Interactive Topographic Map by Top Sign and Graphics

interactive topographic map Precision Board

Interactive Topographic Map: Map-Making with Precision Board HDU

Precision Board HDU is great for creating dimensional signs of any size and shape, but it certainly doesn’t stop there: Precision Board is only limited by the ingenuity of the creator. We’re always searching for fresh, unique creations that show off the versatility of HDU, and today’s project by Casey Steinke of Top Sign and Graphics is exactly what we’re looking for. It’s an interactive topographic map in the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center, in the legendary Glacier National Park. The scale map measures an impressive 6’x7’, and depicts a tract of land from Idaho to Alberta, an area of over forty thousand square miles! The best part? It’s completely hand-painted. Let’s take a look at the build process. 


interactive topographic map Precision Board
Just like any good cartographer, Casey started out with the cold hard data. To plot the details of the display, he used Google Maps satellite images along with GeoTIFF files, which include additional data like map projection and elevation values. This data can then be input to a 3D modeling software like Autocad and converted into tool paths for a CNC router. After routing out the surface of his map, Casey was left with a very bumpy HDU blank in need of some paint.


interactive topographic map Precision Board
After routing came the first of many rounds of painting. Casey started by applying our FSC-88 WB primer to protect and seal the HDU, and to allow the paint to adhere correctly. For paint, he began with a neutral green base of latex acrylic paint, followed up by a coat of subdued brown to accentuate the jagged elevation changes. This shading does a lot to add visual depth and texture to the landscape.


interactive topographic map Precision Board
After the initial coats had dried, Casey started on the detail work. There were hundreds of miles of rivers and lakes that needed to be depicted on the map, and Casey hand-painted every inch on the topographic map surface. Flathead Lake and Pend Oreille Lake are featured on the map, as well as long stretches of the Columbia River, Flathead River, and more.


interactive topographic map Precision Board
Continuing on with the detail work, Casey painted the snowcapped peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains, which cover a large part of the surface. As you can see in the picture above, it was a huge undertaking. He also painted major trails in yellow, hand-tracing them as they snaked though the icy terrain. Once the painting was completely finished, Casey used a water-based clear coat to protect his work and give it a glossy sheen. 


interactive topographic map Precision Board
As if hand-painting more than 40,000 square miles of wilderness wasn’t enough, there was still more to be done. Casey began installing hundreds of LED lights to be linked to switches around the perimeter of the display. The idea was for visitors to be able to illuminate certain areas (National Park boundaries, Indian reservation borders, and more) at the touch of a button. Every LED was hand-placed and hand-wired, a process that took hours but made for an fun and interactive final product. 


interactive topographic map Precision Board
Finally, it was time for installation. The finished topographic map with LED’s was set in a robust wooden frame, with informational placards and the LED controls along the perimeter. The map was flanked by wooden frames with hanging informational signs, and backed by a large image of the sprawling national park. 

The interactive topographic map was a huge undertaking, but Casey Steinke and Top Sign and Graphics pulled it off without a hitch. The lifelike landscape is popular with visitors to the Discovery Center, and it’s a great way for outdoors enthusiasts to get a birds-eye view of their favorite national park. Be sure to take a look at the Top Sign and Graphics website to see more projects like this, or to commission a professional display of your own!

Business Signs by Gibbs Graphics


Gibbs Graphics cracks the code for memorable HDU business signs

Gibbs Graphics is a full-service marketing team based out of Leavenworth, Washington. With a talented team of artists and designers on their roster, they can tackle the marketing needs of a company from top to bottom. This includes designing and building some very cool dimensional business signs with Precision Board HDU! Check out some of their weatherproof creations from last winter.

This time around, the job was to fabricate a sign for the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, something fun and engaging to draw curious patrons from off the street. They designed a friendly-looking Bavarian nutcracker figure (affectionately nicknamed Karl) to hang above the heads of passersby. The nutcracker and its faux-wood mounting bracket would be made from Precision Board PBLT-18, then attached to steel frames for additional support.


The initial shapes for Karl the Nutcracker, the mounting bracket, and a secondary sign were carved on the shop’s AXYZ CNC router. The Gibbs Graphics crew routed out a front and back face for the nutcracker and the mounting brackets, then used hand tools for the detail carving. Both high-tech CNC routers and basic hand carving tools are equally effective on Precision Board, giving sign makers a lot of freedom in their tool selection. 


Next, the team primed their creations with our FSC-88 WB Primer. For painting, they used a bright color palette for Karl the Nutcracker and a faux-wood stain for the mounting bracket. You can see that the mounting bracket now closely resembles a long-handled nutcracker, right down to the acorn between the teeth! It’s this high level of detail work that really sets the piece apart and gives it personality.


The final step was to mount the two signs over the Nutcracker Museum itself. The two pieces provide some great atmosphere for the museum, and will definitely generate a lot of foot traffic. Another job well done by Gibbs Graphics! Be sure to check out their website for more of their handcrafted designs. And if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, give them a call at 509-548-1226 to commission some eye-catching dimensional signage of your own!

Weatherproof Signs with HDU

weatherproof signs

Weatherproof Signs: Outsmart the Weather with Precision Board!

