Sawatzky Guest Blog: A Love Letter to 30lb Precision Board HDU

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to announce a series of guest blogs written by Dan Sawatzky of Imagination Corporation, which will be posted on the Precision Board Blog each month. This month Dan Sawatzky goes into great detail on why he prefers to use PBLT-30 Precision Board HDU almost exclusively over lighter densities like 15lb and 20lb.  He also talks about using a range of Precision Board densities depending on the specific project, from PBLT-4 all the way up to PBLT-60.

In Dan’s own words…

We love Coastal Enterprises Precision Board! We use TONS of it each year (literally).

Precision Board HDU is manufactured in a wide range of densities. It is measured in pounds per cubic foot. We have used everything from 4lb (PBLT-4) board to 60lb (PBLT-60) board in our shop (Ed note: the highest density of Precision Board is PBLT-75 and the lowest is PBLT-4). Which density we use depends on what we are creating. For quick sculptures (typically study models) which will be covered in sculpting epoxy we love the 4lb. It is so soft we can carve it quickly with a variety of hand tools. We typically keep a sheet or two of four inch thick stock on hand. We have used various weights of board through the years but generally stick with 30lb (PBLT-30) Precision Board. If we have a project (such as a door panel) that is in a high traffic area we will use 40lb (PBLT-40) or even 60lb board. We keep a couple of sheets on hand for projects like this.

The ’standard’ in the sign industry is 15lb (PBLT-15) or 18lb (PBLT-18) board and occasionally 20lb (PBLT-20) board.

precision board

While most sign people I know tend to go for the lighter densities (15-20lb Precision Board) we favour 30lb board almost exclusively.

It makes perfect sense to us and the reasons are many.

The 30lb board holds detail superbly and is much tougher than lighter weights. It can be machined at the same quick speeds (typically at 300 inches per minute) with our MultiCam CNC router.

Imagine you work on a sign for many hours. During this process you transfer the almost complete piece to a different work table. There’s a screw laying there which you don’t see. If you are using 20lb board or less you will soon have to make a repair. How much did you save by buying lighter board? If you count your time properly you most likely just lost more money than you might have saved by using lessor boards. The 30lb Precision Board can easily survive those types of bumps and bruises without a scratch. Some people I know use a lighter board and then apply a hard coat to protect it. That makes no sense to me for you lose hard earned detail in the process plus you incur extra material and labour costs as well.

The heavier weight material is easy to sell too. We keep a variety of labeled samples on hand for just this purpose.

When I am explaining to a new customer the quality materials we use in our shop I grab a 15lb or 18lb sample piece and easily run my fingernail into the surface. It leaves a nasty scar. The customer is always shocked. I explain that this is what our competition typically uses. Then I hand a 30 lb sample to my customer and ask them to do the same. It doesn’t leave a mark. I ask the customer if they are willing to pay an extra $50 or $100 for that kind of quality. The answer is always YES! As easy as that I’ve sold them on a premium material and made some extra cash in the process.

precision board

We generally keep three thicknesses on hand; 1”, 1.5” and 2”.  We have some other thickness left over from previous projects which includes some .5”, 3/4”, and 1.25” which we draw from as needed. It is less expensive to order extra and stock it than to make a panic order and pay a premium for the rush.

Because of space considerations (lack of storage) and ease of handling we keep only one density in stock. We buy once or twice each year – in bulk. For a single sheet our shipping costs can equal the price of the material. When we buy a pallet or two the freight is generally less than three times the price of shipping a single sheet. The savings add up in a BIG hurry! Plus I’ll bet your dealer will happily negotiate a better price when you purchase a large order. And if we order a year’s supply of glues and primer at the same time- those boxes ride for free on top of the pallet for further savings.

We are about half way through our most recent order of Precision Board. We keep it under a roof out in the storage area. Another twenty sheets is kept in the router room for handy access.

precision board

Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation is a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous national and international awards.

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force and visual storyteller extraordinaire. His art career spans almost fifty years of magic. Dan’s passion is to design and create imaginative places that take people from the normal world to a setting of delight and wonder.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.