How to Build a Kit
One of OSE's goals is to create The Open Source Everything Store (OSES). OSES is an online store powered by distributed production and quality control - whereby production is democratized and de-specialized. OSE believes that products are needed for sustainable and regenerative living - but the current systems of production and distribution promote consumerism instead of self-determination. Led by these united States, this model of consumerism is being exported widely around the world.
The OSES is a public domain effort to distribute the production of manufactured goods in order to reframe industrial productivity to self-determination of people in harmony with natural life support systems. We believe that an open source effort where people collaborate on production and distribution can free civilization from consumerism if the efficiency and quality of consumer goods produced in a distributed way can match and exceed the current standard offered by the global economy. We believe that the route to doing this is enabling more people to be productive - as part of their way of life - by leveraging open source design and automation in the productive process. The idea is that if it is sufficiently easy to produce quality products in a distributed way - by using advanced production tool chains that are end-to-end open source - then a shift towards distributed production can happen in practice.
We believe that the missing link today is cultural consciousness of this possibility, followed by lack of open source tool chains to make this happen. Another challenge is how to support such development - as transforming the industrial productivity to open source is a large undertaking. The proposed route is taking a few key products to their true distributive enterprise potential, via a voluntary effort.
This effort should leverage information age techniques in order to scale. One scalable production method is the Kit. A Kit is an advanced product design that can be produced by the open source Desktop Microfactory - or even with simple assembly from easy-to-source off-the-shelf parts and basic tools. The revenue model behind a kit can be a service that focuses on helping customers build practical, useful things. Http://kit.com gives a small percentage to the kit producer. The service model would involve instructional videos, marketing assets, financial analysis, and other assets supporting distributed production. On one side, anyone is free to replicate the enterprise.
Given that many advanced products rely on intellectual property, public design can capture this value. It is possible to do this if sufficiently large numbers of people are involved in design. Incentive challenges such as Herox.com can be used to incentivize public development, while using crowd funding to produce the incentive prize.
Kits can be sold at a financially-sustainable markup. If a producer has their own desktop microfactory, they can capture the value of that production.
The ultimate incentive is environmental and social. Environmentally speaking - recycled plastics (and then other materials in the future) + open source design imply lifetime design - as products can be repaired or upgraded. Ultimately, open source materials production will enable closed loop, local materials cycles based largely on rocks, sunlight, plants, soil, and water. Socially speaking - if companies are producing unhealthy products that destroy the environment - it is only a matter of time until people accept this no more. Production, by this consideration, is likely to go closed loop and responsible. The only likely way for this to happen is by distributed production - assuming that technology is sufficiently advanced to allow small scale production. Ongoing developments in technology support this assumption.
Mechanics of Kits
Kits combine rich information content with production automation on a small scale to enable distributed production. This can happen on the scale of a community-based open source microfactory, or even a mom-and-pop home scale operation. This can happen in cities and in the countryside, as the UPS truck goes everywhere.
The economic model for the Kit may involve a mashup of the following. The producer engages partly in production using the Desktop Microfactory, partly in drop shipping other parts, and preparing good documentation. The customer assembles the products according to instructionals, and possibly goes to the local hardware store to get additional parts.
- Production of parts using the Desktop Microfactory from numerous feedstocks. Circuits can be made. Additive manufacturing could produce in plastic, rubber, glazing, composites. Metals are not included - though they can be readily with the addition of metal 3D printing.
- Drop shipping of additional parts from places like Kit.com or other on-demand production networks
- More complex Circuits may be fabricated online
- Some parts may be gotten at local hardware stores
Existing supply chains (Amazon etc) allow for unprecedented access, and such access is likely to improve with autonomous vehicles coming online. So for practical considerations - we can assume ready access to feedstocks. It will be useful to localize these feedstocks in the future to make them more socially and environmentally conscious, which is likely to happen with open source technology.
Kit.com already works with major supply chains like Amazon and Ebay. Between drop shipping of parts, Desktop Microfactory products, and other sources - a person is in a good position to make their own products.
For this to work, these are some requirements:
- Design must have a low unique parts count to make it easy to build
- Designs have to be verified and quality controlled
- Design must be based on universal standards, so that parts can be sourced readily
- Parts are easy to source in many locations around the world
- Eventually, local supply chains of local feedstocks are created.
- Products have construction set components, such that sourcing is easy and a wide array of products can be made. This reduces overall supplier parts count to reduce sourcing risk.
Let's take the OSE 3D printer as one example. Most parts can be gotten through Kit.com on Amazon and Ebay. However, the quantities purchased may be excessive, in which case a balance must be struck with additional sourcing (either online or in local stores). This means that in order for a customer to receive clear value - the package must be presented with options that are ready to source and fast to build. The 3D printed parts as well as circuits and other parts can be produced in the Desktop Microfactory. Clear instructionals must be presented. Options for one click purchasing via automatic fulfillment must be created - balancing the producer's willingness to produce ready kits vs partial kits. Specific product packages must be created with online shopping baskets - such as full kit vs partial kit vs attendance at a workshop. Specifically for a 3D printer - a full kit may be produced if the frame is made from PVC corners or 2020 extrusions instead of welded or epoxied steel.
Thus, how does the public get engaged in the creation of kits?
- Start by selecting common use and high value products.
- Produce an open source design for that product
- Produce a Proper BOM
- Produce a Kit.com ordering basket
- Produce instructionals.
- Produce a website page for shopping. Website should have properties such as in Open Source Everything Store Specification, and should include renderings, real product images, a promo video, etc.
- Create different package options for full kit, partial kit, or full kit with sourcing from multiple sources.
- For partial kit, make the local purchase options specific.
- The most advanced form of kitting is creating a website that allows for automatic purchases from existing stores using custom APIs that are developed in collaboration with the vendor. There is a lot of room for automation here.
The key to a successful kit product is having a right balance of the following. If you are designing a kit - keep these considerations in mind:
- Valuable product at a good price such that the costs for the producer make the effort worthwhile
- Right balance of one-click shopping vs legwork required of the customer, to provide clear visible value to the customer
- Excellent design and low unique parts count for ease of build - so that the customer has a great experience - as opposed to suffering through a build
- Rewarding build experience - via empowerment of the buyer to make the product their own instead of buying black box products
- Great instructionals and support to make the build successful
- Robust part sourcing - which reqiures max supply chain stability
- Example of a kit in progress - Kits - Superfridge Conversion