSH. Using data from a survey and interviews with OSH practitioners, we identify and describe these factors, which relate to the documentation, the design and the context of the person replicating the hardware. Using these insights, we present a diagram of the replication process along with questions the person replicating the hardware would ask to check whether an OSH is replicable. Finally, we synthesise this information into practical advice for OSH projects to increase the replicability of the designs they produce, and thus the likelihood of their project's success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1826
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Early online date27 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021
Event23rd International Conference on Engineering Design - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202120 Aug 2021

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