More Raspberry Pi manufacturing moves back to the UK

The credit card-sized Linux computers are now largely UK-made, according to owner of Pi-maker element14.

More of the production of the Raspberry Pi has now been shifted from China to the UK.

UK distributor Premier Farnell, which owns Raspberry Pi-maker element14, announced on Friday that 100 percent of element14's manufacturing is now back in the UK, marking the completion of a transition away from Chinese manufacturing it began last September . To bring production to the UK, Premier Farnell signed a deal with Sony to build the device at a contract electronic manufacture facility in Pencoed, South Wales.

The Sony facility was originally contracted to make up to 30,000 of the $35 Model B devices. The Raspberry Pi foundation recently launched another lower-powered and cheaper $25 Model A device for the European market that is distributed by Premier Farnell and its other main distributor, RS Components.

The Model B is a bare-bones board, designed for hackers and modders, and comes without usual PC features such as an operating system and storage, but is designed to plug into a keyboard or TV.

Since launching to huge demand last February, element14 has distributed over 500,000 Raspberry Pi devices, with hundreds of schools taking up the pocket-sized Linux computers to teach computing and spur interest in engineering.

"The business stated back in September its intention to bring production of the computer back to its home, the UK, and now after a period of transition we are delighted to announce that all production is in Wales," Claire Doyle, global head of Raspberry Pi at element14, said in a statement.

"We believe that a UK creation should be produced in its home country and since partnering with Sony UK Tec we have been delighted with the quality and the commitment they have shown in developing the product."

Richard Holway, chairman of analysts TechMarketView, gave element14's 'onshoring' the thumbs up. The Raspberry Pi holds potential to address not only clouds hanging over the UK's manufacturing sector, he said, but also a looming ICT skills crisis. 

"There is undoubtedly a growing trend both here and in the US for 'onshoring' as costs in the previously low-cost production centres in China and elsewhere have grown and as the exchange rate move against imports," he wrote