Digital inventory outsourcing = open, collaborative making?

From Fabbaloo, an introduction to two companies that are making "digital inventory" a reality:

  • the basic idea of digital inventory is to maintain a digital, rather than physical inventory of spare parts to reduce costs. Just 3D print the parts when you require them. Two companies have recently taken steps in that direction
  • 3YOURMIND has developed a service that a company could use to identify existing part designs that could be 3D printed, and their partnership with EOS should bring much profit to both companies and their clients in this endeavor.
  • Another one is UPS, who recently published a concept for a digital inventory where their existing logistics system could quickly deliver the 3D printed parts.
  • another company, "Spare Parts 3D" in Singapore, is going farther. They:
    • select 3D printable parts from a client's existing spare parts catalog
    • create digital models for those parts, if they don't already exist
    • provide an on-demand production of spare parts on a "distributed network of 3D printers"

The DiDIY project take on "digital inventory"

On one hand, it is easy to predict that, once certified 3D printable digital models of spare parts will have been created, sooner or later some of them will also be illegally duplicated and made available online. This will create an "offer" of corresponding physical spare parts that, from every point of view but that of distribution, will not be false, or counterfeit. For all practical purpose, if made with the same materials and adequate machinery, those parts may be be 100% as "authentic", reliable and so on... as the "official" ones. Of course, it is quite hard now to foresee how much, in practice, this fact will impact the bottom line of the original creators and providers of those parts.

On the other hand, it is interesting to imagine what would happen if companies like this "Spare Parts 3D" made available their services and infrastructures also for distributed, on-demand fabrication of original, Open Source, that is 100% legal, spare parts for original Open Source products. What would happen, for example, if original, guaranteed, spare parts or entire assembly kits of washing machines like the "Increvable" , which is designed to last 50 years, were easily and legally available everywhere? What would the impact be of such models on the traditional washing machine market?

PS: you are welcome to discuss this and related issues in the workshop on "Digital DIY and production" at our Final Conference!