Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 3 seconds.
As a mechanic in the United States Air Force for the last eight years, Tom Burden knew the frustration of having tools slide off an aircraft as he worked on it.
He spent long stretches of time working on a solution in his basement, trying to create a flexible tool tray that would grip tools while resting on the curved surfaces found on aircraft bodies and wings.
“I worked on the product to get it into production for three years, pushing to get it to raise capital and get the chemistry right,” said Burden, 26, an F-16 mechanic who joined the service right out of high school.
The result of his labor is GrypMat, a rubberized, non-marring, non-slip, anti-static tool tray designed to give mechanics a safe and secure surface to store tools without worrying about damaging an aircraft.
“No magnets, just high-end friction,” said Burden. “If it gets gunked up with grease, dust or any dirt, just running it under water using a damp rag will bring it back to life.
“If you want to get crazy, soap and water will really clean it back up.”`
GrypMat is made out of a polymer-silicone blend and has specific properties to make it resistant to Skydrol hydraulic fluid, JP-8 jet fuel and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) solvent, said Burden.
It’s a product with both rotary- fixed-wing applications and said to go where others don’t, holding tools at angles as high as 70 degrees.
“It can go basically anywhere,” said Burden. “It could go on the fuselage, could go on the wing, could go on the windshield if you really wanted it to.
“The key things that it’s doing is, it’s preventing scratches. It is keeping your tools accountable, so they’re not being set inside the engine. And it increases efficiency while also keeping your tools from getting lost.”