Smooth-On’s ISA Display Made from Precision Board & Steel

When Smooth-On needed some eye-catching display pieces for the 2018 ISA Sign Expo, they approached Jim Dawson at Synergy Sign & Graphics in Ohio. They were familiar with some other gear pieces Jim’s shop had done for MultiCam & for display in their own shop.

Smooth-On only had two requests- show all their logos and use as many of their products in the fabrication of the displays as possible. Synergy delivered a final product made from Precision Board HDU, steel & coating products from Smooth-On and Coastal Enterprises.


“Smooth-On wanted us to take our previous gear designs and adapt them into something that fit their brand,” says Dawson.  “The biggest thing was to incorporate their logos into some spots and use as many of their products across the piece as possible to showcase how their products are used,” he added.

They needed the piece to be 24” deep by 18” wide by 4’ feet tall, so Jim created a steel frame on the inside and covered it with Precision Board HDU.

“We plasma cut 1/8” steel and bonded the Precision Board directly to the steel.”  Dawson says, “it made assembly easier and saved us time and material by being able to locate the steel easier when welding brackets.”

Jim used Smooth-On’s Freeform Habitat, which is a two-part epoxy clay. They also used Freeform Sculpt, which is an epoxy clay with a different viscosity.  “It’s thicker bodied and more like hard clay,” he says.  Jim adds, “all of their epoxies have great adhesion.”

Mold Star 15 SLOW was used to make silicone molds for parts.   Dawson also used Smoothcast Onyx SLOW.  “We cast the molds in silicone and then made resin copies.”

Dawson added some nods to Synergy Sign and Graphics on the piece.  “You can see an ‘s’ in the middle of the gear piece on the side. There’s also a badge on four sides of it.”  He added, “SSG Heavy Industries was us putting our initials on it.”

The Smooth-On badge was cast with copper powder and patina to age it.  “Everything that was cast was carved in 30lb Precision Board first. We would then dump silicone into the mold to make negative copies,” he added. “We knew it was an inside piece, so we used a little primer and TSF-45 to texture it. That’s my go to coating for 75% of the coating we do here.”


The design process took a few months of back and forth, but once that was set, it only took Synergy Sign about a week and a half to rout and paint.  Total routing time was about 8 hours for a ½ sheet of 2” thick 4×8 and a full sheet of 1” thick 4×8 of the PBLT-30 Precision Board HDU.

The paints were all Kemiko Theme Paint (thick). Modern Masters and Novacolor Acrylic Artists’ Paint.


We think that Jim Dawson and his team do some really excellent work. Synergy Sign & Graphics has a highly experienced staff whose backgrounds include graphic design, marketing, trade-show design, print media, branding, point of purchase design, fulfillment, and more. Check out their website or give them a call at (330) 878-7646 to see about your next project!

Coastal Enterprises offers free samples of Precision Board HDU.  Already have a project in mind for our material?  Request a quote and get started today.  Sign up for our monthly blog roundup so you don’t miss any of our informative blogs.  Have a special project fabricated with Precision Board HDU and want to know if it could be featured in a blog on our website?  Give us a call at 800-845-0745 or drop us an email with details.  We’d love to hear from you!