Using Makerbot to Meet Impossible Deadlines and Cut Costs

Biolite is a startup that aims to transform how we use energy off the grid. Based in Brooklyn, the startup redesigns traditional outdoor products, like stoves and flashlights, with high-tech, sustainable energy innovations so that each will work without the need for fossil fuels. Their high-end products can store enough power to even charge mobile devices.

Biolite’s latest product, the BaseLantern, is a sleek, portable lantern that is controlled via your smartphone and will light up campsites, charge your devices, and give you power usage stats over Bluetooth. To meet an important trade show deadline, the startup needed to present a final model and its packaging months beforehand. Having finalized other marketing materials for the packaging beforehand, BioLite had one week to create blister packs for 10 products. In order to meet such a tight deadline, the design team relied on MakerBot’s 3D printers to save approximately $7,000 and accelerate the process of creating blister packs.

Typically produced using vacuum-forming, blister packs are made from sheets of plastic that are heated and formed over metal, wood, or plastic models. Traditionally, BioLite outsourced this job to other vendors which normally took 10 days. As Director of Design at BioLite, Anton Ljunggren elaborates, “Before we had a MakerBot, we outsourced the full prototype production of the blister packs to a model making house. The cost for one package [two blister halves] would then be $600 per blister or $1,200 for a full package. This summer we made 10 new products so the cost to outsource it all would have been $12,000. Plus, a rush order would up the cost by 50% to 100%.”


Faster, Better Processes

“3D printing with MakerBot allows us to iterate and try different ideas. Before, if we’re going to pay $600 for a blister pack, we want to make sure that’s the final one. Now we can try completely different blisters because it’s not that much more work for us if we’re already doing it.”- Anton Ljunggren, Director of Design, BioLite

With MakerBot, BioLite ended up saving $7,000 which allowed them to create blister packs themselves and faster than any other outsourced job. The team now have the freedom to bring ideas to life at a low-cost and faster than ever. BioLite can upend old processes to uniquely create faster, more cost-effective solutions that achieve better results for the business. In this case, the molds significantly cut down on marketing costs and allowed BioLite to meet a deadline that would otherwise be impossible. Meeting the deadline for the Outdoor Market trade show was especially important. Thousands of buyers from retailers regularly attend, looking to purchase bulk orders for the latest, greatest products. With a BaseLantern that was close to the final product, BioLite could show off how it works, what it looks like before it’s even manufactured. Utilizing MakerBot’s 3D printing technologies, BioLite was able to provide investors and consumers with a tangible product and bring it to stores as quick as possible.