Open Source Circular Economy

Makers aware of circular economy

Open Source for Products and Production is one of the big promises for our future and Circular Economy is one of our biggest challenges. Let’s combine them and make them work with each other.


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Open source for hardware & design is an emerging trend. Similar to open-source-software in open-source-hardware source-files get shared openly in order to enable everybody to study, modify, build and redistribute existing projects. It is about new forms and patterns of innovation and collaboration. The field is still young and has still some major questions to solve. One is: How to create, publish and organize source-files for hardware for more connected and effective collaboration?


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Circular economy is an idea for a sustainable future and economy that thinks ecological and works without waste. Products, production and distribution are designed for 100% recycling and to protect the environment. To make this happen we have to invent and reinvent a lot of things. Next to new product-designs we need new patterns and tools for communication and organization in our economy. How to allow our complex economy to collaborate in circles?


What are good ways to share information about physical objects to collaborate on them openly? And: What tools and communication will help us to create and maintain a circular economy? IPO brings these two questions together and looks for synergies between them. It is about developing communication methods and tools for an open circular economy. Can open-source-hardware and circular-economy be both pushed forward while we make them work for each other?



The idea in the center of IPO is to take the simple standard of the IPO Model – Input, Process, Output – that is widely used in system-analysis and life cycle assessment (LCA)/eco-management (e.g. ISO 14040) and bring it to the world of open-source-hardware documentation. In life-cycle-assessment complex production processes are broken down to simpler and manageable steps – modules. Every module has:


like materials, components & energy


that transform inputs into outputs


like products and byproducts

I-P-O modules.

Listing all outputs makes waste visible and is a pre-step to connect outputs to input-sides, to connect modules to chains (and maybe circles).

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I-P-O documentation helps to monitor, communicate and connect flows of energy, materials, components and (by)products

The IPO Tables projects goal is to bring and experiment the I-P-O standard for creating documentation and connecting information to the world of makers and open-source-hardware. And it also wants to bring the ideas of openness to the world of LCA – imagine with openness to do LCA not just for one factory but whole networks of factories.

The IPO Tables project supports and creates experiments, projects, events and teaches about open source and circular economy. It is an open project. Get in touch.

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