In regards to the openness of the 3D printing space, for both materials and hardware, has anyone heard of the group Everywhere Tech?
Here's their "About" Statement:
Everywhere Tech is a coalition of individuals and organizations intent on bringing open source solutions to those who need them the most. Our mission is to facilitate open source technology transfer to help create resilient communities around the world. We do this by connecting universal open source hardware solutions with real-world needs.
Maybe most relevant, their founder also heads up a group called openmaterials:
A lot of cool stuff here, in fact, I just found the exact light-diffusing acrylic I needed from this post: http://openmaterials.org/materials-101-light-diffusing-acrylic/. They organize their site by material, as well as by "Techniques," "Tools," "Circuits"... Cool stuff.