There’s a growing trend, fed by everything from IP concerns to Suez Canal traffic jams, to bring manufacturing back to North America.
This is more than just a commercial idea: The U.S.’s lack of manufacturing capabilities when it comes to semiconductors and other chips has been touted quite often as a national security risk. If factories in China stop or suffer disruptions, all of the manufacturing that involves or requires PCBs would, too. That includes pretty much everything you could possibly imagine: If it has a battery or runs on electricity, it probably has a PCB and a microprocessor in it.
Companies such as Macrofab are helping enable this nearshoring effort. TechCrunch+ spoke with Macrofab CEO Misha Govshteyn to learn more about the drive to manufacture in North America and how Macrofab is helping to facilitate it.
“Macrofab is an electronics manufacturing platform, very similar in spirit to what Fictiv does, for example, but we’re focused on anything with a printed circuit board,” Govshteyn said, referring to the supply chain company.
Macrofab says it operates the largest digital platform for electronics manufacturing in the country and has a network of more than 75 factories across North America. In April this year, it added six new component vendors to its platform, expanding its flexibility further.
“Imagine any device with a circuit board in it,” Govshteyn said. “Our customers can upload a design to us directly from their CAD files, get an instant price quote, place an order, [pay] either with a credit card … [or place] purchase orders with us and get their order in as little as 10 days.”
This makes Macrofab perfect for anyone who wants to make a prototype and prove a concept, but what about going beyond that? Can Macrofab support the production of millions of units of a particular build?
“We don’t stop necessarily at early-stage prototypes, and we’re not limited by volume,” Govshteyn said, noting that customers can go from prototype to full production within Macrofab’s setup. “We have customers who place orders as small as single-digit units — those can be $1,000 apiece — and then we have the largest customers, who spend millions of dollars on our platform.”
Macrofab doesn’t just provide production capacity to its customers; it can support them throughout the entire manufacturing process, as well. “Factories in our network will build the entire product for the customer. They’ll do full product assembly, and they’ll do full testing, full packaging. In fact, we even inventory finished goods for customers and deliver them on their behalf to their customers,” Govshteyn said.
By providing the full spectrum of manufacturing support, Macrofab’s goal is to make it easier for startups to navigate their production process and encourage companies that have previously manufactured abroad to bring their production back to North America.
“On our platform, customers can upload their design, but they can also do part selection,” Govshteyn said. “We have API links to all the major distributors and you can define substitute parts.”
This is great for maintaining both cost and supply stability, especially at the beginning of the production process or for smaller runs. For larger production runs, Macrofab has more to offer.
“When it gets into large production deals, our supply chain team will actually source all the materials for our customers, including plastics and metals and all of the rubber materials. We will help them set up all of the testing infrastructure,” Govshteyn said. “So to that end, we really become their supply chain team.”