Quoted from flynnibus:
Besides rapid prototyping, why are we bothering with inhouse PCB fab, etc? That stuff is commoditized... It reeks of Heighway again where they think they can do it better/cheaper by doing it themselves... (instead of letting 'experts' excel at their trade).
It's not always about better/cheaper. Often processes are brought in-house because it's faster, and you have control. You realize how often a vendor can cripple a manufacturing process because "their line went down", or the BOM goes up because they decide to re-negotiate the price? This isn't necessarily a bad move honestly. Remember when Stern fought with churchhill cabinet? They almost brought CNC in-house over it, but in the end they made up (but it could have had serious effect on production).
We have a stratasys 3d printer at work that cost us $120k, and then there's a $15k maintenance fee. Would it be cheaper to just farm it out to local 3d printer services? Of course, but you wait in queue with everyone else. It speeds up development when you can literally throw in a job before you leave, and have parts waiting for you the next morning.