GWP Group

Tool Control Foam

Avoid losing expensive equipment and avoid costly delays to projects using tool control foam / shadow boards

Specialist tools and equipment are expensive. Losing them is very expensive! If your business takes expensive or specialist equipment out on site, then you are probably already aware of problems caused by loss or theft.


Kit needs to be replaced. Projects can be severely delayed. Replacements must be sourced. And this all leads to considerable expense to your business as well as delays for your customers.


One solution is the use of tool control foam. Also commonly referred to as shadow board foams, these foams can quickly highlight if a tool is missing.

I was very pleased with the quality and appearance of the cases and inserts, and would specifically mention the high quality engineering of the foam case inserts. This was far better than anything that we have ever had before. GWP spent many hours designing, re-designing and speaking to us to absolutely nail the requirement, which has been achieved and then some.

Adrian Sorsby | Balluff Field Sales Manager

5 ways that tool control foam can reduce your costs:

  • Quickly highlights if tools are missing, preventing loss, theft, and the expense of replacements
  • Visual aid to field engineers or staff on which tool to use, boosting their productivity
  • Can help to avoid costly delays caused by operatives arriving on site without the required tools
  • Enhances safety, eliminating potential for tools left inside machinery to cause catastrophic damage
  • Protects tools during transit, preventing collision with each other & cushioning from shock etc.

So how do Shadow board foam inserts work?

Shadow board foams, are in effect, the same as the protective case inserts commonly used when protecting products or equipment during transit.


The main difference – and defining feature – is the use of dual layers of foam of differing colours.

Tool case foam

With a bright coloured foam as the base, a layer of darker (usually black) foam is laminated over the top. The recesses for the individual tools are then routed or cut through these two layers of foam creating a high-visibility pocket.


Once the tools or equipment are in place, this brighter base foam layer will not be seen. However, as soon as a tool is removed to be used, the bright colour is clearly visible, even “at a glance”.

So how can tool control foam improve my business’ operations?

There are a surprising number of benefits associated with using tool control foam.


Firstly, and most obviously, tool control foam will aid the prevention of tools becoming lost or left behind when working on site. This can be particularly problematic when a vast range of hand tools and equipment are being used on site – it is surprisingly easy to leave a tool behind having completely a complex job.

Free Guide: 15 crucial considerations for protection

The foam also acts as protection for the tools. It prevents them from damaging each other during transit (again, surprisingly common if tools can collide into each other when being transported).


This prevention of loss and damage in turn eliminates the need (and cost) of replacing what can often be expensive, high value items.


It also means that delays to projects and jobs caused by not having the correct tools can be avoided. The cost savings of this alone can be very significant.

Shadowboard and tool control foam examples

View a selection of foam tool control inserts and shadow boards, plus their typical applications. Please click the individual thumbnails for a larger view.

Improvement to productivity?

As well as helping to identify missing tools, shadow board foam inserts can also be used to identify which tools are required for a specific task or job.


By logically laying out the tools within the foam, for example in order of use, it can both simplify and speed up specific procedures.


Although this will only result in a small increase in productivity, the effects over the months and years the foam will be in use can be significant.

Tool control foam

Besides the foam colours and the layout of the tools, another feature that can also help with identification is that of laser etching.


Tool part numbers, sizes or other relevant information can be engraved into the foam, next to the recess for the specific tool. This is particularly useful if several tools appear very similar visually.

The difference between life and death

Whilst this is somewhat of an exaggeration in the vast majority of cases, foam shadow boards were in fact originally created to prevent “foreign object damage” to aircraft and military vehicles.


Foreign object damage (FOD) was a term originally used in aviation to describe when damage to engine or other mechanical part of the aircraft is caused by an object that shouldn’t be there.


It was found that, frequently, the FOD in question was a tool that had been left behind during routine repairs or maintenance.

Foam inserts

As a result, shadow board and tool control foams are extensively used in the aerospace sector. However, they are increasingly common in automotive, defence, manufacturing and even medical disciplines.


Essentially, any business or organisation that uses hand tools, consumables or equipment on site can benefit.

Free Guide: 15 crucial considerations for protection

Over 25 Years experience in manufacturing successful tool control foam

GWP Protective can offer your business all the benefits of over quarter of a century manufacturing tool control foam and other Plastazote foam inserts and products.


You will be allocated a knowledgeable and experienced advisor and design expert to guide you through the entire foam design and production process, and to make sure your exact requirements are fulfilled as appropriate.

engineered product protection

Your shadow board foams will be designed using the latest CAD software. They will be manufactured in a clean, modern production environment using advanced CNC equipment. And they will be delivered when you need them, to wherever you need them.


The aim, from concept through design, sampling, manufacture, testing, delivery and ultimately in use, will be to always exceed your expectations.

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Expert Foam Conversion… 


Use the links below to see the engineered foam inserts, foam packaging and other protective solutions available from GWP Protective.

Benefits for your business… 


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Related information… 


Please use the links below for further information on foam inserts / protective cases that you may find interesting and useful

6 signs you need foam inserts
Transit cases - how to decide which is best for your business
Plastazote foam - what is it and why should you be using it

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Click below to discuss your upcoming requirements, difficulties you are facing or to simply get advice from one our experts.

Can shadowboard tool control foam help prevent loss of your expensive tools?