How Berkeley Formula Racing Uses Precision Board Tooling

The following Precision Board Guest Blog is written by Hunter Wheeler, a student of engineering at U.C. Berkeley.  Hunter is part of the Berkeley Formula Racing program and describes how the Formula SAE Team used Precision Board urethane tooling board to make one-off molds for the carbon fiber pieces of their race car.

formula racing

In Hunter’s own words…

The Precision Board tooling board donations provided to us by Coastal Enterprises is an invaluable part of our manufacturing and we wouldn’t be able to make our carbon fiber aerodynamic package, bodywork, or custom seat without it (Ed note: Coastal provides material to schools through our Donation Program.  Students will typically bond pieces together for their final product).  I’ll give a brief rundown of our design and manufacturing process in this blog.

We begin our design season by learning and reviewing aerodynamics fundamentals from textbooks and research papers. We set specifications for our target CLA (Downforce), CDA (Drag), package weight, and center of pressure using a LapSimulation model written by members of our team in MATLab. This model simulates the race car driving the different events at competition and gives an estimated points gain (or loss) for changes in parameters such as those listed above. We choose designs to pursue for the season after an analysis of this model, testing from previous years, and through consulting literature.

We model our wings and bodywork in SolidWorks and run Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations in ANSYS Fluent.

formula racing

After design, each carbon fiber component is manufactured on a one-off urethane mold made out of Precision Board. We start by cutting the foam to the required size, and glue sheets of urethane together to reach the necessary thickness for each mold.

The foam is then machined on our customer built CNC router.

formula racing

We take the 3D models of our wings from SolidWorks and convert these to coordinates the CNC router can interpret. This process gives us a female profile for each wing half. We then apply a few layers of gelcoat to the surface of the mold using a paint spray gun to achieve a hard surface that can be polished to a smooth finish.

After sanding, waxing, and buffing the gelcoat, we lay-up carbon fiber on the mold.

formula racing

This is enclosed in a vacuum bag and placed in an industrial oven to cure.

After about 6 hours, the carbon fiber has cured and we are able to remove a wing half.

This process is completed for each of the wings, body work panels, and any other carbon fiber components we manufacture. We then bond these wing-halves together and do some post processing to achieve our final manufactured profiles.

formula racing

You can check out a video below we made from testing our vehicle at Crow’s Landing.

The Berkeley Formula Racing team has already competed for 2019.  See the results in the chart below and keep an eye out for our 2020 car!

Formula SAE is an international engineering design competition that provides ambitious college students the unique opportunity to enhance their engineering design and project management skills through practical application. Berkeley Formula Racing creates a formula-style, single-seat race car over the course of a school year in order to participate in FSAE Lincoln, a competition between 80 teams every June. The competition is comprised of dynamic events to test the vehicle’s performance and reliability, and static events, to test the rigor and feasibility of the engineering design and business strategy. The competition pushes the boundaries of conventional learning, pushing students to develop skills applicable to the professional world that are overlooked in traditional school curriculum.

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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Precision Board Donations: Supporting the Future of Composites

Precision Board donations

A collection of commemorative sponsor photos we’ve received from student engineering teams over the years.

Sponsoring Schools with Precision Board Donations

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.

Precision Board donations

A shipment of donated Precision Board arrives at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineering campus, to be transformed into a 3000 MPG SAE supermileage car.

Over the years, we’ve provided hundreds of shipments of Precision Board donations to schools all over the country. Universities, community colleges, even high schools have received donated Precision Board for various projects. Increasing numbers of schools are introducing their students to HDU tooling as its popularity continues to grow within many high profile industries.

Precision Board donations

The University of Michigan FSAE team uses donated Precision Board to fabricate their FSAE vehicle, bonding segments together and routing the pieces to form a composite layup tool.

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.

Precision Board donations

Iowa State University PrISUm Solar Car team uses Precision Board to fabricate composite car parts using an autoclave. Their Hyperion solar car completed the 1650-mile course with an average speed of 65 MPH.

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. 

Precision Board donations

Cornell University FSAE car, with a carbon-fiber frame and turbocharged Honda CBR engine.

We are proud to be a sponsor of some of the most motivated and talented student teams in the country, and we’re always looking for more. If you have a school sponsorship need, please send us an email detailing your application and requirements, or request a sample.  

University of Nevada, Reno Concrete Canoe team paddles to first place in a regional competition

University of Nevada, Reno Concrete Canoe team paddles to first place in a regional competition