How A Boise State Tech Lab Has Reduced One Company's Costs

Jan 23, 2015

Here's some of the designs on display at Boise State's New Product Development Lab. Senior engineering student Chris Brown (background) gave President Obama a tour of the lab, which uses a 3D printer to help companies build efficient prototypes for products.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

President Barack Obama got an up-close look this week at some of the technology and business partnerships being created in Boise. During his speech at Boise State, Obama said the university's New Product Development Lab is putting the Treasure Valley on the "cutting edge of innovation" and is helping to build Idaho's economy. 

Matt Perkins can testify to that. Perkins owns Coyote Design, a Boise company that makes orthotic and prosthetic parts.

Coyote Design builds prosthetic parts, and has used the New Product Development Lab to improve their design.
Credit Coyote Design

He says the lab has helped him reduce costs and build a better product since his company began using it about 10 years ago.

"More than anything it's probably allowed us to fail extremely fast and more efficiently," says Perkins, "so that we're not investing too much into a particular product before determining that it may or may not be working correctly."

The small business owner says Coyote Design has saved a lot of money in overhead by getting to use the lab's high-tech equipment.

It's not free to use the lab; companies pay a fee depending on the scope of the project they're working on. But Perkins says it's been well-worth the cost. He says the engineers and students in the lab helped his company do a complete overhaul of their original product using 3-D models.

Perkins thinks the facility is helping increase the odds that more products and parts could be manufactured in Idaho.

"Our saying for a long time is the actual idea is the easy part, the hard part is executing everything else beyond that," says Perkins. "They're definitely a key player in helping get people to realize those products."

The New Product Development Lab at Boise State has an annual budget of about $250,000. It's receives some state and federal funding, with client fees making up the rest.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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