Outdoor wooden signs are put in harm’s way every day. Any number of environmental conditions can compromise a wood sign: Rain, snow, hail, sleet, high humidity, mist, and many others. If moisture is allowed to penetrate a wood sign, it can cause rotting, cracking, warping, and peeling, all of which can irreparably damage a wooden sign. No matter the skill of the sign maker, if an exterior wood sign is exposed to moisture for long enough, it will degrade and eventually fail – Sooner rather than later. Wooden signs are not weatherproof signs!

weatherproof signs

Lunsford Sign Works | Colorado
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The good news is, wood isn’t the only option for dimensional signage, and it’s time to step into the modern world of sign making. Precision Board is a closed-cell High Density Urethane (HDU), which means it keeps water out! It absorbs no moisture, and stands up to temperature extremes with no degradation or breakdown. It’s perfect for outdoor signs and displays that need to withstand rain, snow, ice, sleet and high humidity. Even signs in drier climates can benefit from Precision Board’s moisture-repelling qualities: Repeated dousing with sprinklers or exposure to moist sea air can compromise a wood sign, but HDU stands up!

weatherproof signs

Sign Language | New York
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If you want the beauty of a hand-made wooden sign with the reliability of a modern material, high-density urethane is the only way to go. Available in 15 different densities and 8 standard sheet sizes, with thicknesses up to 24”, Precision Board HDU is the all-purpose substrate for the modern signage professional. Don’t let your handcrafted sign get beaten down by the elements: Outsmart the weather with Precision Board!

Just like every year, winter will be here before you know it! Click here to receive a FREE SAMPLE of Precision Board and get ready to step up your all-weather signage.

Fast shipping tooling board: Don’t settle for long lead times!

Fast shipping tooling board: Check out our 52-second video to see how we do it!

We understand how important it is to get the material you need, exactly when you need it. That’s why Coastal Enterprises maintains such a large inventory: It’s fast and easy to ship Precision Board that we already have in stock! We excel at rush jobs, short timelines, last-minute orders, and unexpected complications. If your back is against the wall, give us a call! Precision Board is fast shipping tooling board, so click here for free Precision Board samples.

fast shipping tooling board

Large custom-bonded Precision Board step tool

Coastal Enterprises sustains a comprehensive inventory of Precision Board HDU at all times, to ensure that we can meet your needs at a moment’s notice. We make it a point to keep high stock levels of all material: fifteen different densities of High Density Urethane in eight standard sheet sizes, all with thicknesses up to 24”. This makes us extremely versatile in the way we can fulfill orders, since we have such a large stockpile of Precision Board on hand. And since we understand the tight schedule of a typical composites manufacturing or sign-making project, we can work around your timeline to make sure you’re fully supplied with the material you need.

fast shipping tooling board

Custom-bonded blocks in various sizes

Fast shipping tooling board

CNC-routing Precision Board








On top of that, our highly skilled production team can perform in-house cutting for custom-sized sheets, as well as custom-bonded blocks, step tools, and filament-winding mandrels. Thanks to our experience and technical knowledge, we have specialized production capabilities that allow us to really think outside the box! Give us your craziest idea and we’ll give you a way to make it happen, and fast. Get your free Precision Board samples today, and find out what Coastal Enterprises can do to make your project happen! 

Suffolk University – 3D Design with Precision Board

Suffolk University HDU DesignSuffolk-University-HDU-Design

Suffolk University Students Design with Precision Board HDU

Precision Board is a truly user-friendly medium for art and design. It allows even the most entry-level artists, architects, and designers to create a tangible object from just an idea and some rudimentary tools. Whether the objective is structural, architectural, or abstract, anyone can design with Precision Board! Creating with Precision Board doesn’t require woodcarving expertise, CAD programming experience, or any other special talents. It’s easy to work with, and all it takes is a little inspiration, as students from Suffolk University found out recently.

Professor Bebe Beard of the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University contacted us a few months ago with a unique project idea for her 3D Design class. She wanted to offer her students the opportunity to create something from scratch, coming up with the design and assembling the final product all on their own. The plan was for students to start with an intact block of foam, cut it into individual components, and then reassemble the pieces to create a new and distinctly different shape. This is a valuable exercise in spatial awareness and the architectural mindset, allowing students to put theory into practice in short order.

Suffolk University HDU Design Suffolk University HDU Design

The students all started out with equal sized cubes of Precision Board, either PBLT-12 or PBLT-15. This density range is a good choice for design products like this, as our 12-20 PCF (pounds per cubic foot) Precision Board strikes a perfect balance between low weight and high durability. The students used a band saw to make six separate cuts through their Precision Board cube, ending up with seven individual pieces of HDU. If assembled together in the order they were cut, the pieces could be used to reform the cube. But the point of the project was to branch out and create something personal, so the students set to work. First, they sanded their cut pieces to create a smooth surface for painting and bonding. Using  Formula 560 canopy glue, the students bonded the HDU pieces together in a variety of unique patterns. The students painted their small statues with acrylic paint, either before or after they assembled the pieces together. Another aspect of the project was to examine the effects of lighting on their completed statue, and the students’ paint jobs really accentuate the different ways light falls across the structures.

Suffolk University HDU Design

As you can see, the assignment was a resounding success, and the students turned out some really impressive miniature display pieces. This project showcases how easy it is it design and create with Precision Board HDU foam, even without much prior experience in artistic design. We’d like to thank Bebe Beard for coming up with such a fresh and constructive way to use Precision Board. Be sure to check out her website to see some of the personal projects she’s worked on. Also, don’t forget to check out the New England School of Design at Suffolk University, an art school and university rolled into one.

Suffolk University HDU Design Suffolk University HDU Design

Suffolk University HDU Design