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Specialty parts suppliers for open-hardware tools

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A possible open hardware business model is to provide specialty parts and tools that can't be found elsewhere[@pearce2017Emerging Business Models for Open Source Hardware]. For example, even if a project is open hardware it may still require a crystal which is hard to grow, or parts in a material hard to source.

In this discussion, however, there are some clear problems. First, if the custom parts are also open-hardware there is no way of protecting ourselves from the competition in a traditional business model. If they are not open-hardware, then we are building a traditional business and the open component is only anecdotal.

OpenPCR is an interesting case, since they have an open machine and some of their reactives are openly licensed, to prevent vendor lock-in.

In the software world this would be equivalent to what Wordpress does, for example. To tool is open-source but Wordpress.com offers the top-notch hosting, which would be too hard to configure for a lot of people. It's slightly borderline with Selling open-hardware services.


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