Mark Melni and Armand Eckert

Excerpt from the article Learn How the Chinese Finger Trap Connected Melni to Success

by William Mullane

Not all inventors go back 4,000 years to find stimulus for new ideas. But then, Mark Melni is not your run of the mill inventor. In addition to running Microchips Etc, a family electronics business for 20 years, Mark is a classically trained pianist who published the “Lost Arts” album with his son, Paul. This renaissance man is an example of a new type of Idaho business person – the ”Inventrepreneur” –  who combines the innovative mind of the inventor with the drive, passion, vision and business sense of the entrepreneur. Combining the mindset of the Inventrepreneur with the skills and experience of the TechHelp New Product Development (NPD) Team at Boise State proved to be a Melni’s recipe for success.

Having spent most of his adult life working with computers and wires, it pained Mark to see his staff at Microchips Etc wear out their hands crimping wires in the traditional manner. He knew there had to be a better way. His mind latched on to the idea of the Chinese Finger Trap as a potential way to join wires together. The finger trap is a simple device that traps the victim’s index fingers in both ends of a small cylinder woven from bamboo. Trying to pull the fingers out only tightens the trap.

In the summer of 2007, Mark invented The Melni Electrical Connector in his garage. With a design concept similar to the Chinese Finger Trap, this revolutionary invention contains an electrically-conductive spiral. Once the connector is twisted, the spiral is able to “grip” stripped wires, cables and other elongated elements and securely connect them. This eliminates the time-consuming, unreliable and expensive crimping, soldering and wrapping that is prevalent with many current electrical connectors.

It’s a long way, though, from Chinese Finger Trap to a working prototype to a marketable device. Thankfully, Mark connected with the NPD Team at Boise State to turn his finger trap into a reliable electrical connector.

-William Mullane

Marketing Manager TechHelp

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