Visiting the Arduino factory

Tenaya Hurst shares her excitement after visiting the Arduino factory and witnessing board manufacturing.
The most important day during my stay in Italy was the day I visited the Arduino offices and factories in Ivrea, northern Italy.  All these years, I have cherished these impeccable blue boards that come in the charming boxes, with stickers and a plastic holder.  To finally see where it all comes from, was a dream come true.

When I pulled into the driveway of a small industrial-like complex, I saw a forklift with a pallet of Arduinos on their way to makers worldwide, it was thrilling.  Just inside, more massive stacks of carefully assembled Arduino Starter Kits in numerous languages - labeled with flags!  Then I was able to chat with the core Arduino Hardware team, busily working in their makerspace on our latest ventures of the LoRa Gateway and Node shields.  The team collaborates and makes a lot happen in a little space! 

Then I was introduced to Marika, basically the Italian version of me in that we share a bubbly personality and fabulous style!  She is making it happen to coordinate all the components needed to make the wide variety of Arduino boards, shields, and kits we offer.  We embarked on a tour of the other facilities creating the Arduino magic, still right here in Ivrea. 

Marika and I visited the team who assemble and make the Arduino Starter Kit.  Men and women hand-soldering many components for thousands of makers to enjoy.  All the parts that end up in your Starter Kit, imagine how much effort it takes to get all those parts gathered and tessellated in one compact box.  I saw Starter Kit books printing in Korean, can someone pinch me?  At this same facility, they print Arduino boxes and package the boards using this very cool boxing machine! 

Next, we visited a specialized warehouse producing the Arduino STAR OTTO and other early-run boards.  I had never seen hardware of any kind being made and I was beyond impressed!  Check out Ricardo adding solder to the bath and running a round of hardware through the oven.  Later he returned to his computer to zoom in on certain parts of the board to check how the batch worked out.  The staff also added hand-soldering final touches to each STAR OTTO board to make it perfect, as well as tested each board several times before it was on the way to be boxed. 

The first manufacturing step for all Arduino boards - is the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).  Marika and I rang the doorbell of the PCB factory and the owner and one of his employees poked their head out the window to see who it was…just two Arduino women!  The owner showed us the entire process of making Arduino PCBs, I was shocked.  I assumed he would show us a few machines, but he was so kind to show us every machine and process involved.  He is very proud of the many phases required to make complex PCBs; ovens, chemical baths, treatments, and my favorite machine of all - the one that makes that special Arduino teal.  Did you know that it has taken 10+ years for us to achieve the ideal ink color?  With all the procedures, the color is subject to change, so it is quite an effort to have the desired Arduino teal color at the end for the finished boards.  In addition, when components are soldered to the board, that is another set of ovens which can further change the color.  

One more factory is a major part of the Arduino complex, producing the high-volume popular boards of UNO, DUE, ESPLORA, and more!  The factory owner was also very gracious to show me the whole operation.  Men and women, giving so much individual attention to produce great hardware for our educators and makers out there.  Before my eyes, hundreds of PCBs were on their way to becoming real Arduino boards with USB ports, pin headers, and onboard LEDs.  Having the opportunity to see these pick-and-place machines and Arduinos running through a solder bath - nothing has made me happier!  Perhaps you can sense my enthusiasm, and it is important to note that I shared a cappuccino at each part of the visit so it could be the Italian coffee talking, but sincerely, this was an afternoon that brought me tears of joy.  The effort that goes into making an Arduino can be compared only to the time and effort YOU put into your Arduino projects. 

We all wrapped up the day with a visit to the NEW Arduino building, just a few miles — sorry — kilometers away!  This is a great opportunity for us to all move forward as one team, working together in a centralized Ivrea location to bring this very special open-source hardware and software to the Arduino Community.



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