Precision Board FAQS - Coastal Enterprises
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Coastal just introduced Precision Board. Why is this a big deal?

Precision Board now has Eco-Friendly, environmental safeguarding, Green components. This state-of-the-art formula is not only easier on the planet but has also created a much tighter, finer cell structure, making it much easier to carve, prime, and paint; more chips, less dust. Carbon footprint = 3:1. Rapidly Renewable Materials = 23.9%. No VOC’s, Non-Toxic, Totally Inert, and no Carcinogens. Made in the USA.

Why does Precision Board stand up so well in exterior environments?

Precision Board high density urethane (HDU) is made of millions of tiny bubbles, or cells, that are mostly separate from each other. Since these cells are not interconnected neither moisture nor temperature can enter PB. This means PB does not warp or crack from water penetration.

Can Precision Board be used outside in all exterior environments?

Yes it can. Precision Board, being a closed cell product, absorbs no moisture. It is a fairly good insulator so temperature does not migrate into it. It has been tested from -423°F to +300°F with no degradation or breakdown. It doesn’t absorb water from high humidity, rain, snow, or ice so it does not expand or contract because of water intrusion. This means it doesn’t warp or crack and the paint lasts longer and stays brighter than on wood.

Does temperature cause Precision Board to expand or contract?

Yes it does. Virtually every material, whether it is metal, glass, wood, stone, or HDU, expands and contracts as it gets warmer and cooler. This movement, and it’s different for every material, is called Coefficient of Thermal Expansion or CTE. The CTE of Precision Board is 26 X 10-6. When an architect designs buildings, dams, houses, etc. the CTE of each different material is taken into consideration to allow for its required movement of Precision Board. Call us for how this applies to signage.

How long has high density urethane been around?

High density urethane has been used commercially as exterior insulation starting with the Saturn S-II moon launch vehicle in 1964, and as exterior insulation on the Alaskan Pipeline in 1970, still in service. Currently, in addition to being used as insulation for homes, water heaters, refrigerators, and freezers, it is used for signage, tooling, model making, boat building, and in many other places. Urethane is very versatile and track proven. Precision Board has been manufactured by Coastal Enterprises since 1972.

Is Precision Board heavier or lighter than wood?

The density of redwood is about 26 pounds per cubic foot. The standard Precision Board density for sandblasting is 15 pounds per cubic foot. A 1″ thick 4′ x 8′ sheet of PB-15 weighs 40 pounds. A similar sheet of redwood weighs almost twice as much.

What does density mean and how does it relate to high density urethane?

Density is the standard term for determining weight of a cubic foot of material, any material. A cubic foot is a cube that is 12″ x 12″ x 12″. Its weight is the density. The higher the density the thicker the cell wall and the tougher and heavier it is. Thicker cell walls means it takes more pressure to crush the cell wall. Heavier means there is more material in its makeup so it costs more. The only physical difference between a 4 pound density PB and a 60 pound density PB is the thickness of the cell wall. The cell wall thickness only determines toughness and has no affect on its weatherability, solvent resistance, etc.

Can I fiberglass over Precision Board without the solvents eating it?

Yes. None of the commonly used solvents such as lacquer thinner, methylene chloride, naphtha, mineral spirits, etc. will attack Precision Board.

Can Precision Board be cut with a hot wire?

No. Precision Board does not soften and dissolve with heat as does styrene. Precision Board can only be cut with tools that cut wood. If it won’t cut wood it won’t cut Precision Board.

Can Precision Board be cut with a laser?

Yes. With the advent of the newest lasers and their ability to be finely controlled, Precision Board can be very effectively engraved and cut. In some cases charring on the edges may occur.

Can Precision Board be cut with a water jet?

Yes. Water jets cut by focusing a very high pressure, small diameter, stream of water. The cut is very smooth and thicknesses up to 6” thick have been accurately cut using this method. Water jet cutting is normally used to cut very large letters that won’t fit on a router table.

