UK lucks out of Raspberry Pi manufacturing

The UK’s tech manufacturers have prevented the super-cheap Raspberry computer being made in this Sceptred Isle.

The makers of the £20 computer announced that the product is now being manufactured, but they cannot do it in their homeland because UK manufacturers were too slow and expensive.

A company spokesman said that the first units from the first batch will be rolling off the line at the end of January. This first batch will consist only of Model Bs, although you will be able to buy Model As later on. More than 10,000 are being manufactured.

But the spokesman said that the UK charity was unable to help bootstrap the UK electronics industry by making the gear in Britain.

He said that a number of possible UK manufacturers were looked at, but there were a few problems, some of which made matters impossible.

Some of that was due to the fact that the British plants could only make a manufacturing schedule which was between 12 and 14 weeks, compared to a three to four week turnaround in the Far East.

Pricing in the UK varied enormously with factories’ capacity. If a factory had sufficient capacity to do the work, they were quoting very high prices, the spokesman said.

He said that the company had expected a delta between manufacture pricing between the UK and the Far East, but the build prices quoted would have pushed the charity into the red.

“Some factories were able to offer us prices which were marginally profitable, but they were only able to produce at most a few hundred units a month,” it was said in a blog post.

Even the more reasonable manufacturers could not compete with the five dollars per unit manufacturing in the Far East.

The other problem was the UK taxman who wanted the outfit to pay a lot more for the privilege of making the machines in Britain. If a British company imports components, Raspberry says, it has to pay tax on those but if a completed device is made abroad and imported into the UK – with all of those components soldered onto it – it doesn’t attract any import duty at all.

“This means that it’s really, really tax inefficient for an electronics company to do its manufacturing in Britain, and it’s one of the reasons that so much of our manufacturing goes overseas,” the post said.