In addition to “open source software” everybody knows about, there is also “open source hardware”. While open source software is quite easy to understand, you might need some more data to have a clear and correct view about open source hardware.
According to the definition given by Open Source Hardware Association, open-source hardware (OSHW) is “hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design”.
OSHW are tangible artefacts such as machines, devices, or other physical things. They may be electronic hardware (computers, electronics, mobile phones, etc.), mechanical hardware (parts, components, systems) or mechatronics hardware (3D printers, laser cutters, cars, bicycles, medical equipment, etc.). Among the most popular OSHW brands we can mention Arduino, Prusa, Ultimaker, Sparkfun, Adafruit but there are many other companies, products and projects that adhere to the open-source philosophy applied to touchable objects.
The main advantages of OSHW are related with the fact that they can be studied by anyone and adapted to particular needs and can be improved by anyone and the improvements released for others to benefit as well. Consequently, OSHW has the potential to accelerate the development of new devices. Least but not last, OSHW allows users to have more free and open forums to share ideas, experiences and to support each other.
The “Experts Program Toolkit” developed by the partners of project “Refitting Machine – Arduino expert for the recovery of obsolete machines” includes a chapter dedicated to OSHW where you can find more interesting information about the open-source phenomenon applied to physical objects. The toolkit will be soon available on our website https://refittingmachine.eu/.