The Free Factory, or Zero Marginal Cost Factory, refers to means of production which allow to realize at least one step in the production of an useful good (almost) without marginal costs.
The goal of a Commons Economy is that Free Factories could progressively be created for all relevant tasks in the supply chains of an increasing number of goods. Combining the concept with circular economy structures, we could then aim for zero-price goods.
Most steps in the supply chains of “material” goods need the following “ingredients”:
In a Free Factory, energy has to be produced for almost zero cost, using renewable sources. Labor has to be almost fully automated, sometimes remaining some tasks with low labour-time requirement which would be done by voluntary work. So, once the structure (machinery) is set up, there are zero marginal costs regarding labour and energy.
Materials, in contrast, in a Free Factory aren’t necessarily free. The concept does not mean that a product is produced for free, but that a step in production is done for free. For example, a Free Factory could make tables from wood for free, but the wood itself would not be free until the previous steps in production (wood growing and processing) can also be realized by Free Factories.
Thus, the Free Factory concept is a modular concept. One can distinguish three different goals: