Distributed Factory Website Requirements document:

Distributed Manufacturing Website Requirements

Document Owners:

Nathan Parker - nathan@makernet.work

Christina Rebel - christina@wikifactory

Background 1

Requirements 2

Designer-Side Requirements 2

Fabricator-Side Requirements 2

Matchmaking Requirements 2

Publishing Requirements 2

Existing Services 3


We will need distributed design and manufacturing services across the globe to make open source medical supplies for COVID19 response.

A single hub is needed to host open medical product designs and hardware so to enable collaboration and manage iteration on such designs as well as developing the documentation to support their rapid prototyping and manufacturing, through to collect requests for manufacturing (currently 3D printing for prototyping, but soon other manufacturing processes for production), sign individual fabricators up, and alert fabricators when there are localized requests for services (or global requests for stockpiling). This hub should intelligently and consensually matchmake developers to fabricators, batch various types of design files into packages, and store packages for publication later if desired (or offer simple integration for publication elsewhere).


Designer-Side Requirements

From a design collaboration perspective:

  • User and organisation profiles, with email and platform notifications
  • Upload CAD (ideally STEP, minimally STL). Including PDF, DXF, video, photo and code.
  • View, inspect and feedback to CAD Models of broad range of formats online, including mobile and tablet
  • Version control of design files, to ensure easy access and restoration of design files and source.
  • Upload and append documentation (ideally in markdown) to include the BOM, specifications and all further supporting information that can facilitate the iteration, prototyping and fabrication of the designs
  • Source feedback from a range of relevant stakeholders on the design and hardware
  • Assign issues and tasks to a team and community to facilitate iteration and prototyping.
  • Additional: Blog posts and Forum Threads

From a production collaboration perspective:

  • Select manufacturing services and materials. 3D printing will need a comprehensive selection menu of materials and processes.
  • Input name and address, create login?
  • Input description of what’s being made and any notes
  • Input desired quantities
  • Input required date/timeline
  • Select local region if not designers address
  • Directly connect to fabricator match

Fabricator-Side Requirements

  • Input fabrication equipment available
  • Input address and contact info
  • Input rough capacity of fabrication?
  • Receive fabrication requests via email or digest
  • Have a mechanism for accepting requests
  • Directly connect to designer match
  • Have a way to toggle if they’re available or not

Health Care Provider Requirements

  • Health care providers (hospitals, clinics, etc) need a way to search from among vetted / tested designs that are field ready, select the ones they need and how much they need of them, and be matched with places that can start producing them.
  • Ideally we have a single link, with an obvious and easy to remember URL that we can broadcast to health care providers worldwide. They would be asked for basic login info, with optional questions about location, type of practice, etc, but that should all be stuff that we can collect later or leave aside, since the last thing any front line medic wants to be doing right now is filling out some more forms.
  • After quick onboarding process, they should see a projects view, with broad categories for browsing (i.e. ventilators, PPE, sterilization equipment, etc), and a search bar.
  • From any given project they should be able to
    • add it to a bucket of favorited designs
    • make design feedback that is flagged as from a medical professional and is directed to the team managing that project
    • Submit a request for that design to be fabricated (stretch goal is have “cart” functionality like with normal ecommerce where they can put a bunch of different designs into a cart and request all of them even if they’re being made in different places)
      • Request for production goes to new interface, which asks for more detailed information on specific location, product specs where options are available such as material options, and quantity desired.
      • This then needs the matchmaking features we discussed above, so these requests can be matched to an appropriate source.

Matchmaking Requirements

  • Connect based on match of requested processes, locations and possibly lead times
  • Connect more fabricators to designers than just the one, in case fabricators fail or are unreliable

Publishing Requirements

  • If designs are successful they will need to be replicated. Figure out a way to capture and display entire final-revision design packages that have been successfully made.
  • Allow commenting/discussion and possibly rating
  • Allow administrative oversight over posted designs

Existing Distributed Manufacturing Services

A quick market survey reveals a few different categories of existing services in this space, described below, with a few representative/prominent examples.

