I don't much see the argument for buying clones in order to save money - you're not going to save that much from what I can see - especially in terms of the total cost of the modular (1 or 2%) - maybe a night in the pub or something similar - maybe it means that you have to wait an extra month to get the module - is that such a big deal - 1/2 the time you have to wait because there are none available anyway
I'm not american, but I do see it as similar to going into a restaurant in the US and when paying the bill shaking the waiters hand and thanking them very much for their service - but not leaving a tip - and not accidentally like a european who expects that person to be paid properly and not need the tip - but deliberately and knowingly
BUT that's just my opinion and I bear no ill will to anyone making clones - and I believe that at least some of them have offered money and had it turned down
space is also similar to a large extent - not enough space in the case - get another - you were saving your pennies (piggy bank for next case) when buying modules for the last case weren't you?
ergonomics is another factor - the number one rule of cloning seems too be make it smaller - well imo they are small enough already - the only clone that appears to have done this in any way that maintains the ergonomics is pachinko - and not having seen one in the flesh or played with one - I don't know but to me Marbles seems about the right size for Marbles, etc etc
there are ways to find reliable builders - muffwiggler's Music Tech DIY subforum Stickies
it's not that difficult to learn to solder - especially as there are online workshops - such as the Music Thing Modular Control build that Thonk hosted at the weekend - not perfect if you have to buy tools up front too - but actual events may start up again at some point in the future - I learnt at Dutch Modular Festival 2018 (i think) I bought a 50€ kit and built it there had a quick lesson and checked etc - I've now built about 60 modules - DIY does not save money - it means more modules for the same money, eventually
re: FR4 panels - they're not that bad really not got any big ones but small ones seem fine - and I wouldn't see that as a show stopper - it's actually a decent way of shaving a few quid off the costs - aluminium panels are not cheap!
in terms of quality of components - 99% of the time it will be the exact component as described in the bom or the nearest available (mostly identical) part from a major supplier most of the time - because that's what's in the BOM freely available and almost always selected as the cheapest part that will do the job properly - there are some end of lifed components - but most of these have similarly priced alternatives - the big area where worse quality components are substituted (and this is debatable to some extent) is the move from pots to trimmers - generally pots are bolted to the panel and soldered to the pcb - which massively helps in terms of structural integrity - trimmers can only be soldered and not bolted - but saying that I have a fair few reasonably high end modules that have pots and no bolts - but then there are almost always screws holding the panel to the pcb in order to compensate - but trimmers also often reflects a reduction in size which then makes the modules horrible to use... but it massively reduces the cost - from memory a trimmer is roughly a third of the price of a pot and knob
The only module that I have where I have 'issues' is Maths - neither channel 1 nor channel 4 function outs like being patched to non-buffered inputs (apparently all make noise modules have buffered inputs) - but not a biggie! like the issues with the 6hp endorphin.es modules - it may be power related...