Economics of Manufacturing High End Lights

Everything I know about manufacturing would fit into the empty part of a D-cell spacer holding a C-cell, not much different than a thimble.

I am surprised no manufacturer is jumping on the open source design of the blfgt to offer a clone to for around $199.

I guess that must mean the cost to manufacture the blfgt is higher than I had thought, and/or the demand for that type of light is less than I thought.

I was thinking that if I had $50,000 to invest, I’d take the plans for the blfgt over to a machine shop and people who can solder and get a bunch made while several hundred people here have been waiting for one. If a light like the gt was available for $200 today, that would be tempting in comparison to waiting for the group buy.

If you had asked the cost of manufacturing the blfgt before watching the tail end of its development, I would have guessed the cost outside development and factory setup would be $25.00 in China,$15 in Malaysia, $50.00 in the US or Europe. I would have guessed you would sell enough if these to render development costs close enough $0 as the average per light to call it zero, and I could become a millionaire on fortune on my $50,000 investment.

Do you have any information or thoughts that can explain why the blfgt copycat has not appeared?

How do you think I could do on that hypothetical $50,000 invesrtment to come out with the not-blf thrower that matches the blfgt quality?

One last question, why is the demand for awesome flashlights so low. Whenever I show mine off, people want them. The attraction to to brighter than Jones’s have should be enough to have these things flying off store shelves.

I think our hobby needs to start showing up in Hollywood movies and halftime of FL football games. Whenever a little kid has something bad happen, we should issue press releases to every news organization in the United States explaining how the right flashlight would prevented the tragedy. Part of being a soccer mom should be a family supply of 1000-lumen flashlights to go with bandaids and canned foods in their stash of mandatory stuff to have to be prepared the next natural disaster, which could come at any minute. It should be unthinkable that nice hotels with contingency flashlights in guestrooms would gave crappy contingency lights.

Who is in charge of getting g the word out?

Ok, so astrolux is going for this late. This offer could have been made the minute the blfgt design was getting near final, and they could have been poised to be delivering by the end of last year, grabbing the blf group buy for themselves. That is a legitimate market penalty for the slow pace of our project. I also expect this will force down the price Lumentop will be able to get.

What are their manufacturing costs going to be?

Lol how am I supposed to know?
Even if I was part of the company it would be prohibited to give out that kind of information.

So far, the only estimate of manufacturing costs, excluding setup costs, is $40 in China. I have no way to know if that is anywhere near realistic.

Designing an 18650 thrower

Hello I am fairly new to this Hobby but I am quickly becoming consumed with everything involved in manufacturing lights and combinations of LED and MCPCBS! I own a full blown Machine shop right on the boarder of North and South Carolina. We specialize in machining food grade materials (304 SS/316 SS, Aluminum, and Delrin). I’m looking to expand my business to manufacturing my own products. I’m interested in Flashlights because I feel like this industry will never stop growing along with the technology. I’m looking for some help on design techniques (Heatsinking, electronic components, and form factor). Right now im looking to design an 18650 quad LED Thrower. Why are these not as common? because the reflectors have to be so big? Too much Heat? To expensive to Manufacture?

Mainly because the reflectors have to be very large, and are actually not that easy to make.

Also, if you want to use very high power LEDs in a quad thrower, you’re going to need more than a single 18650.

Ok well I just bought a d4v2 TI and I was wondering why cant I just stick a deep reflector on it and Bam??

You can actually if you find one that fits, and will screw on with the normal bezel. :smiley:

You’ll have to build a modified head for it to fit… Unless you can make a curved reflector.

Look at the Sofirn C8, it’s only a tri thrower but a great price point.

Take a look at companies like Convoy and Fenix too to see the range of what is out there.

Awesome! From what I can tell is that the smaller the LED and the Larger the reflector the more throw you get. is there a standard ratio that companies use as a guideline?

congrats, I hope you enjoy it

the D4 uses Tir optics. It is not a reflector based arrangement. The LEDs are too far apart to work in a reflector

if you want a thrower you should look at the FW1a (single LED in a reflector), and compare its design to an Fw3a, that uses Tir Optics

I think its great you have a shop and machine skills. The simplest upgrade part you could offer, would be a bezel that accepts tritiums, for various lights…

The highest price flashlights are made of Titanium, some buyers would be excited to be able to add a titanium bezel with tritiums to some of their lights. I would be interested in a tritium bezel for my Original RRT-01. It does not have to be Ti, could be stainless. (but Ti always brings more bragging value, as do sapphire lenses)

welcome to the forum, I look forward to your contributions

Retail is brutal. I predict you will find the cost of machining the flashlight body is a small proportion of your final costs. Consider the cost of inventory, sales, and warranty; the rest of the Bill of Materials, and the Non-Recurring Engineering costs. There is a reason Boutique lights are priced at a premium. Consider also that you’re competing with Chinese manufacturers that have cheaper labor, lots of production runs to amortize their capital costs across, better access to Supply Chains, and probably better quantity discounts.