Does cutting or sanding Precision Board produce harmful gases, dust or toxic vapors?

No. PB is totally reacted and inert. There is nothing inside PB that is released during cutting, etc. Standard particulate dust masks and eye goggles are recommended however to keep the dust from entering the eyes, nose, or mouth. These protective devices should also be used, for the same reasons, when cutting or sanding wood, plastic, steel, or any other product. See MSDS for more information.

What about sandblasting Precision Board, any special considerations?

Sandblasting Precision Board is just like sandblasting a lightweight wood. Blasting pressure needs to be about 60 psi max. at the pot. You can get much closer to the work surface because of the low blasting pressure and the detail and shapes can be much more subtle. Very interesting textures can be realized by using heavy grit blasting material and standing at different distances from the work piece. Since the blasting pressure is low, the grit moves slower and instead of pulverizing the surface it takes out small pieces of the background. Less pressure means a smaller, less expensive compressor can be used. Using Precision Board allows almost anyone to become their own blaster if they so desire.

What can I do to improve the adhesion of my sandblast resist mask to Precision Board?

Verify your blasting pressure has been reduced to 50-60 psi. Consider one coat of primer or even complete priming and painting prior to mask application. See question 23. Also consider using a high tack sandblast resist directly to raw Precision Board.

Is Precision Board more expensive than wood?

Precision Board may be more expensive initially on a square foot basis depending on the type of wood. However, since it comes in standard sizes of 4’x 8’, 4′ x 10′, 5’x 8′ and 5’x 10′ in thicknesses up to 24” thick, there is usually no laminating or surfacing required. The savings in laminating labor, equipment usage, and shop flow time will usually more than make up the initial cost difference.

For butt bonding pieces together to make them longer/wider or for laminating sheets to make them thicker what kind of adhesive is recommended?

Coastal Enterprises makes, and recommends PB Bond-240 and PB Fast Set, one part urethane adhesives, that are specifically designed for these purposes. PB Bond and PB Fast Set are waterproof, solvent proof, plus they carve and sandblast similar to the basic substrate. PB Bond cures in six hours. PB Fast Set cures in thirty minutes. Check out the data and application sheets. Call us for free samples.

What is the best way to attach eye bolts and other hardware to Precision Board?

Since PB is a cellular material it is not recommended to screw hardware directly into it. The hardware, being metal, will expand and contract with temperature causing it to work its way back out. If excessive tension or pressure is applied to the fastener the threads will pull out of the cellular material. The most secure way to install a fastener or hardware is to drill a hole into the PB that is twice the diameter of the fastener and about 1/4” deeper than its screw length. Fill this hole with a structural epoxy, insert the fastener and let it cure. This way the threads are pulling against the hard epoxy and the epoxy is totally bonded to the inside of the hole. Check out the PB Mounting and Strengthening Data Sheet.

Is it necessary to prime the surface prior to painting and what should be used?

We feel it is necessary to prime Precision Board prior to painting because not all paints adhere to HDU for the long term. Coastal Enterprises makes the FSC-88 WB – a one component water-based primer/filler. It is applied directly to Precision Board, dries quickly, sands easily, and accepts all types of paints. Also acceptable is any other type of primer that has been developed specifically for use on HDU. When in doubt always ask the primer manufacturer before proceeding. Check out the priming video on our website at or call us for a free cd.

Should I prime and paint all sides of my sign since Precision Board does not absorb moisture?

Yes, Precision Board does not have grain and therefore does not have the beam strength that comes with grain. This means Precision Board can be pulled in the direction of the drying paint. All paints shrink as they dry which causes tension across the surface of the sign. The higher quality of paint the more strength this shrinkage has. Painting both sides of the sign with equal thickness of paint provides equal tension and will keep one side from drawing the other. This is especially true of dark colored, heat absorbing paints. See our Paint Tension Data Sheet.

