Design Sharing Platforms
This page is a brief review of online platforms that allow people to share hardware designs. Our interest lies primarily in platforms that help establish a hardware design commons, while there are also platforms that encourage people to sell there designs instead of sharing them.
Platforms that encourage people to organise in communities and share their designs in the form of a commons vary much. As a minimum one would expect a hardware design to be available under equal conditions to all, under a free license, and in an editable format (such as is common in that particular sector). If we really talk about a hardware design commons, the platform should facilitate replication and modification. Therefore it should cover decisions that went into the design of subassemblies, how these fit into larger systems, documentation of how to build and use the resulting object, source code etc. And provide appropriate licenses for each type of work: for the designs, documentation, software.
It is clear that most platforms today don't cover all of that, but some more than others. Some are dedicated to a specific domain, like electronics, or space development. Some platforms are controlled by one company while others are governed more like a commons. These aspects enhance or limit the users' freedoms.
In this page we seek to help users choose the platform that aligns best with ethical values and maximises user freedom. Therefore we build a list of the current platforms and indicate their main aspects. Read also other reviews and comparatives of design platforms, like the one by Matt Maier.
As there are many different online platforms out there, dedicated to hardware designs, we first want to narrow it down a bit. We distinguish those platforms that encourage sharing designs and help people building communities around a hardware design commons, that cover Free/Libre Hardware designs and Open Source Hardware. And - as a reference. we also present a list of other platforms that build markets around the designs. For an explanation of the terms used in the tables, see the legend at the bottom.
Platforms for the Hardware Design Commons
|Online platforms for sharing designs|
|Name||Slogan||Domain(s)||Ownership||Sustainability model||Software||Software license||Technical features||Encourage sharing||Comments|
|formats||rendering||API||version history||friending||other features||licenses||reputation features|
|Openbuilds||Dream it - Build it - Share it||3D, electronics||OpenBuilds Part Store||Margins on parts sales||Unknown||Unknown||SketchUp, gCode, STL, dwg, obj, jpg, doc, , etc||No||No||follow||forums||CC||Ratings, likes, views, user profile||Share a part;
OpenBuilds Store incl FairShare program
|Youmagine||Share Your Imagination||3D||YouMagine 3D BV||?||Unknown||Unknown||STL, AMF, SCAD, JSCAD, OBJ, DAE, OFF, 3DS, PLY||yes||no||follow||collections, ideas, comments, direct message, QR print out||CC, GPL, LGPL, BSD||rate, favourite, # downloads, user profile||Partnership with Ultimaker|
|Open Hardware Repository||a place on the web for electronics designers at experimental physics facilities to collaborate on open hardware designs||Electronics||CERN||CBPP/community||Chili Project||GPL v2||any||no||yes (git / wiki)||no||per project: mailing list, git repository, wiki, news, documents, issue tracker||CERN OHL, GPL, LGPL, TAPR OHL||user profile, activity statistics, highlighted projects||community encouraging freedom & openness in electronics|
|Fritzing||Electronics made easy||Electronics||University of Applied Science Potsdam||CBPP/Donations||Fritzing||GPLv3||Fritzing, Gerber, SVG, PDF, XML, Spice||Breadboard, Schematic, PCB, Code||no||no||Forum, Sharing, Autorouting||CC BY/BY-SA/BY-NC/BY-NC-SA||user profile||services for PCB production, parts, ...|
|Bld3r||A 3D Printing Social Network||3D||private||CBPP/Community||Bld3r||AGPL||Any file: upload / link / torrent||no||no||yes||printshelves (to print & printed), comments, wiki||free and NC licenses||user profile, ratings of user, objects, comments||Commons based community|
|Yeggi||Search engine for printable 3D models||3D||yeggi UG (Ltd. Germany)||Advertising||unknown||unknown||any||no||no||no||lists, tag notifications||any 3D model from the web||popularity||search engine|
|ThingTracker||A proposal on sharing designs and projects in the maker community.||3D, electronics, any thing||Gary Hodgson c.s.||CBPP||Specification on Github||no license specified||any file||any license||a distributed protocol for a thing network|
|Open Design Engine||Web portal to publish the entire design process for open source hardware projects||Electronics, 3D||Mach30 Foundation for Space development||CBPP/Donations||Redmine||GPLv2||any file||no||yes||no||Wiki, Forum, Roadmap, Gantt, Issue tracker, News||Clear distinction between Hardware/Software/Documentation licenses||user profile||Complete design process, OSHW only|
|Makeystreet||Stuff that a maker would find interesting||Electronics, 3D||Alex J V (OSHW maker)||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||any document, image or video (upload or link)||no||yes||yes||groups, assemblies, subassemblies, insights, forum, private/public projects||no license||userprofile, reviews, contribution stats||governance & licenses should be clarified|
