Dominic Muren on the Ecological Advantages of Open Hardware Manufacturing

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Video part one and part two


Via Shareable’s Neal Gorenflo:

“We’ve talked about open hardware before, but not the energy saving advantages of it. We’ve focused more on the democratization of manufacturing. But in the video, Dominic Muren argues that open hardware is also as a vastly superior manufacturing strategy from an energy conservation standpoint and therefore is more appropriate in an age of global warming and energy decline.

And while he doesn’t use the term, the crux of his argument hinges on the concept of embodied energy or emergy. Emergy refers to all the energy used in the making of an object, from design through distribution. Electronics devices like the iPhone have extremely high emergy because of the resource intensiveness and engineering complexity of electronics manufacturing.

When you hold an iPhone, you’re holding something with tremendous embodied energy. Therefore, it’s extremely wasteful to simply melt them down to their raw materials at end of life. Instead, it makes more sense from an emergy perspective to design such complex devices for modularity and reuse modular components in new devices. This calls for a platform approach, which is evident in the product line of Bug Labs.

This is a new perspective for me because I previously only thought of sharing and reuse in terms of how they reduce demand for new objects. Sharing and reuse also conserve the energy that has already been invested in an object and the energy that would be needed to dispose and recycle it.” (