Economic Impact of DIY Home Manufacturing of Consumer Products with Low-cost 3D Printing from Free and Open Source Designs

  • Joshua Pearce Western University
  • Jun-Yu Qian Michigan Tech
Keywords: additive manufacturing, distributed manufacturing, DIY, recycling, decentralized manufacturing, peer production


Several studies have indicated potential of producing consumers digitally reproducing open source designs with 3-D printers to offset purchasing commercial products. With over 2 million desktop 3-D printers being purchased per year, the impact on the existing industry could be substantial, but is still unknown. To begin to determine the economic impact created by proliferation of open source digital designs for 3-D printed products, this study analyzes the top 100 most popular designs posted on the YouMagine repository. The download substitution value is calculated based on Amazon prices of comparable products to estimate the potential savings those designs could generate. Case studies are provided on open source equivalent products, non-commercial products of high value to the consumer, and products for 3-D printing users. The means of percentage savings using commercial filament, commercial pellets, recycled commercial pellets, and self-recycled consumer plastics are 82%, 94%, 97% and 98%, respectively. The potential for laterally-scaled wealth generation in a circular economy with recyclebots, 3-D printing and sharing open designs in the US from household plastic waste is over $359 billion/year for offset filament purchases or over $7 trillion/year for products. If adoption of household-level DIY digital manufacturing of open source designs becomes widespread open business models are needed.


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How to Cite
Pearce, J., & Qian, J.-Y. (2022). Economic Impact of DIY Home Manufacturing of Consumer Products with Low-cost 3D Printing from Free and Open Source Designs. European Journal of Social Impact and Circular Economy, 3(2), 1-24.