Raspberry Pi manufacturing comes home as production shifts to UK

A major deal will see a Sony factory in Wales crank out thousands of the Linux mini-computers, proving that not all low-cost electronics need be made in China.
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

A significant proportion of Raspberry Pi mini-computers are set to be manufactured in the UK, after one of the device's distributors struck a deal with Sony.

Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi will shift production of some of its units to Wales. Image: Raspberry Pi

Under the deal announced on Thursday, a Sony contract electronic manufacture (CEM) facility in Wales will make up up to 30,000 of the $35 mini-computers per month for one of Raspberry Pi's two distributors, Premier Farnell - shifting the bulk of its manufacturing from China to the UK. The agreement should create around 30 new jobs, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

"The temptation is always to push manufacturing to a low-cost region, but I think with the right attention to detail there's no reason British manufacturing can't compete in a global marketplace," Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation told ZDNet on Thursday. "It shows that British manufacturing can be competitive."

Sony's CEM facility in Pencoed, South Wales, has been making Raspberry Pi boards for Farnell for around two weeks already. The company invested £50,000 in the facility to give it the package-on-package technology needed to stack the Raspberry Pi's Broadcom chip beneath its RAM chip.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation first met with Sony at Easter this year, and were "so impressed" with the factory they saw that they called Premier Farnell the next day, according to Upton. Executives from the company visited the site and decided to move production to the facility soon after. 

Premier Farnell has now moved "the majority" of its Raspberry Pi production out of China, Upton said. Raspberry Pi's other distributor, RS Components, has kept manufacturing in China for the time being and has no public plans to move. All in all, around 40 percent of manufactured boards are now expected to come from Wales, according to Upton. 

"How do you know if you've got a UK-made board? Easy. Look next to the power jack; you'll see the words 'Made in the UK'. We couldn't be prouder," the foundation wrote in a blog post on Thursday

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