Open Source Hardware

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is hardware whose design is made publicly available, allowing anyone to study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. Like open-source software, the "source code" for OSHW—schematics, blueprints, logic designs, and other documentation—is available for modification and redistribution.

The term "open source hardware" refers to tangible artifacts — machines, devices, or other physical things — whose design has been released to the public such that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things. This definition is akin to that of open-source software. The Open Source Hardware Association has provided a specific definition, along with a certification process, for those who want to release their creations as open-source hardware.


  • Arduino: A popular electronics platform based on open-source hardware and software. It's designed for anyone making interactive projects.
  • Raspberry Pi: While not completely open source (some parts of the design, particularly the Broadcom chip, are proprietary), the Raspberry Pi promotes the teaching of basic computer science.
  • Prusa 3D Printers: Open-source 3D printers that have become very popular due to their design and community support.
  • Open Compute Project: Initiated by Facebook, this aims at open-source designs for data center hardware.


  • 2000s: Emergence of the open-source hardware movement with the development of open hardware platforms like Arduino.
  • 2007: The Open Graphics Project, aiming to design an open architecture and standard for graphics cards.
  • 2011: Formation of the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) which started advocating for open-source hardware and later introduced a certification program.
  • 2010s: Rapid growth of open-source hardware projects, from DIY electronics to medical devices and agricultural tools.


  • Collaboration: Multiple people or teams can collaborate on a single design, improving and iterating upon it.
  • Education: Open designs can be used as teaching tools, helping students and enthusiasts understand the underlying mechanisms.
  • Transparency: Open source hardware ensures that the end user knows exactly what they're getting, which can be important for security and trust.
  • Customization: Individuals and companies can take a design and customize it for their specific needs.


  • Monetization: While the designs are open, creating a sustainable business model can be challenging.
  • Complex Regulations: Especially in areas like medical devices, navigating regulations with open-source designs can be difficult.
  • IP Concerns: There's always a risk of intellectual property infringement, either inadvertently or by malicious actors.

See also