How can I speed up the drying of my primer/filler?

The quickest and safest way is to position a large shop fan to blow air across the primed piece. The air rolling over the surface creates a slight frictional heating which pulls out the solvent or water carrier that is in the primer. Turn the fan off during actual primer application so the primer can flow out before it starts to dry. Don’t place in direct sunlight as drying might occur too fast which can result in blisters.

Is there a product performance warranty on Precision Board?

Yes. Precision Board is warranted, in writing, against warping or cracking for the life of the sign. Obviously, installation must be adequately designed for HDU and sign properly maintained during warranty period. Contact us for your copy of warranty.

How long does it normally take for FSC-88 to dry before I can sand and paint it?

Remember that Precision Board does not absorb anything. This means that all drying takes place from the outside in, which takes much longer than on wood, or other absorbing materials. Typically, after drying over night it is ready for finish sanding. However, the primer/filler is totally dry only when it can be sanded without any balling up on the sandpaper. If balling occurs, stop and let it dry longer. This method of testing is true for water or solvent based primers. Painting over primer that is not completely dry will result in later blistering when the sign is installed. Even after complete primer drying, we recommend placing a large shop fan to blow across item for 2 hours minimum prior to painting. See our FSC-88 WB training video at or call us for a free cd.

Can I prime and paint my Precision Board sign panel prior to sandblasting?

Yes. Priming makes it easier for a medium tack sandblast resist to adhere to the surface of Precision Board. Leaving the mask in place after blasting and using it as a paint mask during priming and painting of the blasted area also saves time. Important: Always roll out primer and paint evenly as overlapped areas will result in uneven blasting. Be sure to use the proper sandblast stencil for primed HDU.

What is the best way to add the wood grain look to Precision Board?

Since Precision Board HDU does not have a grain structure naturally, it must be simulated into the surface. The grain effect can be accomplished by coating the routed background surface with TSF-45 texture material or PB Hard Coat (both products made by Coastal Enterprises) and combing the grain in with a hair comb, etc. If carving, a wire brush can be used directly on the Precision Board. When sandblasting, a frame with wires stretched over it can be easily made and placed over the sign and blasted through. The wires redirect the sand which creates a very realistic grain effect. Call us for specific details.

Does Ultraviolet from the sun affect Precision Board?

Yes. Left in the sun unpainted, Precision Board will start to discolor and turn brown in about 48 hours. Left totally unprotected Precision Board will continue to turn brown and breakdown from UV at about 1/32″ per year. This means about 1″ of deterioration every 32 years. Obviously deterioration is not a problem but the brown color is not pleasing. However, just under the brown surface the cell structure is unaffected. When this surface is removed it is ready for primer and paint. Keeping the painted surface looking good will assure a very long service life.

How do I make sure I purchase a high quality HDU product and get the best technical support available?

The very best way to assure you receive top quality high density urethane is to always remember to ask for Precision Board by name. Accept no substitutes. Technical support is readily available. Call us toll-free at (800) 845-0745 for samples and check us out at We are here to help.

What is the difference between PBLT & PBHT?

The only difference between the two products is PBLT has been designed to withstand composite oven/autoclave curing temperatures of 200°F, 94°C, and PBHT is designed to withstand composite curing temperatures of 300°F, 149°C. Neither PBLT nor PBHT outgas at these temperatures.

Are there specific oven/autoclave ramping procedures necessary for Precision Board during the heat up and cool down cycle of curing?

Yes. Precision Board, being an organic material is not a heat conducting substrate like aluminum or steel,and therefore must be heat cycled differently. Precision Board takes longer than metal to completely absorb heat into it during the heating cycle. It also releases heat slower than metal during the cool down cycle.

What is the typical oven/autoclave ramp up and ramp down procedures?