|Libre3D||Libre3D Free & Open Source||3D||Informal Community||CBPP||Libre3D Renderer||LGPL||SCAD, STL, PDF, Images, Blender, Doc, XLS, ZIP, Videos||yes (SCAD, STL, videos)||no||no||contact, showcase||CC licenses, GPL, MIT, BSD, PD||user profile||strong relation w/ RepRap|
|Ohanda||4x Freedoms = Unlimited & Unconditional||Electronics, 3D||Informal Community||CBPP/Donations||Unknown||-||HTML||no||no||no||no||any free license||producer page||trademark protection|
|Thingiverse||Digital Designs for Physical Objects||3D||MakerBot Industries, LLC||Sell MakerBot printers||Unknown||Unknown||stl, obj, thing, scad, amf, dae, 3ds, x3d, blend, ply, dxf, ai, svg, cdr, ps, eps, epsi, sch, brd||yes||public||no||follow||collections, customizer, apps, API||CC/GPL/LGPL/BSD||user profile, likes, made one, watch, remix||Shout out QR tag|
|DIYdrones||The leading community for personal UAVs||UAVs||Chris Anderson/3D Robotics||CBPP||Unknown||Unknown||no||no||yes||blog, forums, groups||CC BY||profile page||3D Robotics store integrated|
|Wevolver||Build Technology Together||3D, electronics||company||Sells supplies||Based on Python/Django||Older version under AGPL||any||no||no||yes||project teams, subassemblies, forking||any||network diagrams of contributor relations||unstructured license info|
|Instructables||DIY How To Make Instructions||electronics||Company: Autodesk||freemium: pro membership + CBPP||unknown||unknown||any||no||no||follow||collections, collaboration, forums, groups, faqs||CC, GPL, APL,PD and none||user profile, favourites, featured, "I Made it"|
|Hackaday.com||Fresh Hacks Every Day||electronics||Hackaday hackers group||ads, store||WordPress||GPL||any||no||no||yes||submit tips||proprietary||blog posts are made by closed group|
|Hackaday.io||electronics||Hackaday hackers group||CBPP||unknown||unknown||any||no||no||follow||"wire" of messages, components, build instructions, team, motivation||no license||user profile|
|Solderpad||electronics||a place to share, discover and collaborate on electronic projects.|
Platforms for Design Marketplaces
Here follow just a few wellknown platforms that favour the sale of designs over commons-based forms of knowledge sharing.
|Online platforms for sharing designs|
|Name||Slogan||Domain(s)||Ownership||Bus. model||Software||Software license||Technical features||Encourage sharing||Added value||Comments|
|formats||rendering||version history||friending||other features||default license||reputation features||machining service||market place|
|Shapeways||Shop Design Sell||3D||Company: Shapeways BV||Charges for 3D printing||Unknown||Unknown||STL, OBJ, X3D, DAE, Collada or VRML97/2 (WRL)||no||follow||no sharing||Twitter, FB||Many materials||Users can have their shop||Not focused at sharing designs but selling products|
|Ponoko||Get Your Product Ideas Custom Made By Our Designers & Robots.||Ponoko Ltd||Charges for lasercutting and 3D printing||Unknown||Unknown||EPS, SVG, STL, DAE, VRML97||no||no||no||user shop, showroom, contact||CC BY||user profile, comments||yes||yes|
|3D FileMarket||A growing 3D Printing Community||3D||private||Advertising, commissions on model sales||unknown||unknown||no||no||no||non-free||peer rating, view and download statistics||no||models can be purchased (20% margin for platform)||Marketplace|
|Threeding||3D Printing Marketplace||3D||Company (based in Bulgaria)||Commission & 3D printing||Unknown||Unknown||STL, WRL||yes||no||no||printability check, wishlist||non-free||user profile, peer rating||yes||yes|
|Etsy||Your place to buy and sell things handmade||3D objects and models||private||Sales commission||unknown||unknown||no||no||yes||reviews||non-free||favourites, treasures, comments||no||yes||market place of unique objects|
|SproutForm||Connecting maker communities with brands||3D|
To be added
- Name and URL
- Ownership: private (company name), commons, informal community
- Sustainability model: how is the platform sustained economically? by membership fees, donations, freemium services, ... CBPP refers to the common model of commons-based peer production, based on voluntary contributions
- Platform software: Name & URL
- Platform software license
- Technical features:
- Allowed CAD formats: STL, GCode, ...
- online rendering
- Is there a public API or another tool to open access the repositories data available? (Yes, No, Other (a non-free tool)))
- version history: is there a versioning system included in the platform?: yes/no
- friending: enables users to become friends/followers/contacts: yes/no
- other features: groups/teams, collections, forum, wiki, ...
- Encourages sharing:
- licenses: the license options for people to share their designs under
- reputation features: like user profile, peer rating mechanisms, ...
- added value:
- machining services: 3D print, lasercut, CNC, ...
- marketplace: where users can sell and purchase designs
Blogs, Artciles about this study
See a summary blog at the DiDIY.eu website.