How to make money with Digital DIY open machine designs

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The problem is…

many people are not aware of how people can make money with Digital DIY, while there are interesting cases that show how you can do that, while still sharing he designs and project documentation even to a level that others are able to replicate it autonomously.

The proposed solution might apply when

people are willing to do things differently and consider exploring what alternative business or sustainability models are being used by successful Digital DIY communities.

The solution proposed is…

To develop an open business model approach, where knowledge is shared (through an adequate licensing policy), revenue is not based in patents or copyright licensing, at least a considerable amount of the development work is shared by peer producers ("collaborative making") and governance is participatory and/or allows replication. These four elements are the four pillars of an open business model approach and can be found in many commons-based open community projects. Its is therefore of interest to explore existing cases and draw lessons from how these have become sustainable.

The expected outcome is…

to construct a collaborative community where people can freely contribute and have the means to sustain themselves.

Other information


Using an open or free licensing policy, or at least extensively use free and openly licensed works could be considered challenging as one suffers the risk of being replicated. Instead of seeing this possibility as a threat, it can be conceived as a strength: community members often feel more inclined to contribute voluntarily to a project, where its leaders cannot exclusively exploit these voluntary contributions, but all, in principle, have the same rights. When the projects work and tools are properly documented and published under free licenses, then all members basically have the same rights. If the way a community is governed doesn’t satisfy a sufficient part of the community, this part may consider to replicate or fork the project and continue under an other name. This is usually not a desirable outcome, as the energy is split between two communities instead of one, but its mere possibility forces project leaders to carefully listen to their users and keep them happy.

Significant influencing factors

Designing an organisation along the four pillars of an open business model requires a participatory, co-creation methodology. Such model seeks to align the interests of potential participants in order to maximes the potential collaboration and contributions.


  • The Open Business Model cases studies of the Digital DIY project have documented 14 cases of open source hardware technologies that demonstrate how viable economy ecosystems can thrive without patenting and with sharing knowledge openly and freely.

Related Patterns

Use Design Sharing Platforms

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