Temperature ramp up should not exceed 1°F per minute. This allows the temperature to be evenly absorbed during heat expansion, which will reduce possibility of internal stress and warping. Temperature ramp down should not exceed 2°F per minute. This allows the temperature of the tool to come down slowly so contraction does not cause internal stress and cracking in the thin sections of the tool. In thick tools with thin webs or sections, the cool down should be even lower. Prior testing is always recommended before heat cycling on actual tool.

Are the ramping temperatures different for LT or HT?

No. When in doubt with either material, extend ramping times.

What is the primary use of Precision Board Urethane Tooling Board?

Precision Board has been formulated for composite laminate layup tools, check fixtures, prototype models, thermoforming tools, foundry patterns, trim fixtures, CNC program proofing substrates, theme park characters, concept cars, and many other applications. Precision Board is very versatile. Both PBLT & PBHT have been developed for these applications. Both products are now formulated with “Green” Eco-Friendly components.

What does “Green,” eco-friendly components mean?

Precision Board now has Eco Friendly, environmental safeguarding, Green components. This State-of-the-art formula is not only easier on the planet, but has also created a much tighter, finer cell structure, making it much cleaner to machine with more chips, less dust. Carbon footprint = 3:1. Rapidly Renewable Materials = 23.9%. No Voc’s, Non –Toxic, Totally Inert, and No Carcinogens. Made in the USA.

What is outgassing and what causes it?

Outgassing occurs when a urethane tooling board, other than Precision Board, is used to make a composite layup tool, which is then heated during curing of the composite laminate. When a typical urethane tooling board is heated, it outgases, which releases byproducts that keep the composite laminate adhesive from curing. This obviously ruins the composite laminate and can damage the urethane tool. Precision Board does not outgas.

Are there any machining differences between LT and HT?

No. Both products machine very well and at high feed rates.

Is either PBLT or PBHT abrasive?

No. Precision Board, both PBLT and PBHT contain no abrasive components or fillers. This means standard high-speed steel (HSS) cutting tools may be used.

What size sheets are available?

Standard sheet sizes are 20”x60”, 24”x60”, 30”x80”, 45”x60”, 4’x8′, 4’x10′, 5’x8′, 5’x10′. Thickness to 24″, depending on density. Custom sheet sizes and thicknesses are available.

Are custom bonded blocks and sheets of Precision Board readily available?

Yes – Coastal Enterprises will fabricate any size and shape, small to extra large, sheet or block tool to meet your specifications. This allows you to immediately start the machining process on arrival with no bonding delay. Custom bonding not only reduces machine time but saves on material costs as well. Fast turn around times are our specialty.

What standard densities are available?

Standard densities are: 4pcf, 6pcf, 8pcf, 10pcf, 12pcf, 15pcf, 18pcf, 20pcf, 30pcf, 34pcf, 40pcf, 48pcf , 60pcf, 70pcf and 75pcf. Custom densities available on request. Call for minimum quantities.

Is Precision Board a polyurethane based material?

Yes. Precision Board is a specially formulated urethane that is designed for higher curing temperatures than standard urethane tooling boards. Both PBLT & PBHT are uniquely formulated with “Green” Eco-Friendly components. Coastal is proud to be part of the USA Greening Team.

How much vacuum pressure will PB withstand?

Since all organic materials tend to soften when heated, the maximum pressure allowed is much less on Precision Board than on aluminum or steel. Both PBLT and PBHT, at maximum service temperatures, should not be subjected to pressures over 30psi. The lower the maximum curing temperature, the higher the pressure both materials can tolerate. It is always best to test for deformation pressure in the actual oven/autoclave and at curing temperature being used to determine specific maximum pressure.

What is the CTE of PBLT and PBHT?

Both materials have a CTE of 26 x 10-6. Call us if you have any questions.

Is it necessary to hold down or “dog” Precision Board to the vacuum table or oven support fixture during heating & cooling?

