Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fab Academy: Invention, Intellectual property, and Income

I am a keen participant in open design culture so as such will distribute my final project as a fully open product, so that others may easily collaborate in its development. As the designs we already have for the dinosaurs were gleaned from CNC forums, it is unclear if they are under any license. Certainly they do not have any license information in the files themselves (this could of course have been removed by previous sharers). The raptor in particular appears to be quite a complex kit, implying that it might have once been a proprietary design. I plan therefore to not use that particular dinosaur design (there are probably too many parts to consider in any case), and to continue with the others. I anticipate that these designs will be used as a starting point in any case, and that the final designs will have undergone numerous changes.

In my experience the key barrier to actually achieving a collaborative open project, is in nurturing a community of users around the product. To this end, platforms like Instructables, Make and Thingiverse can help in getting your project seen and criticised. However, I have been quick to use these early on in the development process before, and found that my energy and interest in the project has waned before having achieved much collaboration with others. Indeed my most successful in this respect has been the first fully open product that I published, the Ten Green shelving, which was essentially a finished product when published.

So, my intentions will be develop the dinosaur kit to a basic finished level before promoting online, if only to make most efficient use of my time, and others' attention spans. In terms of income, I am happy to make some from markups on kits that I sell. However I would only be able to make them cost efficient if making a batch, so if I gauge that there is interest in buying kits, I will look at instigating pre-orders or a crowd funding project, or take orders from craft retailers in Glasgow. The kit may well also make a good basis for workshops that I can deliver in the future, providing some income, as well as educational and social benefit to the participants as a means of experiencing digital fabrication.

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