The world of hardware startups is filled with long trips and longer stays in nations with large manufacturing infrastructures. Electronics manufacturing giant Flextronics, though, wants to bring the process home with a facility just north of San Jose, reports Engadget, that will manufacture your device or even work with you to bring a prototype to production — a move that stands in contrast to the common idea among hardware startups that manufacturing is best handled in Shenzhen.
“Our idea was if we create this capability in this infrastructure and organizational structure — in this case, it was about $15 million of investment — we can create the playground for these young companies to come in and really, really nurture their ideas into a real product,” said Flextronics president Mike Dennison.
Flextronics wants to leverage the proximity of its Milpitas facility by cutting down the travel times associated with iterating a new piece of hardware. Manufacturers that have used the facility include Recon and even Google, which worked with Flextronics to bring its Chromecast dongle to production.
“For myself, for my staff, to be able to jump on a plane and two hours later be able to make those decisions is invaluable,” said Recon Director of Manufacturing Dominique Kwong.
However, space is limited. Flextronics offers only four secured areas for vetted startups to work on prototypes.
Though a lot of electronics manufacturing for domestic startups takes place overseas, the United States still has a surprisingly dense network of factories. Two volunteer-organized tour groups, one in the San Francisco area and one near Boston, organize guided visits to factories that do everything from plastic molding to printed circuit boards.