Yes. Due to the internal stresses that are occurring in the tool during the heating and cooling part of the cure cycle it is important to hold the Precision Board tool flat. However, due to the differential of expansion and contraction between the Precision Board lay up tool and the support structure it is crucial that they be allowed to move independent of each other. It is always a good idea to securely, not excessively, hold PBLT and PBHT tooling to the machining table to support the piece during ramp up and ramp down. Dogs, or equivalent, every 2′ +/- is adequate. Remember not to over tighten which will restrict horizontal expansion and contraction and possibly damage tool and composite laminate.

How many parts should I expect to be able to run on a Precision Board tool?

Typically Precision Board “soft tooling” is used for 1 to 5 prototypes or production parts depending on complexity of configuration. The more familiar tooling personnel are with soft tooling, the longer the tool life. In some cases 10 to 12 production parts have been made. Configuration of the finished part and personnel product awareness has a major affect on tool life.

What about using a Precision Board composite layup tool for production runs?

For production runs it is better to use the Precision Board tool as a “master tool” to reproduce “production” tooling. This method allows for multiple production tools to be made from one Precision Board master. This is a very effective way to make lower cost, faster completion, production tooling.

What can I use to bond Precision Board to make larger sections?

Precision Board can be easily bonded with high quality epoxy adhesives. Coastal Enterprises makes a very easy to use, machinable grade, high-strength epoxy called EP-76. It machines, sands and carves very smoothly. Contact Coastal Enterprises for more information and helpful bonding tips.

What are typical Shore D hardness ratings of Precision Board?

Call us for specific hardness information or check our on-line Data Sheets at

Does Coastal Enterprises fabricate custom support fixtures for machining and layup tools?

Yes. Coastal Enterprises will fabricate a support fixture for any Precision Board 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 attachment that can be tightened during machining, etc. and loosened during oven/autoclave cycling. The custom hold down attachment has independent movement from the table.

Do I need a mold release on either PBLT or PBHT if laying up directly against it?

Yes. Mold releases are designed to be used against all tooling surfaces so that after cure cycle, the composite part can be released and removed from the layup tool without damaging the tool or the part. Care must be taken when choosing a release agent to be sure it will not outgas during the composite heat curing cycle and affect resin cure. Always test a sample part to verify mold release compatibility with your chosen prepreg or composite laminate.

Where can I receive more information about Precision Board products?

For information, technical assistance, free Precision Board samples, and the closest location for purchasing our products please call us at (800) 845-0745 or email at We are always glad to hear from you.

Why is Precision Board So Well Suited to the harsh marine environment?

Precision Board, being a closed cell product, absorbs no moisture. It is a fairly good insulator so temperature does not migrate into it. It has been tested from -425°F to +300°F with no degradation or breakdown. It doesn’t absorb water from humidity, rain, or ice so it does not expand or contract because of water intrusion. This means it doesn’t warp or crack, so resins and gel coats last longer and stay brighter than on wood.

Can I fiberglass over Precision Board?

Yes. Precision Board is compatible with virtually any resin system, whether polyester, vinylester or epoxy-based.

Is Precision Board more expensive than Marine Plywood?

Precision Board may be more expensive initially on a square foot basis depending on the type of wood. However, since it comes in a standard sizes of 4′ x 8′ and 4′ x 10′ and in thicknesses up to 20″ thick, there is usually no laminating or surfacing required. The savings in laminating labor, equipment usage, and shop flow time will usually more than make up the initial cost difference.

For butt bonding pieces together to make them longer/wider or for laminating sheets to make them thicker what kind or adhesive is recommended?

Coastal Enterprises makes, and therefore recommends, a one part urethane adhesive, PB Bond-240, that is specifically designed for these purposes. PB Bond makes it very easy to perform both types of bonds. PB Bond is waterproof and solvent proof. Check out the data sheet and also the application sheet.

Where can I receive more information about Precision Board products?

For information, technical assistance, or help with a quote, call us at (800) 845-0745 or. We are here to help. Click here for a free sample of Precision Board

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