The rapid proliferation of digital fabrication tools, twinned with the sharing power of the web has led to a new era of design and making, built on principles of accessibility and inclusivity. As the barrier to entry traditionally imposed on these domains is reduced they become more accessible. Its signifies the fall of the professional, and the rise of the amateur.
The digitisation of design through CAD has given way to a sharing and distribution process much like that seen in software. Design files can be shared as software, before being interpreted by the appropriate digital fabrication tool and manufactured. As this happens, Open Source principles are transitioning into the realm of design, disrupting accepted conventions, giving rise to community orientated design systems.
Open Tools is a platform for the sharing of making tools, mechanisms and contraptions designed to carry out a particular task or function. Anyone can publish their ‘open tool’ with file downloads, instruction guides, photos and videos. A peer to peer rating system allows users to build a picture of trusted content. All hosted ‘tools’ are designed to be manufactured via CNC milling (the cutting of sheet material by a computer controlled drill) or 3D printing. Such machines are common across FabLabs, TechShops and other independent maker spaces, allowing members total freedom to produce anything found on the Open Tools platform.
The first Open Source ‘tools’ to be hosted include a CNC milled wood lathe, work bench and disc sander all created by Josh Worley.