Vacu-forming With HDU: North American Aviation

vacuum form mold using HDU

North American Aviation’s list of accomplishments reads like a who’s who of U.S Aviation Superpowers. They have been an intricate part of our country’s dominant air transportation industry since the early 90’s.  Specializing in composite interior and exterior aircraft parts, NAA sports a state of the art in-house Tooling, Design, and CNC division. Be it low temperature or high temperature, fiberglass or carbon fiber, pre-preg or epoxy molds, master models or mockups, they have the experience to produce the most difficult configurations with precision and accuracy.

With the elevation of today’s technology and advancement in superior materials, NAA naturally uses the top of the line tooling board from Coastal Enterprises. I had the opportunity to speak with the director of Tooling and CNC div., Tyler Allen, about their department’s use of Precision Board Plus and how it has become an integral part of their company’s success. The engineering team will begin by designing a part, send the final design file to Tyler’s department, launching his group into action CNC’ing the pattern.

When vacuum forming, if the tool is going to see heat, they like to use Precision Board High Temp Plus, PBHT-60, which will hold its configurations at a casual 300 degrees, they will then drill holes into the board and vacuum form kydex or lexan parts off that tool. When they are using Precision Board Plus on small production runs it is stable enough to machine and make the parts directly. Utilizing it for Master Molds NAA will procure PBHT-30 or PBHT-40, mill it and manufacture a production tool out of the HDU master. Here is a picture of an interior vacu-formed part made from Precision Board Plus by NAA.

Tyler’s first step to finishing Precision Board Plus is to apply an industrial lacquer as a sealant, sand smooth, and then apply mold release wax to ensure an accurate and detailed part. Because the HDU has been lightly coated with the release wax the composite can be easily removed from the mold with minimal disruption of the actual part.

Another way NAA utilizes Tooling Board is by using our Low Temp Precision Board Plus for vacuum and CNC holding fixtures. Instead of building a heavy aluminum composite holding fixture they use a block of PBLT-30 or PBLT-40 cut the pattern and relief into it, select the tooling hole locations and hold the parts to cut. After using our high temp material as a master tool they will then come back and machine relief into it and use that as a CNC holding fixture. The advantage to using HDU as a holding fixture is the fact that it is much lighter than aluminum, it offers practical pliability in case of machine error and it does not affect their router bits when cutting relief. Imagine drilling 8” inches into hardened aluminum, how much fun do you think that bit is having?

Tyler and NAA are witnessing a composite tooling boom with the innovation of new technologies and the development of new aircraft. This increase is especially notable because of the OEM’s block point design changes that are being implemented to refine and upgrade interiors allowing for sleeker ultramodern designs. These advances in technology have produced quite the workload for companies like North American Aviation who are ready and able to handle the increase in composite tooling. For more information or to view their list of capabilities visit North American Aviation’s website at

New Product Release – 70 pcf. Precision Board Plus!

Coastal Enterprises is proud to announce the release of our newest product, and highest density – 70 pcf. Precision Board Plus HDU! After numerous customers expressed interest in higher density HDU, we put our R & D teams to work and are now in full-scale production of PBLT-70.

Ideal for composite layup tooling, prototyping, foundry patterns, vacuum form molds and autoclave tools, PBLT-70 offers increased durability and compressive strength for many applications.


PBLT: 200˚F

Sheet sizes:

20″x60″, 24″x60″, 45″x60″, 30″x80″, 45″x60″, 4’x8′, 4’x10′, 5’x8′, and 5’x10′


Anything from 1/4″ to 24″ thick

Need a custom size block? Check out this blog entry about how our custom size blocks decrease machining time.

Interested in seeing a sample of PBLT-70 or PBHT-70? Call us at: (800) 845-0745 or email us at: