Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX) Wrap

Coastal Enterprises was on hand exhibiting at this year’s Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX), held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.  We talked to a lot of people who had great questions about using Precision Board urethane tooling board for their upcoming projects.  Here’s a wrap up of our time at the trade show, including some trends and top questions, and a shout out to our distributors who were on hand at the show.


We have some fun real-life examples of how our urethane tooling board material is used in the composites industry, including this master mold for a wing flap fabricated from our PBLT-15 Precision Board.  It shows the various stages of the mold making process, from rough machining to finish machining and then coating with Duratec Primer.  The photo on the right shows the final finished wing flap.

We had plenty of samples on hand of various densities of Precision Board in both our low-temp PBLT (<200ºF) and our high-temp PBHT (<300ºF).  Coastal Enterprises now offers 16 densities, ranging from 4lb up to 75lb.  Our brand new density is PBLT-25/PBHT-25.

This year at CAMX we were lucky enough to have a sample on hand of a boat hull prototype made from Precision Board urethane tooling board.  The entire surface is coated with Duratec Primer and then sanded and wet sanded and partially covered in high-gloss Top Coat on one half to show the different coating options (seen in the photo on the far right).  You can really tell the difference between the two halves when viewing this sample piece in person.  Coastal Enterprises is proud to partner with Hawkeye Industries, manufacturer of Duratec coatings.

Several members of our distributor network were also on hand at the show exhibiting, including Composites One, Northern Composites, Professional Plastics, Plastics Materials Inc. and RevChem Composites.  All of these distributors carry Precision Board urethane tooling board and can be contacted with questions about pricing and availability.

Some of our manufacturing team went down to the CAMX show to check out the latest happenings in composites and advanced materials.  They were particularly fond of the Predator replica in the RevChem Composites booth.  Made using various urethane materials provided by RevChem, this statue is an example of the work they do within the film and television industry for prop-making.

Trends at CAMX

Soft Tooling: With tighter timelines and deeper exploration into ways to process composite materials, soft tooling is becoming more popular than ever.  Soft tooling (like Precision Board urethane) over hard tooling (metals like steel, aluminum and invar) has made a huge difference when it comes to short production runs and has given the industry greater flexibility when it comes to design changes and cost savings in terms of time and labor.  The change from hard tooling to soft tooling was a long time coming, but it’s already made an impact on the composites industry and Coastal Enterprises has been there since the beginning.  Interested to learn more about how Precision Board can fit into your soft tooling needs?  Call our knowledgeable sales staff with your technical questions, get a quote or learn more about how our custom-bonded layup tools can save you time and money.

The advantages of using soft tooling are as follows:

  1. Shorter Machining Time
  2. Less Wear on Your Machine
  3. Lighter Weight
  4. Easily Accommodates Design Changes
  5. Lower Overall Project Cost
  6. Shorter Overall Tool Production Time

Advanced Composites: Coastal Enterprises distributor Composites One was on hand as a member of the Closed Molds Alliance (comprised of three industry experts: Composites One, Magnum Venus Products, and RTM North Technologies).  They were talking about closed molding versus open molding.  More and more manufacturers are making the switch and Precision Board should be in the mix when considering your options. The conversion to closed molding is the practical solution for ensuring competitiveness and long-term growth. Changing from open to closed molding can offer many benefits, including:

  • Reduced waste and emissions, which leads to a cleaner, healthier environment as well as lower material and disposal costs.
  • A more consistent, repeatable process, which makes composites more competitive than alternative materials.
  • Reduced cycle times, which leads to higher productivity and lower labor costs.

With a range of density options up to 75 pcf and a high-temp option (continuous temperatures up to 300ºF), Precision Board urethane tooling board is a great choice for use in advanced composites applications.  Give us a call to find out more.

Questions at CAMX

One-off Tooling Vs Production Tooling: Many questions about production style tooling were asked this year.  People wanted to know if Precision Board could be used for short run one-off tooling or production style tooling.  It absolutely can!  Coastal offers sixteen densities of Precision Board urethane tooling board with the higher-end densities (75 pcf on the high end) more suited for production style tooling.

Why Coastal: As people explore all their options for tooling, they oftentimes want to know why they should go with Precision Board urethane tooling board over other tooling boards.  We’re happy to answer the question as we offer the most options and flexibility of any tooling board company in the market.

When you go with Precision Board, you get the Coastal Advantage:

  • 16 densities of Precision Board in high-temp and low-temp.
  • 8 sheet sizes ranging from 20″x60″ to 5’x10′.
  • Thickness ranging from 1/2″ to 24″ in ANY increment.
  • Fast turnaround of DAYS not weeks.
  • Custom-bonding of step-tools and blocks.
  • Free technical support.
  • Distributor network.
  • Protective packaging of your order.

