Public Invention Uses OpenBOM™ To Manage Development of Open and Free VentMon To Help Developing Ventilators For Rural India and South America

Public Invention
Public Invention

The Non-profit 501c3 was incorporated in 2018 for the purpose of inventing open-source devices that serve the public good. A noble cause that has since served many folks in need around the world.

OpenBOM is proud to support them!

Founder and President Robert Read comes from the corporate world. With a PhD in Computer Science and a software architect, he left the corporate lifestyle to start Public Invention. The organization consists of a variety of individuals and groups, most engaged in the design of medical and quality-of-life devices which serve the underserved communities of the world.

Robert refers to himself as the head invention coach. Advising and mentoring Inventor recruits and invention teams in specific inventions. 

“Public Invention designs are intended to help the under-served and to be manufactured in the region where they are to be used, often in impoverished regions of the world, using local suppliers, firms, customs, and methods,” says Robert.

It is important to note that Public Inventions designs are just that – public. There is no intellectual property ownership, or patents, or commercial manufacturing involved. Anyone can visit their website, download a design, and build it. No strings attached!

“Our VentMon product is a ventilator monitor to aid in the production of ventilators and is designed in such a way that allows it to be manufactured in rural India or South America by any firm without legal strings attached”, he says. “The bill of materials must be sufficiently portable and extendable to allow manufacturer in a wide range of regions, with a wide range of available components and processes”.

OpenBOM allows a single product BOM to be localized internationally based on the region in which the item is being manufactured.

Nathaniel Bechard is a lead engineer on the PolyVent project—a pandemic ventilator that is rigid and easy to manufacture. 

“We are empowering low/mid-income countries to create ventilators based on local supply chains and tailored to local needs and conditions”, he says.

“We post a complete design to our website which anyone can download, a detailed bill of materials created with OpenBOM is included.”

“The idea is to standardize the design in Autodesk Fusion 360 then make the BOM adapt to the region”, says Nathaniel. “OpenBOM helps us do just that.”

A video of the PolyVent team is here: 

While the teams take a very scientific approach to the design, Robert Read still needs to run the company and likes how OpenBOM helps him solve several key business needs.

“As a 501c3 we need to account for everything we buy. OpenBOM helps us track items and vendors, account for expenses, and reduce waste”, he says.

“Managing items and costs across our three primary sites in Germany, Canada, and Texas is easier with a SaaS solution, OpenBOM is our single source of truth.”

As an engineer myself, I cannot help but have my favorite Public Invention design – Project #41 – The E. Coli Soup Thermos is it! Inspired by the folks at Engineers Without Borders, this device uses an inexpensive Petri film to culture E. Coli and is powered entirely via a USB port. Unlocking the ability to easily test water and other food sources for E. Coli in the poorest regions of the world!

The Soup Thermos and all their other designs are available on the Public Invention website.

To learn more about Public Invention please visit

To learn more about OpenBOM please visit

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