Center for Device Design & Development

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 3DC?

3DC stands for the Center for Device Design and Development housed at UW-Fox Valley.  It seeks to connect potential inventors and small business in Wisconsin with the technical resources required to develop, prototype, test, patent, and market their ideas. 

Who runs it?

3DC is managed by Product Development Engineer John Fick with co-directors Dr. Ranen McLanahan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UW-Fox and Dr. Michael Zampaloni, associate professor of mechanical engineering for UW-Platteville. Between them, they have over 40 years of engineering and technical expertise.  Both professors are part of the UW Fox/Platteville collaborative engineering degree offered in Menasha.

Why is this needed?

Potential inventors may hold on to great, innovative ideas for years without knowing what to do with them.  3DC seeks to connect these inventors with the technical expertise and resources necessary to make their idea an exciting reality.  Inventors benefit when their ideas are fully developed and brought to market.  New products can lead to new businesses which 3DC can assist in setting up. 

Who does the work?

3DC will have a full-time engineer on staff and has the capability to tap into the vast network of academic professionals across the UW-System.  In addition to further enhance the educational mission of the UW-System, 3DC will be hiring 5-10 student interns a year to assist with project development and engineering work.  This benefits engineering students in the UW Fox/Platteville Engineering Collaboration by providing them invaluable, real-world technical and entrepreneurial skill that are highly prized in today's competitive markets

How does it work?

An inventor or small business brings 3DC a product idea that is in any stage of development for 3DC engineers to review.  If the idea has promise, 3DC will set up a meeting with inventors to further discuss the ideas.   3DC will then seek to determine the ideas:

  • Technical Feasibility – is it something 3DC can build?
  • Market Strength – is there a market for the product?
  • IP Potential – can the idea be patented?

3DC then schedules a second meeting with the inventor to discuss the results.  This is offered as a free service to the Wisconsin public.

If 3DC and the inventor decide they want to develop the idea together, then the next stage begins.

What’s the Next Stage?

Every idea is unique, and the next stage depends on where the idea is in its development.  The general steps are planning out future development work with the inventor, bringing in the WiSys Technology Foundation to assist with legal agreements, patent applications, and financial support, and determining how market revenues are to be shared between the involved partners.  Then, the work of design, analysis, prototyping, testing, and refinement commences.

Okay, I have a great idea – what now?

You’ll need the following two forms.  The first form is our confidentiality agreement.  The second form is an initial idea description to be sent after we have a signed confidentiality form on file.  Send them our direction, and we’ll contact you to discuss the next steps.

If you have additional questions about the process, please email Program Manger John Fick or call 920-832-0113.