I’d suggest creating a dummy BOM. Then go to Alibaba or AliExpress and price out the parts, Qty 100. That’s just to get a rough estimate of your costs. The rule of thumb I’ve always worked with is take your rough costs and double them - that’s your wholesale price. If you’re working with a distributor, they’re going to need 20-50% of that to make it worth their while. Again, just rough estimates, but better than nothing.

For example, here’s (\_t=gps-id:pcDetailBottomMoreThisSeller,scm-url:1007.14977.145068.0,pvid:46802ab9-23d7-45bb-81b8-5cd09edcf08c) a modest 4 Emitter 66.6mm(D) x 30mm(H) SMO Aluminum reflector, $9.36 Qty 1.
Here (Cree XHP LEDs - Shop Cheap Cree XHP LEDs from China Cree XHP LEDs Suppliers at LHT Flashlight Store on are Cree XHP50.2, XHP70.2, $8-$17 Qty 1. Osram’s Emitters (Group - Shop Cheap Group from China Group Suppliers at LHT Flashlight Store on, $6-8. BTW, US Distributor pricing ( is about the same.

Forget the budget drivers. Look at ones from designers on this board; they’ll be less than the emitters, but probably not by much.

Even the little things, like springs and switches, will cost more to carry the amperage you’re looking at.

Then look at some benchmark lights and see how your competition is pricing them. Companies like Surefire and Streamlight sell $100MM a year, and are really, really good at selling to Federal, State, and Local government agencies. They command a premium price for perceived value; companies like Imalent, Lumintop, Haikelite, Fireflies, etc sell low cost performance.

I’m not trying to discourage you, just hoping you know what you’re getting into. To paraphrase an old joke, you know how to make a small fortune in business/real estate/manufacturing? Start with a large one.

I think most people underestimate the cost of manufacturing in China. Labour is getting expensive, good machining aluminium is not cheap either. If I was to get the GT manufactured in my machine shop I would estimate the material cost at around £40, labour around £120 the electronics around £20 and assembly labour around £40.

That’s £220 costs to me, then added 20% mark up, £10 p&p and you have £274 with no account for design costs.

I would expect to get it done in China for about half of that.

Someone here had (has?) his own shop for custom-made lights. Pick your head/tube/tail/LED/driver, etc.

Pricey, as expected, but you could pick’n’choose the exact light you want. That’s the cost of a bespoke light vs off-the-rack.

If you just want to make a few different models and sell them, then you’re competing with Everyone Else out there, and unless you have something which sets off your lights as Something Special… well, not to sound like a Negative Nelly, but few people will pay a premium for what they can get from Sofirn or Convoy or whoever for a fraction of the price.

Okay, an 18650 quad that belts out 3000lm but heats up like the wrong end of a curling iron in 10sec… hardly useful except for 9sec of extremely bright light. Great for wowing some drunk friends, but nothing I’d pay a premium for.

As a hobby, great. As a business… :confounded:

Having been raised around police officers, up until 2 years ago I thought the “best” flashlights were from Mag, Streamlight, and SureFire, and cost $250. Then I found Chinese companies like Convoy selling ones for $25 that were better in every way (except as a club) than the Magcharger and the Streamlight Stinger that cost over 4 times as much. I really liked the BLF GT but didn’t like the $250 pricetag. THEN I realized I could build my own that was brighter than the GT for 1/3 the money. Hmmmm… gotta love the availability of components that you can use to make your own, right?

this is one rason ive found love for convoy

its budget light that has good comparision to fenix and maglights

i intend ordering a lot from simon and selling them in finland

Straight up brightness is fairly easy, it’s the throw that’s more tricky. The original GT is a highly specialised thrower, it’s very good at doing one thing well.

Something like a convoy L6 or BLF Q8 are much more practical large lights. I still use the GT a fair bit though!