Open Design Foundation

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Open Design Foundation



"Recognizing that mechanical design might benefit from a similar open exchange of information, the authors established the Open Design Foundation (ODF) as a non-profit corporation in 1999. The ODF seeks to support open design, evaluate open design licenses, distribute documentation for open designs via the Internet, and sponsor projects. The ODF maintains the Open Design Definition and evaluates license agreements suitable for use with design documentation and manufactured artifacts derived from open design projects.

The ODF conducts activities primarily through Internet services, which include a web site ( for general information and links to project web pages. Additional services include basic tools for online collaboration such as an email-based list server with archiving system and a product data management system (PDM) for exchanging data. The ODF also provides instructional documents for techniques used in open design.

In addition to these services, the ODF recognizes the need for foundational infrastructure projects. These projects can help reduce barriers to participation in open design projects. For instance, access to specific software should not prevent any designer or manufacturer from leading or contributing to new projects or building an openly designed artifact." (


"Shortly after the launch of the Open Hardware Certification Program, David Freeman announced the Open Hardware Specification Project (OHSpec), another attempt at licensing hardware components whose interfaces are available publicly and of creating an entirely new computing platform as an alternative to proprietary computing systems (Freeman 1998). Also in 1998, Troy Benjegerdes made public his intention of starting an entrepreneurial venture to apply the principles of open source software to the design and development of hardware (Benjegerdes 1998)⁠. On the same year, Reinoud Lamberts launched Open Design Circuits, a website dedicated to collaboratively designing low cost and open design circuits (Lamberts 1998)⁠. And between 1998 and 1999, Graham Seaman made several attempts at defining open source hardware (Seaman)⁠.

In early 1999, Dr. Sepehr Kiani (a PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT), Dr. Ryan Vallance and Dr. Samir Nayfeh joined efforts to apply the open source philosophy to machine design applications. Together they established the Open Design Foundation (ODF) as a non-profit corporation, and set out to develop an Open Design Definition (Wikipedia).

Despite this initial burst of activity around the nascent concept of [[Open Source Hardware, most of the initiatives mentioned above faded out within a year or two and only by the mid 2000s would open source hardware again become a hub of activity." (

More Information

See Open Design