One of the biggest holdups to owning a Raspberry Pi was its stuttering availability, so much so that it even prompted a few copycat boards. Creator Eben Upton and equipment makers Premier Farnell might have found the solution, teaming up with Sony to produce an initial run of 300,000 of the educational computers at the company's UK Technology Center, in Pencoed, near Bridgend in Wales. Upton hopes to keep the cost at $25 and $35 for two boards, thanks to employing Sony's "lean manufacturing techniques," and the Japanese company has already spent £50,000 ($80,000) on new package-on-package assembly equipment -- ensuring that we'll all be able to get our hands on one soon enough.
Premier Farnell partners with Sony UK Technology Centre to manufacture the Raspberry Pi in the UK
6th September 2012 - London, UK, Premier Farnell plc (LSE:pfl), a leading global high service electronics distributor, has agreed a multi-million pound deal with Sony UK Technology Centre (UKTec) that will see the revolutionary Raspberry Pi computer manufactured in the UK for the first time.
This deal is a major coup for the UK manufacturing industry and represents a return home for the innovative British-designed Raspberry Pi, which to date has only been manufactured in China. Utilising Sony UK Technology Centre's state of the art lean manufacturing techniques, the site will be initially produce over 300,000 units for customers across the world and is expected to create up to 30 additional jobs.
Premier Farnell has been selling the innovative device since February this year through its brands of Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in Asia Pacific, and more recently through subsidiaries CPC in the UK and MCM Electronics in the US.
The product, which has been developed by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, is a credit-card sized computer that aims to stimulate young people's interest in computer programming. There is no sign of a slowdown in demand for the revolutionary computer with the element14 Community, the world's largest online community for design engineers and electronics enthusiasts, helping to bring together Raspberry Pi fans to share ideas and further fuel innovation.
Mike Buffham, Global Head of EDE at Premier Farnell commented: "When it came to reviewing our manufacturing strategy we were always keen to bring the production of the Raspberry Pi to the UK. From the outset Sony UK Technology Centre demonstrated its enthusiasm for the product as well as its expertise in manufacturing. Their site is highly impressive and I am very confident that the team in Wales can deliver, providing us with a high-quality product, within our designated timeframe, all within budget. The Sony brand is known for its quality and to have its broadcast manufacturing site on board and building the Raspberry Pi product, within the UK, is very exciting.
"Since the Raspberry Pi was launched globally in February 2012 it has been a tremendous success story. The younger generation have been fascinated in learning how to build and programme their own computer device. As such we have had huge interest from educational institutions in purchasing the product, innovative design engineers who are using the computer for exciting new applications and also the general public."
Eben Upton, Co-Founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation said: "When Pete Lomas and I built the first Raspberry Pi's for testing last year, we never dreamed it would become so popular so quickly. The Raspberry Pi was built to develop young people's skills in computer programming and electronic engineering; we had always intended and hoped that the Raspberry Pi would also be manufactured within the UK. We're really delighted that Premier Farnell has been able to find such a reliable manufacturer as the Sony UK Technology Centre. By bringing the production of a UK product back into the country alongside its development and distribution, we can help support our economy and demonstrate the capabilities the UK has in terms of technological innovation, invention, and manufacturing.
"We look forward to continuing our work with Premier Farnell and now, the Sony UK Technology Centre, in the Raspberry Pi Foundation's next stage of growth."
In the assembly of the Raspberry Pi, Sony UKTec will be investing in additional equipment to fulfil the order requirements, providing flexibility and scalability to cater for potential increases in demand. This will include additional automated circuit board equipment and double side reflow machinery. Furthermore, the site will be extending its manufacturing process capability to include a technique called package-on-package (PoP). This process allows the processor and memory to be stacked on top of each other, reducing the PCB footprint and the distance that high-speed signals need to travel, improving overall reliability.
Steve Dalton OBE, Managing Director of Sony UK Technology Centre, stated; "We are now in our 20th year at the Pencoed site and we have had to diversify our service offerings to ensure the site's sustainability. As an organisation we are continually committed to developing the site's offering and this is shown from our diverse product portfolio through to the investment we make in machinery and the development of the processes we use. By working with innovative companies like Premier Farnell, we are able to extend our manufacturing services offering for existing and potential customers. We are also able to demonstrate our manufacturing capabilities, delivering high-quality technology products for UK companies.
"Furthermore, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, encompasses our view on developing young people's knowledge of the technology industry. Organisations like this one help build the technologists of our future by inspiring the next generation."
More information about the Raspberry Pi is available in the Raspberry Pi Group on the element14 Community.