Closed Loop Additive Manufacturing

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With the advent of the Steam Camp initiative, additive manufacturing, or 3d printing, is becoming more accessible to interested parties.

Once we know how to design, make, and use a 3D printer, a next logical step is how to provide additive manufacturing services and products to local communities in a decentralized, efficient, and sustainable way.

The purpose of this page is to lay this ground work.

Potential Audiences and Target Markets

I see two potential audiences or target markets for such a system, and it could be helpful if OSE collectively targets one audience to start:

1. Local village-scale communities (e.g. eco-villages, survivalists, rural areas)

2. Mainstream society (i.e. "normal everyday people" living in cities and suburbs)

These audiences would be interested in different products.

For example, a survivalist might be interested in 5 gallon buckets, small miscellaneous parts for off-grid systems, rain-water harvesting equipment, etc.

While mainstream society might be interested in cell-phone cases, head-phone buds, wallets, etc.

I imagine local village-scale communities is our ideal target market, but it could be helpful to target a mainstream audience to drive greater interest and publicity towards OSE, and thus funding and livelihood for OSE developers.

Also, there's overlap between these audiences, and it's possible we could take a happy middle-path.

Product Catalog

Once an audience or target market is defined, we can then define a product catalog.

The importance of doing so has multiple factors.

Ensure Quality

Every 3D printer model is unique.

In order to print quality products, you need to tune and adjust the settings of the printer appropriately.

OSE can standardize on a printer like the D3D Pro and have a suite a quality-controlled products with the appropriate printer settings already figured out.

Web Catalog

Then interested community members can browse this product catalog through an online web-interface, place an order, initiate some means of delivery, and have confidence they'll receive a quality product.

See also Open Source Everything Store.

Efficiency and Automation

The audience and target market plays into the efficiency and automation aspects of the system as well.

In one sense, we want the system to be as efficient and automated as possible.

Automated Order, Manufacturing, and Delivery Process

1. A person browses the online product catalog, and places an order

2. We automatically find an available printer, or place the job in queue, and start printing when a printer is available

3. Once complete, a mechanical robot arm detaches the part from the heated bed, packs it in a box, and places it in a defined location for transport

  • This step is advanced and will likely be manual, and only semi-automated for first iterations.

4. An autonomous drone picks up the box, and delivers the product to the person's residence


I could see a mainstream audience loving this. "Wow! It's so efficient, automated, and hi-tech".

Clearly it's efficient, and frees people up for higher-pursuits.


However, I could see people in eco-villages having serious concerns:

1. Some people are weary of technology, automation, and are even opposed in some cases.

2. An automated process de-personalizes the exchange leaving little or no interaction between the consumer and producer

3. Not everyone wants autonomous flying drones, or autonomous cars going around delivering things automatically

  • Noise pollution concerns
  • Safety concerns
  • Just not comfortable with the idea

See Also

See also Mechanized Execution System or MES, and Open Source Automated Print Farm.

Localized or Globalized Distribution, Shipping, and Logistics

We could focus on a localized or globalized distribution, shipping, and logistics system.

This decision will be driven by the choice of a target audience.

If we want to cater towards eco-villages (our ideal audience?), then we should focus on local.

If we want to cater towards a more mainstream audience, then we should focus on globalized.

Technology Stack

This decision will influence the technology stack of supporting software that OSE develops for the online store and end-to-end process (i.e. ordering, manufacturing, delivery, and recyling).

If it's localized, and decentralized, then we'll likely want to experiment with decentralized technology:

  • Blockchain
  • Ethereum
  • Holochain
  • Decentralized apps or "Dapps"

If it's globalized, then we can leverage mainstream centralized technology and distribution services:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • Amazon Prime
  • FedEx
  • UPS

There's more a niche market with the localized approach, and the globalized approach appeals to a broader audience.

Product Lifecycle Management

The real advantage of this system, and what sets this apart from the manufacturing system we have today, is that each product in the product catalog can have a defined life-cycle and process for re-use, re-purposing, and recycling.

If the distribution, shipping, and logistics is local, then it'll be more sustainable and effective to transport products back to the producer for recycling via the Precious Plastic Shredder and Precious Plastic Extruder.

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