Motivated by his own passion for candles, Texas inventor J.B. Ricci has created an innovative new candle maintenance device with help from SATOP.

Called Wick Wizard, Ricci’s patented invention performs all the tasks associated with candle use and maintenance. The Wick Wizard can replace the assortment of tools currently needed to ensure a clean, safe and long lasting candle. The Wick Wizard trims and lights a candle in one easy step. The ergonomically designed device also extinguishes candles and has a built in timer that chimes to indicate the end of the burn session. In addition, Wick Wizard features a child resistant mechanism and a refillable fuel reservoir.

“I came up with the Wick Wizard concept based on my personal enjoyment of candles. I realized that candle enthusiasts like myself would appreciate an all-in-one candle tool to replace scissors, trimmers, lighter matches and snuffers,” said Ricci, president of Wick Wizard, LLC.

Ricci created the Wick Wizard with no intention of pursuing production, but his friends urged him to conduct market research. They suggested that he consult the candle industry to discover if the product might appeal to consumers. Ricci contacted candle manufacturers around the country and received positive feedback to his invention.

With that encouragement spurring him on, Ricci began researching potential manufacturing firms. At the same time, he wanted to secure a technical assessment of his product. “I needed to know if there was any way to improve Wick Wizard’s efficiency and design before taking it to production,” Ricci said. He turned to SATOP when he learned of its services from the Houston Inventors Association.

SATOP accepted Ricci’s Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) and partnered him with Barrios Technology, Inc. Based in Houston, Barrios is a Gold Space Alliance Partner.

“SATOP has provided our employees an opportunity to contribute to outside engineering activities in a disciplined manner,” said Robert McAfoos, mission integration manager at Barrios. “Everyone feels a strong sense of accomplishment when they can apply their talents to help others.”

Eugene Schwanbeck, a power heating articulation lighting control officer (PHALCON) with Barrios, was assigned the challenge. After reviewing the entire design, Schwanbeck recommended adjusting the size of the head of the Wick Wizard to allow it to service candles of many different sizes.

“I used my experience in software design and development, a seemingly unrelated skill for this request, to determine what assumptions, constraints and major functions were required,” said Schwanbeck. “I felt that if the product were too specific, it would not appeal to the widest possible market. I sought to maximize the target audience and increase the product’s potential for success.”

Ricci was pleased with Schwanbeck’s assessment. “It was great to hear that my design was fundamentally sound and well-executed. Eugene’s suggestion provided the fine-tuning I needed,” he said.

After acquiring this information, Ricci was ready to take the new prototype to production. The Wick Wizard will be ready for the consumer market in the fall. Ricci already is planning for a second-generation product that will be more complex and will need additional assistance in mechanical engineering from SATOP.

“I thoroughly enjoyed solving Mr. Ricci’s technical dilemma,” said Schwanbeck. “It was especially gratifying because SATOP benefits economic growth and development immediately, not months or years after the new ideas have been developed and refined.”