Karl Marx famously argued in ‘Das Kapital’ that to achieve freedom from the slavery of capitalism, the worker must own the means of production. Perhaps that day is edging closer. Today Wikifactory, billing itself as a ‘Github for hardware’, announces it has closed a $3 million funding round taking it to a total of$4.5m, pre-series A. The investors are unnamed, but characterized as “impact investors”. The collaboration platform claims it allows someone to make almost anything remotely.

The ‘impact’ aspect of Wikifactory’s playbook is that it involves less shipping and less costly inventories being required.

With the investment, the company will build a ‘quality-assured’ manufacturing marketplace, as well as mirrored servers in China to open up access to its hardware capital, Shenzhen . Wikifactory is available in four languages right now and is set to expand to 20 after it raised a Series A funding round next year.

In addition, its new Collaborative CAD Tool with in-built chat means designers, engineers, manufacturers and enterprises can collaborate remotely on virtually any CAD model, from concept through to finished prototype.

This allows product developers to review and discuss 3D models in over thirty file formats in real-time. The idea is to democratize access to normally expensive product lifecycle management (PLM) software.

The startup says that since May 2019 some 70,000 product developers in 190 countries have been using Wikifactory build robotics, electric vehicles and drones, agri-tech and sustainable energy appliances, lab equipment and 3D printers, smart furniture and biotech fashion materials as well as medical supplies including vital PPE and ventilators when there were global supply shortages.

Nicolai Peitersen, co-founder and executive chairman of Wikifactory said: “Wide-scale global collaboration to make physical things is happening both for open-source and for proprietary product development. The global manufacturing industry output, worth USD 35 trillion, is finally having its web moment. Online collaboration and distributed production is becoming mainstream. We’re calling it the internet of production.”

He added that with global supply chains stretched because of the pandemic, the need for a viable, alternative online infrastructure to prototype and produce products locally, to a high standard, and sustainably “has never been more relevant and necessary.”