Design Marketplaces with Connected Fabrication

These services offer hosting and discovery of designs, in some cases with a connection to one or more self-serve fabrication houses. They’re good at what they do, but their workflows assume the part designer and the part user are separate people, and the fabrication is either done by the part user or the connected commercial service.

With the exception of GrabCAD, none of the above marketplaces serve as a design collaboration and product development platform that can enable the sharing of projects in such a way that they are intended to be iterated and prototyped.

Self-serve Fabrication Houses (3D Printing/Laser-cutting/Waterjet)

These are purely commercial fabrication houses, no design hosting, no user-to-user marketplace, just self-serve online ordering of parts from CAD files. Some may also offer more hands-on design or consulting services in addition to self-serve fabrication.

Collaborative Design & Distributed Manufacturing Services

Like the design marketplaces, these services host already-designed products that potential users can fabricate themselves, but they also support the reverse direction, where designers connect with individual fabricators that might be able to prototype or manufacture their designs.

Both MakerNet and Wikifactory have a GitHub-like paradigm for project management. MakerNet uses GitLab (and integrates with their user accounts) while Wikifactory have developed their own back-end collaboration infrastructure for digital fabrication to tackle the limitations that git has when it comes to version control and collaboration on 3D geometries (integrated with social accounts like Github, Twitter, Facebook, Google and including Fablabs.io).

Wikifactory is a social platform for collaborative product development that enables product developers to design together, prototype faster and produce smarter. Whilst inspired by git, we’ve developed a back-end infrastructure that opens up access to the advanced product development tools used by industry to help teams come together online to work on product design and hardware. This includes version controlled project repositories, a documentation editor and an issue tracking system. But beyond a set of collaboration tools for product development, Wikifactory is extending the project repositories with the capacity to generate prototyping and production orders with a planned release by Q2 for on-demand distributed production.

Moreover, Wikifactory is a community of over 20K designers, engineers and creative problem solvers from over 130 countries. In being more than a set of collaboration tools but a social platform, we have sought to strengthen existing communities (such as Fablabs.io), project communities (i.e. OttoDIY) or interest group networks (i.e. Ceramic 3D printing) together to grow on Wikifactory.

For a full breakdown of our features, please take a look at our Features Page,

Sample WikiFactory projects

DEMO Project by Wikifactory - https://wikifactory.com/+wikifactory/wikifactory-demo-project

Otoscope by MOST - https://wikifactory.com/+most/3d-printed-otoscope

DIY Centrifuge by ProgressTH - https://wikifactory.com/@progressth/diybio-mini-centrifuge

Wikifactory Recommendations

Considering all the threads, discussions and conversations happening, we think it is fantastic that there is such a drive to make this happen.

We believe that the natural next step is to make an assessment of the current designs, and arrive at those which are most viable/applicable to build communities of practice around.

There is the additional value in drafting a product development story that can empower the community to take designs in planning, to design, to prototype and to testing. If we agree on phasing, we can draw attention and contribution to the stage each project is in (and equally manage expectations).

We might not need to breakdown the exact testing requirements, but we can draw inspiration from initiatives like Field Ready in their Readiness Assessments, for example. See this example Waterhose clamp or Latrine Rails project on Wikifactory. As well as the work of Careables, in how they have engaged the range of stakeholders required to realise open medical devices.

When the community has sourced and assessed which projects are to be pushed forward in open innovation, Wikifactory offers to help set a collaboration infrastructure where a community can be invited into to contribute. We would recommend that this also serves to review how we can translate the product development story into Wikifactory’s tools, so that we are clear how to incentivise community contribution.

Whilst we may not have distributed production features currently released, our approach is to build on our repositories with an extendible system where existing on-demand manufacturing services can be plugged in. We are in active development of such, and we can make sure that the projects that advance the furthest here can take advantage of our testing.