We’ll be baaaack next year in Florida for CAMX 2020 and hope to see you there!

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.

Request free samplesget a quote or sign up for weekly e-blasts packed with helpful information.

National Composites Week – Coastal’s School Donation Program

National Composites Week is designed to introduce young people and others in the community to the composites industry, the career opportunities available, and demonstrate the contributions composites make to the local, national and global economy.  Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board, a high-density urethane tooling board used extensively in composites, including industries like aerospace, automotive and marine and in a variety of applications including molds and prototypes. 

We’ll be sharing various ways that Coastal supports composites throughout the week.

Today’s Topic: Coastal’s School Donation Program

Coastal Enterprises is proud to host a school donation program that supports university projects like FSAE cars, concrete canoes, human-powered vehicles, submarines and more.  For young engineering students, taking a project from concept to completion is an excellent learning tool. It pushes students to be involved with every level of the production process, giving them a thorough look into the challenges of a professional engineering project.

national composites week

Here at Coastal Enterprises, we place a lot of importance on the future of composite materials. Space travel, aeronautics, construction, and many other industries depend on the advancement of different composites technologies, and we want to see them flourish in the coming years. The next generation of composites professionals are currently enrolled in engineering, architecture, and design programs in schools all over the country, which is why we do everything we can to support students. We offer Precision Board donations to any school, and we welcome the opportunity to sponsor as many schools as we can.

national composites week

The majority of our donations go to university teams competing in events like Formula SAE, ASME Human Powered Vehicle Competition, and North American Solar Challenge. Members of these student teams are required to design a vehicle, source the materials, fabricate and assemble the vehicle components, and finally race their creations at an annual competition.

You can find out more information about our school donation program by clicking HERE.

National Composites Week Schedule

Monday- Coastal’s School Donation Program
Tuesday- What is soft tooling and how has it changed the composites industry?
Wednesday- The benefits of Precision Board over other tooling boards
Thursday- The creation and benefits of Precision Board step-tools
Friday- Coastal’s long history and roots in the space program

A group of composites industry leaders has announced the creation and launch of the inaugural National Composites Week, Aug. 26-30, 2019. The goal of National Composites Week is to encourage manufacturers from throughout the composites manufacturing supply chain — raw material suppliers, convertors, designers, toolmakers, fabricators, educators, students — to celebrate and bring attention to the myriad ways that composite materials and composites manufacturing contribute to the products and structures that shape the American manufacturing landscape today.  More information is available HERE

National Composites Week was organized and launched by braiding specialist A&P Technology, global advanced composites company Hexcel and media partner CompositesWorld magazine.

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.

Request free samplesget a quote or sign up for weekly e-blasts packed with helpful information.

Chuck Miller Featured on Composites World Podcast

Chuck Miller, President of Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, was recently featured on the Composites World podcast. He discussed his background and involvement with the evolving world of composites and tooling from his time as a Manufacturing Engineer on the Saturn S-II, the second stage of the Saturn V Moon Launch Vehicle (fabricated by North American Aviation in Seal Beach, CA) through the founding of his company, Coastal Enterprises, and into what the future may hold for composites.

chuck miller

Chuck Miller, founder and president of tooling board manufacturer Coastal Enterprises, details tooling board technology and how it continues to evolve. 

Listen to the podcast on the Composites World website HERE or find it on iTunes and Google Play.

CW Talks: The Composites Podcast is a biweekly podcast that highlights the people and technologies shaping the world of composites. Interviews feature guests with expertise and insight about where composites have been and where they are headed.

CompositesWorld is a business-to-business media brand that produces a monthly print magazine, digital media, research and live events for the global composites market. The CompositesWorld editorial team and expert contributors produce information on new product technology, operational best practices, market intelligence and industry news.

Check out some photos from Chuck’s time on the Saturn program as well as some photos from the early HDU tooling board work he was involved with in the aerospace industry.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”2″ gal_title=”Chucks NASA Photos”]

UPDATE: Check out the blog post that Composites World did on the podcast!

Coastal Enterprises is a privately held company founded in 1973 by Mr. Chuck Miller, President, after his participation in the Saturn S-II Space Program at Rockwell International. The Saturn Launch Vehicle used polyurethane foam as its exterior fuel tank insulator, and it was at this time that his experience with this unique material began.

Products manufactured by Coastal Enterprises and sold internationally since 1973 were primarily for the machining industry. They were high density urethane blocks used to “proof” computer programs on numerically controlled milling machines. Ease in machining and lower cost made urethane the preferred choice over proofing on the actual steel used for the part being machined.

