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

Topographical Modelmaking In A Nutshell!

With millions of data points and tolerances tighter than some high-powered engines, topographical modelmaking, or digital elevation modeling, is a learned art requiring a keen eye for details.

Topographical models are frequently used by a variety of industries including geologists, architects, construction firms and land developers. They are often seen in museums and visitor centers, and are a great way for people to get a “Bird’s eye view” of a large area to analyze anything from geological changes to potential construction sites.


We recently had a chance to speak with topographical model maker Donn Arrell, owner of Clinton Systems, about some of the beautiful models he has made over the years. Donn’s first step before building a model is securing an accurate data source. This can be in the form of a CAD drawing provided by the customer, or a drawing acquired from a source like the National Elevation Dataset (NED).

After selecting the resolution and scaling the drawing (which is a lot more work than it sounds), Donn will run a simulation which will indicate how long it will take to CNC machine. It’s then a matter of selecting the material (Donn uses Precision Board Plus), and starting the CNC on its course.

Most of the models Donn produces can be finished in a day or two, but occasionally large projects require a week or more of running the router day and night! (Which didn’t surprise us after seeing some of the models!) Many of these models will then go onto another professional Modelmaking shop who may paint it and add LED’s or even moving parts.

Mars HiRise images of sites in Gale Crater at 600 data points per inch. Models represent areas of about 3 miles x 8 miles (8″ x 22″).


Donn prefers using Precision Board Plus HDU for his topographical models because:

“Precision Board offers a broad density range. Hard to damage touchable models can be made with the higher density foams. Cost sensitive projects gain cost benefits with lower density foams. Having a single source provider for these materials is a great advantage.”

Clinton Systems has been in business for over 20 years and specializes in high quality, high-resolution topographical models. Be sure to take a look at their website for more info:

All of these models are made out of Precision Board Plus HDU.

Model of a recent NASA Mars Rover landing site in the Gale Crater. Carved into Precision Board Plus PBLT-20 at 600 data points per inch resolution. Using high resolution data from a Mars HiRISE image.



The “Couteau”, a region of North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. Made using Precision Board Plus PBLT-20.



A site study model for new construction in in Guam from survey data. Made using Precision Board Plus PBLT-10.HDUTopographicalModel


A 15′ rendering of Sinnemahoning State Park based on the USGS 3 meter high resolution Lidar data. Made in 3 height matched sections from Precision Board Plus PBLT-20.PrecisionBoardElevationModel

Small architectural base model for easy transport. Note the recess for inserting a 3D building model in the lower right hand corner. Steps clearly show drainage and grading. The data source is an architectural CAD rendering. Precision Board Plus PBLT-20.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Ski resort with some vertical exaggeration to emphasize the ski slopes. Data from the USGS National Elevation Database. Precision Board Plus PBLT-20.


Base for a site development presentation model, 8′ x 12′ made from Precision Board Plus PBLT-6 in 3 height matched sections.
Precision Board Plus HDU

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft To Commence Launch To Space Station

SpaceX and NASA announced that they will be launching the Dragon Space Capsule on April 30th to the International Space Station. You may remember our previous blog: SpaceX Dragon Space Capsule – 360˚ View, which includes a 360˚ interior view of the spacecraft.

The mission is designed as a comprehensive evaluation as one of the final steps before SpaceX becomes the first commercial carrier delivering payloads to the ISS. The goal is to demonstrate SpaceX’s capability to launch, rendezvous with the ISS and return to earth.

Mission time is roughly 4 days, and Dragon will dock at the space station for 18 days, offloading 521 kilograms of cargo and loading 660 kilograms from the station for return to earth. SpaceX also has 2 additional launches planned for later this year.

Check out the original article, SpaceX Given Green Light For First Launch To Space Station, courtesy of

United States Air Traffic Video Simulation

The United States is currently in the process of undertaking the largest transformation of air traffic control ever attempted. Known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, it is a multi-billion dollar technology effort to make air travel safer, more flexible and more efficient.

NASA is one of several U.S. government agencies that play a crucial role in helping to plan, develop and implement NextGen. Some of the planned improvements include new landing techniques that save fuel and time, computer models that predict more accurately the influence of weather on flight paths, and air traffic control solutions that allow more takeoffs and landings in the same amount of time.

How will this affect individual consumers? According to Leighton Quon, project manager of NextGen Systems Analysis, Integration and Evaluation at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, “it will allow more planes in the sky, which allows more air travel options. Route efficiency will also improve, getting consumers to destinations quicker, and with fewer emissions. It will also reduce noise for people living near airports.”

They also have a very interesting video simulating a day’s air travel over the United States, complete with major air hubs. Did you know that during peak travel times there can be more than 5,000 aircraft over America at once?

To see more questions answered by Leighton Quon, and the rest of this story on NASA’s website, click here.

Also check out this United States air traffic video and see how storms, time of day and location affect air travel for millions of people in real-time simulation. The video also shows how aircraft controllers were able to ground all aircraft in the United States within 3 hours on September 11, 2001.

Our blog is updated twice weekly with interesting news topics, tips and featured customers. To receive notifications when the blog is updated either Like us on Facebook, Connect to us on LinkedIn, or Follow us on Twitter.



Robot Designed To Leap Over Asteroids

NASA has unveiled a giant new robot known as Athlete, or All Terrain Hex Limbed Extra Terrestrial Explorer.  Thirteen feet tall, weighing 5,000 lbs. and boasting a payload of over 32,000 lbs, it is designed to tackle any obstacle it may encounter on the moon or an asteroid. Since it is so heavy, a vehicle like this needs large wheels for driving over large obstacles, and to prevent it from sinking into soft sand.  Instead of tackling the nightmare of adding larger wheels and larger motors, the engineers sidestepped the problem by having the wheels on articulated limbs, making it much more maneuverable. It also has the ability to JUMP over obstacles!

In addition, Athlete is also equipped with an array of stereoscopic camera’s, allowing 3D vision. This will allow the controller the ability to navigate whichever foreign world Athlete may find itself on with complete depth perception.

Check out the video of Athlete in action, and more exciting details about Athlete at . The dexterity of this robot is AMAZING!