Creating Topographic Maps Worthy of the Royal Alberta Museum

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to host guest blogs written by some of the signage industry’s biggest movers and shakers, posted to the Precision Board Blog.  This guest blog was written by Jason Hakki of Rapid Gantry in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.  He talks about machining topographic maps for the Royal Alberta Museum out of Precision Board urethane foam…and how he solved the challenge of routing a map with final dimensions that were too tall to fit within the Z height on his CNC machine.

In Jason Hakki’s own words…

Recently we were contracted by Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) to be part of creating exhibit pieces for their new museum for the Natural History Hall. Each of these topographic maps had their unique challenges and required collaboration between Rapid Gantry, other specialized contractors, and the incredible team of experts from RAM.

One of the models is painted entirely matt gray and is part of an interactive display where museum patrons can view snow accumulation/melt and the corresponding effects on ocean levels.

The second and largest model is a glacier cutaway showing a glacier and the landforms that glaciation leaves behind once they melt.

After much careful planning, design, and revision, we took our 3D CAD models and cut them using our large MultiCam CNC router. When selecting material we carefully chose PBLT-30 Precision Board high-density urethane (HDU) from Coastal Enterprises.


The feeds and speeds for these topographic maps were 300 IPM and 12,000 RPM.  The Precision Board HDU was cut with a 1/8″ tapered ballnose router bit from Tools Today. The cut time was around 18 hours on the big model and 10 or so on the smaller model. The smaller model exceeded my Z height, so it had to be cut as 3 separate slices which were then bonded together after cutting. The larger model was 11 feet long and 6.5 feet wide so it had to be cut in separate pieces and bonded in the end as well.

We applied a thick coat of TSF-45 high solids texture coat that we had tinted by our local paint store to match the design specifications.

Ultimately, we were able to successfully create two amazing exhibit models for the Royal Alberta Museum.

This was an incredible project and an incredible honor to be contracted by RAM not once, but twice, to create topographic maps for their new museum location.

Hi, I’m Jason.  Founded in 2012, Rapid Gantry specializes in unique, three-dimensional signs. Whether you’re a business owner looking to create a beautiful, professional sign to welcome customers, or you’re an individual looking to gift a family member or a friend with a custom sign, I can help.

I enjoy being challenged, and the process of working collaboratively with a client to produce a product that exceeds expectations. Effective communication and transparency is what guides my process, while passion is what drives my work. I bring the same level of commitment to every project, whether it’s large or small.

My signs are displayed throughout British Columbia. Each sign is unique and distinct, and reflects the story of the client’s business or home. Over the past eight years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many diverse clients. Recent accomplishments include crafting two exhibit pieces for the Royal Alberta Museum, which are displayed in their Natural History hall.  You can call me at 250-600-1846 or send me an email.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane material used extensively in the tooling industry.  It is a closed-cell, rigid, dimensionally-stable substrate that is ideal for use in a number of different tooling applications.

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