What are Dimensional Sign Letters?
Dimensional sign letters are 3D letters made from Acrylic, or Metal that are mounted individually to the wall. They can either be raised on clear spacers or mounted flush with the wall. Options for depth include 1/16" to 1" for flat cut materials and 1" - 5" and up for layered Foam, Layered MDF or Channel letters.
We have years of experience designing signs. Thanks to our experience, after seeing your logo, we can always suggest the best way to bring it to life using different materials, depths and finishes.
However, here is everything about what goes into making dimensional signs, letters and logos. These options will give you a better sense of our recommendations.
If you are a designer or looking to take part in the sign design process, feel free to draw upon this information when discussing your sign idea with us.
Types of Dimensional Letters
Dimensional letters are made using two different methods of production.
1. Flat Cutting (CNC)
2. Channel Letter Forming
1. Flat Cut Letters
Flat cut letters are CNC (Computer Numerical Control) cut using a computer controlled machine with a laser, water jet or router bit attachment.
2. Fabricated Channel Letters
Channel letters are metal or plastic signs made of bent channels that are glued or welded into custom shaped letters or symbols.
3D Letters 101
How do 3D letters work? What type of material do you use, what color should the letters be, what are my options?
3 Main options when making dimensional signs:
1. Depth / Thickness
Flat cut materials normally range in depth between 1/8” to 1”. It’s best to choose your lettering depth based on the size of the lettering and how they’re going to be used.
For example, thinner letters mounted flush with the wall work better for high traffic areas like desks and hallways. Thinner letters have a lower profile and don’t get in the way.
On the other hand, less frequented areas like walls behind reception desks are more protected and can allow for individually cut lettering raised off the wall on pegs for an additional floating effect.
Most common flat cut material depths along with their best use case:
- 1/8” (One Eighth Inch) — Good for very small letters (under 1” high) mounted flat on the wall. We usually cut this depth with an adhesive backing to simplify installation. This thickness can also be used to bring out fine details on symbols.
- 1/4” (Quarter Inch) — Ideal for subheadings and secondary information. Also a great option if you are on a budget. We usually cut this depth with an adhesive sticky back.
- 1/2” (Half Inch) — Our most popular depth for 3D raised letters. This Depth can be raised on spacers (small peg mounts) for an additional floating effect or directly to the wall on double sided tape. Provides a substantial look and feel.
- 3/4” (Three Quarter Inch) — Excellent for when you need a beefier, bolder look.
- 1” (One Inch) — Perfect for a very bold look. Usually the max depth for flat cut materials.
How far are they raised off the wall?
Another question related to material depth is how far the letters stick off the wall. Meaning how far are the dimensional letters spaced off the wall on mounts, pegs, rods, or spacers.
In most cases, we raise our signs off the wall on 1/2” spacers. This gives the individually cut letters an added floating effect that makes them appear more 3 dimensional.
Depending on your lighting, raising your sign on 1/2” mounts will also cast a shadow. The shadow effect can be increased or decreased by adjusting your lighting.
Although the average spacer depth is 1/2”, we can also accommodate requests for custom spacer depths such as 1/4”, 3/4”, 2”, 5” or any other depth.
Certain wall types, such as ledge stone or irregular patterned walls may require the dimensional letters to be raised at various depths. In this case we usually include threaded rods with no set spacer depth and the height of the letters off the wall can be adjusted manually, ensuring the letters are level.
When dimensional letters are flush mounted with sticky back or double sided tape, then they will only raise off the wall by the depth of the letters themselves because the tape itself does not have much thickness to it.
Our most commonly used material for making individually cut 3D letters and symbols is acrylic which we cut using an industrial CNC laser cutter.
Acrylic is a type of high grade plastic. It’s a material that can be clear, frosted, pigmented, or used with films and laminates to produce endless finish options.
We use acrylic because it is versatile, high quality, and very durable. Most importantly, acrylic can be laser cut.
Because acrylic can be laser cut, it allows us to get very creative when making 3D letters and logos. Laser cutting allows us to make very complicated logos in a number of impressive looking colors and finishes.
Acrylic can be laminated with complex prints, custom films, brushed metal and mirrored or chrome finishes to make very high end and highly customizable 3D logos.
We often combine acrylic with brushed silver or chrome mirror finishes and paint the precise, laser cut edges to match the surface of the material. This allows us to achieve the look of high end metal finishes without using heavy and expensive real metal finishes. The majority of the metal looking signs in our example gallery are made using this finish.
We call brushed silver laminated acrylic finishes: brushed metal substitute.
We can use the following types of metal for dimensional signs:
- Stainless Steel
We have acrylic based, “brushed metal substitutes” for all metal options. These acrylic based metallic finishes are commonly preferred because they are more cost effective, involve more precise laser cut manufacturing techniques and often produce a cleaner, sharper logo.
Traditional flat cut metal is often used for dimensional letters and signs in cases where more cost effect acrylic based, brushed metal substitutes cannot be used such as outdoors or in specific environments requiring a certain metal finish.
We can use a number of wood finishes for dimensional letters and signs:
- Raw wood
- Stained wood
- Raw MDF
- Painted MDF
Wood is laser cut to make wooden dimensional letters and logos. Any part of the wood that is cut will have a dark burnt edge. This edge can either be left naturally dark or additionally it can be stained or painted a custom color.
Wood can also be laser engraved or etched. Details that are laser etched will naturally come out dark and burnt. We control the level of darkness based on how much power we use to laser etch the design. The etched design can either be light or very dark depending on the look you prefer. The darker the image, the deeper the engraving will be.
We also use laser cut wood for dimensional letters requiring custom certain finishes such as faux rust.
Wood is a very cost effective option for large orders of dimensional letters.
Commonly used dimensional sign letter finishes:
- Painted to match corporate colors (Custom pantone, PMS #’s)
- Brushed nickel
- Brushed gold
- Mirrored (Chrome)
- Frosted Acrylic (Pastel Ice Frost®)
- Glossy black (Pigmented acrylic)
We continue to innovate with a wide array of custom finishes.
We have the widest selection of acrylic based brushed metal substitute finishes that provide the look and feel of solid metal, with a crisper and more refined appearance at a fraction of the cost.
Complex gradients and graphics can be digitally printed onto the material and cut to shape. The edges of the material can then be painted to match the gradients on the faces of the letters.
How are dimensional letters made?
4 Few easy steps for making 3D sign letters:
- Artwork Preparation
- Laser Cutting
In order to ensure the highest quality final product for your sign, we require the original artwork files for your logo. This could be a file in either .EPS, .PDF or .AI format with vectors. You should be able to get this from the person who designed your logo. Although we cannot proceed without this file, if you do not have it, we will help you recreate it.
If you have specific colors to match such as Pantone colors or paint swatches, we need them at this point so that our team can mix our paints accordingly.
We use a high grade industrial CNC laser cutting machine that follows every point and curve of your logo to ensure your dimensional sign is cut precisely to specifications.
Once your dimensional letters have been cut, we paint them to match. Brushed finishes also have edges painted silver to match for a solid, seamless look.
We provide everything required to mount your sign in the box, including easy to use mounting pattern, installation instructions, hardware and adhesives. We also provide local installation professionals to help with dimensional sign letter installation.
Excited to start your Dimensional Sign Project?
We make custom dimensional signs quick and easy— from designing, and suggesting material options to determining wall mounting details for installation— We have you covered! Get in touch to quote and order your own dimensional sign.