(WACO, Texas) – Bobby Martin’s work as an oil field service controls technician was the inspiration for a magnetic portable workstation he invented.
Martin, a 1990 graduate of Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College), received a patent in September 2018 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for The OmniShelf.
Martin’s invention, which measures about 17 by 15 by 3 inches when closed, uses industrial-strength magnets or suction cups to adhere to many metal or smooth vertical surfaces, leaving the user’s hands free. Once securely in place, The OmniShelf can support up to 30 pounds.
“I work all over the (oil) rig and needed something that was portable, and I thought I could make one that was magnetic. And, that is how it came about,” Martin said. “It took about three years to get it finished, going from the first prototype to what it is now.”
Some of the components Martin considered in the development process were the texture, strength of the plastic and how to make it work with hinges.
“We have some tweaks that are going to be made, but right now we have been selling it a little over a year,” Martin said. “It is just taking off on its own.”
Injection molding for the product is done in Kennedale, and assembly, packaging and storage is done in McGregor.
“When he decided to do this, I was behind him 100 percent,” said Martin’s wife, Mindy. “I’m very impressed with him finding the right people he found on his own as far as the molding company, the people in McGregor.”
Martin graduated in 1988 from China Spring High School.
“I didn’t even take a summer break,” he said. “I was a junior in high school when I decided I wanted to get into computers.”
Martin received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Maintenance Technology in 1990. After graduation, he worked in missile systems testing, troubleshooting and computer chip equipment maintenance at Texas Instruments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.