In my opinion, it would have to start with someone really small or really huge to make this work.
Small and custom and would have to ask for a premium and if the demand is there, expand and get better efficiencies with volume. They would have to prove the concept and then expand.
One of the problems is the current supply chain. Most of the raw materials are also most likely made in China, so the US supply chain isn't efficiently available.
So it would take a huge effort to get the economies of scale to be competitive.
Not true. We thought the same thing but after a bit of research found that it is very doable. Most materials are available, and all supply chains do exist. The biggest issue in the USA is the mindset that everything can be done under one roof. Most of my experience in China has been centralized in factories that do everything including final assembly and shipping. This flat out does not exist in the USA. Here is a perfect example of a product that I co-founded and is made entirely in the USA. Try finding someone in the USA to do PCB work, package printing, final assembly and logistics to 10+ distribution facilities. It. Does. Not. Exist.
Cost difference between USA and China for production? less than $2 - even in super high volumes. Going forward, most everything I do will be in the USA and as local as possible - exactly what we have done with ShutterBug. Everything brewed right in Charleston SC.
Same goes for my wind meter http://weatherflow.com/windmeter
everything was designed, developed and tested locally in Charleston SC with close friends, and some kiteboarders (Joe Ruscito - our account manager). All design work was done by my good friend Nate at http://distilunion.com
, all 3d printing was done locally, all hardware / electrical engineering done locally and in house with our resident EE genius(s).
Manufacturing in the USA is very real, it is very competitive with Chinas pricing and requires the same amount of work, sourcing, final assembly, and regardless of where you manufacture if you are a US based business all of the economics land in US bank accounts. Especially on these smaller projects where we are capable of sourcing locally.
There is a huge movement for this in the USA right now, and plenty of room to compete - but plan on doing final assembly and QC in your house with friends and some beer