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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2021

Rafaella Antoniou*
University of Bath
Romain Pinquié
Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Grenoble INP, G-SCOP, 38000 Grenoble, France
Jean-François Boujut
Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Grenoble INP, G-SCOP, 38000 Grenoble, France
Amer Ezoji
Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Grenoble INP, G-SCOP, 38000 Grenoble, France
Elies Dekoninck
University of Bath
Antoniou, Rafaella, University of Bath, Mechanical Engineering, United Kingdom,


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Open-source hardware (OSH) development is a new design paradigm from a commercial perspective. Openly sharing designs of technical products is a step towards democratising access to new technologies for the benefit of individuals and communities in society. At the core of the open-source hardware definition lies the freedom for anyone to replicate the hardware based on the design. Thus, enabling this freedom is a step towards developing a successful OSH. Previous research supposes that a bill of materials and assembly instructions are enough for this. In this study, we question this assumption and investigate what other factors may influence replicability of an OSH. Using data from a survey and interviews with OSH practitioners, we identify and describe these factors, which relate to the documentation, the design and the context of the person replicating the hardware. Using these insights, we present a diagram of the replication process along with questions the person replicating the hardware would ask to check whether an OSH is replicable. Finally, we synthesise this information into practical advice for OSH projects to increase the replicability of the designs they produce, and thus the likelihood of their project's success.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press


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