Design For Manufacturability in the Architectural Field

Having a vivid imagination in the design world is an asset, but being able to realistically apply it in the real world is a learned skill.

Within the Department of Architectural Technology at the New York City College of Technology (CUNY) , the Introduction to Computation and Fabrication course aims to teach students introductory CNC techniques, with added focus on Design for Manufacturability.

Using parametric software such as Grasshopper in combination with RhinoCAM, students are taught to create their own tool paths. These tool paths are then “proofed” on a CNC machine using a variety of materials, such as Precision Board, to analyze the design for imperfections or errors.

If the student has designed a complex tool path with many tight, narrow valleys, they may realize as a consequence that the machining time is far too long – with the result being a design that no customer could afford.

If the tool path proves successful, the design is then produced on materials including Precision Board Plus HDU. The goal of this is to teach students that when they design something, they should also have a pretty good idea of the output technology required to bring their design to life.

Additional information on the Introduction to Computation and Fabrication course, taught by prof. Anne Leonhardt and Zach Downey, can be seen at:

Brian Ringley, Technology Coordinator for the National Science Foundation ATE Fuse Lab grant program which initiated the course, sent us pictures of several projects featuring Precision Board donated by Coastal Enterprises from their exhibitions.

These pictures show student-created projects made using Precision Board Plus PBLT-4, PBLT-6 and PBLT-8 for the Intersections 2013 exhibition:




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This project was created by esteemed artist and designer Francis Bitonti as part of a student-artist collaboration exhibit called “Intersections” held in 2012. The project is titled the “Schistose Mirror” and shows Precision Board Plus PBLT-10 mounted onto Trupan MDF being cut on a CNC router. After it was CNC cut it was professionally painted by an auto body shop. See more work from Francis Bitonti at:







Family-Themed Cruise Line Debut’s New Water Slide


Who do you call if you’re a discerning family-themed cruise line looking to build a state of the art water slide featuring a signature element from one of your most beloved and iconic characters? The answer is FormaShape 3D Architectural Design Solutions of British Columbia. The design called for a giant replica of the white-gloved hand from everyone’s favorite cartoon mouse supporting the main structure of the slide. Patrons had to immediately recognize the hand, so every detail of the larger-than-life appendage became important, right down to the fingers, 3 of them, and thumb…..good trivia question!

Finished Precision Board Plus plug showing bonded segments used to construct the machining block

Because of its strength, rigidity and ease of machining, FormaShape chose to machine the FRP tooling plug from Precision Board Plus (both PBLT-4 and PBLT-8). Once the CAD design was approved by the client, the toolpath was fed into their 5-axis CNC router to machine the segmented plugs that made up the hand. According to Sean Conneely, Custom Fabrication Manager at FormaShape, new systems were developed for both the segmented plug and moulding techniques used on this project. In addition, special fabrication techniques had to be developed for both the plug and moulded parts. The precise Open Moulded process used by FormaShape ensures that the final FRP panels that make up the finished hand are within +/- 1mm of the Precision Board Plus machined plug!

Precision OM process used to manufacture the FRP segments that make up the hand


Having designed, engineered and manufactured the entire slide, the job of installation naturally fell to FormaShape – Whitewater West Industries. Check out their websites at and for more examples of their work.

FormaShape attaching the slide flume to the supporting hand


Did you know Coastal Enterprises makes support fixtures?

Coastal Enterprises will fabricate a support fixture for any Precision Board Plus tool. This support tool can be used for tool transport, CNC machining, lay up of composite laminate, oven/autoclave curing, final inspection, and every other process procedure. Support structures are designed with all-direction casters, leveling jacks, and tool hold down attachments that can be tightened during machining, etc. and loosened during oven/autoclave cycling. The custom hold down attachment allows independent movement between the tooling block and the support fixture.

Call us at (800) 845-0745 for more information or send us drawing of your tool.