Initial development of Precision Board began in early 1989. By redesigning the chemical formulation and manufacturing methods of our machining product, Coastal Enterprises developed Precision Board Plus fabrication material with physical characteristics to meet the rigorous demands of an artist’s creation and the machining standards of today’s 5 axis milling machines alike.

You can get free samples, request a quote and find technical data and information sheets at

How it’s Made: Fabricating a Composite Truck Cab

composite truck cabSince 1999, Daycab Company, in Rockwood, TN, has been using composites to retrofit class 8 commercial trucks with sleeper cabs to day cabs. Why would anyone be interested in having the sleeper cab removed, and a composite day cab installed you ask? Once a commercial truck gets to a certain age, many fleets will not run them and purchase new ones. The old trucks are then auctioned off, and are popular among local farmers, short haul companies and dealerships. The large abundance means they sell quite cheap.[divider_padding]

composite truck cab

Peterbilt semi truck with sleeper original sleeper installed

composite truck cab

Peterbilt with sleeper removed and void showing

composite truck cab

Precision Board rough shaped and glued together

When first speaking with Zach Martin, Product Design Specialist and Machine Programmer at Daycab Company, I was surprised to hear that commercial trucks were quite desirable with the sleeper cabs removed. The reasons for this vary: farmers like non-sleeper cabs because loading in grain or other products at a station might have a height restriction that a sleeper can’t meet. Removing a sleeper also saves on weight, which could instead be used for carrying more cargo.

composite truck cab

Machining for male mold #1

composite truck cab

Machining of male mold #2

composite truck cab

Machining of male mold #3

Short haul companies have the same issue as farmers with the weight of the sleeper and cargo, and because they work in more localized areas (farms, rock yards and landscaping companies), they require better visibility out the back.

composite truck cab

Daycab logo being machined into male mold

composite truck cab

Precision Board male mold machining process complete

composite truck cab

Sealer and Vinyl Ester applied and being sanded

Precision Board Plus HDU is used to manufacture the part used to fill the void created once the sleeper cab is removed. In this case, a Peterbilt semi truck is going to be converted. With the cab removed and the void exposed, Precision Board Plus HDU is machined using a 5-axis CNC router. This male mold is then coated with a sealer, vinyl ester, and is sanded. Red hard gelcoat and fiberglass is applied, to start the female mold. Plaster, fiberglass and resin complete the final stages.

composite truck cab

Red hard gelcoat and fiberglass/resin coat (start of female mold)

composite truck cab

Plaster, fiberglass, and resin coating to finalize making of female mold

composite truck cab

Production ready female mold completed and pulled from Precision Board male mold

Once the female mold is completed, gelcoat and fiberglass is shot to make the final production part. The part is completed by being trimmed on a CNC machine, and is then painted and installed on the Peterbilt truck, providing a great looking finished product.

composite truck cab

Gelcoat and fiberglass/resin shot into female mold

composite truck cab

Production part pulled from female mold

composite truck cab

Part completed by being trimmed on a CNC machine

Daycab Company is owned by Marc Wagers and converts over 1500 commercial trucks a year. They offer pre-built kits, can ship anywhere, and also have their own install shop. Check out additional details on their website at

composite truck cab

Part painted and installed on truck

composite truck cab

Final product: Peterbilt Day Hauler


CAMX 2016: Coastal Enterprises at Booth J97


Coastal Enterprises at CAMX Booth J97


From September 27-29 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Coastal Enterprises will be hosting a booth at one of the largest gathering of composites professionals in the world: the Composites Advanced Materials Expo, or CAMX. This is more than just a trade show: CAMX combines an exhibit hall with dozens of top-tier exhibitors, keystone speeches by some of the industry’s leading innovators, and individual courses to expand attendees’ knowledge of composites and manufacturing. CAMX is a joint effort between the ACMA and SAMPE associations, two of the top organizers of advanced engineering events all over the world. This is the cant-miss event of the year for composites professionals and hobbyists alike, and you can be sure there’s something for everyone at CAMX.


Coastal Enterprises will be hosting Booth J97, a corner booth bordering the University Pavilion. Come pay us a visit – We’ll have Precision Board samples available, along with some finished tools and models on display to showcase the material’s capabilities. And as always, members of our experienced technical team will be on hand to answer questions, provide guidance for ongoing projects, and help get you in touch with a Precision Board distributor. CAMX is one of our favorite events of the year, a chance to collaborate with composites professionals from all over the world and learn a little more about this incredible industry we’re a part of.

We want to see you there! CLICK HERE to print your free passes to the exhibition, and be sure to stop by Booth J97!