Raspberry Pi will now build you a bespoke model (as long as you buy 3,000)

Manufacturer element14 is offering to customise the cheap computing boards for customers that order larger volumes.

Originally designed for schoolchildren, many Raspberry Pi boards are being put to work in factory automation and consumer products. Image: Raspberry Pi

With an eye on the Internet of Things, Raspberry Pi has teamed up with board-maker element14 to design and sell customised computing boards.

Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton designed the cheap computing board with students in mind, but when announcing the new customisation service on Tuesday, he said an increasing number of customers are putting Pi boards to work in factory automation and consumer products.

"We're expecting to sell about three million Raspberry Pis this year," said Upton. "Over a million will go into what we recognise as industrial or embedded applications. These are not going to end up in schools used teach kids to program. They're going to go into factories and be used to automate factory processes; they're going to be embedded in products."

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The customisation service isn't for home tinkerers but rather OEMs that will need to order at least 3,000 units, or as Upton noted, Kickstarter campaigns using Pi that may require larger volumes.

element14 will provide design and manufacturing services to tweak components of the standard boards, such as changing the layout and memory, adding functionality, and adding or removing headers, connectors and interfaces.

According to Upton, seven million Pi units have been sold in the last three years. That's up from five million at last update in February, following the launch of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B boards.

The new service is aimed at customers that want to go beyond the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi "compute module" (the guts of a Pi) that was designed for tinkers looking to create their own printed circuit board (PCB), according to Upton.

The customisation service also doesn't signal any change in the proprietary license over Raspberry Pi's physical design.

Upton stressed that the offer here was "customised physical products rather than customers versions of the board [intellectual property]".

Standard Raspberry Pi boards sell for around $35 but the price for customised boards will largely depend on each customers' design requirements.

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