Dimensional Letters, 3D Letters

Dimensional letters and logos are both a sign type and an element in other signs. Dimensional lettering is commonly found in Lobby Signs, Wall Signs, Building Signs and on Monuments. These are also used with electrical signs such as Channel Letters for the Business Name and dimensional letters underneath for the tag line. Dimensional letters and signs are more affordable than LED signs and are used for businesses that operate during the day light or inside like business park buildings, industrial park buildings and lobby signs or other interior signs.

Materials for Dimensional Letters and Logos

There are really 2 types of materials, sheets of material or substrates, these are the raw material that can be cut into dimensional letters or 3D letters.  There are several ways to cut these, but CNC router is the most common. Then there are molded and poured dimensional letters, casting 3D letters out of Aluminum or bronze and injection molding a plastic (ABS) into a mold are common.  The most common – Acrylic is next, but there is a list of other materials at the end on this page 

3d lettering - dimensional letters being painted


Acrylic was first developed in the 1930s. During WW2 it was used in volume for aircraft canopies and submarine periscopes. In the 1970s it came in over 100 colors; it is good for outdoor signage. It is the “go to” material for most 3D letters. Today ¼” in 4 colors is normally available, red, clear, black, and white. Thicker sheets up to an inch are available.  Other colors are rarely seen over 1/8”. It is easy to cut and shape.  

Dimensional Letters & Logos as Signs for Buildings

Signs for San Diego make business signs, that is Dimensional Letters used in business parks. These a routed 3d letters mount as wall lettering. Business to Business (BtoB) firms know that an electrically Illuminated LED sign is not always the way to go. Industrial Parks are day light operations and dimensional lettering – non-electric custom sign is the best building sign.

Sign Examples

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ACM Aluminum Composite Material

Aluminum composite material (ACM) is a first surface of aluminum and a polyethylene (PE) core with another layer of aluminum. It can be brushed for a brushed Aluminum look or painted. It cuts like butter and is easy to use. It is commonly found in ¼” but comes a little thinner aluminum too. It is great for indoor and outdoor signage.

PVC (PolyVinylChloride)

PVC comes in sheets.  They are normally white but come in Black as well. The key advantage of PVC is it comes in different thicknesses. It is relatively in expensive, but the pricing has gone up a lot of post COVID. It also tends to warp in the sun and is not a good material for large forms outside. There is an outdoor version that avoids this but post COVID has been hard to get. It can be cut with a laser but isn’t because the outgassing is harmful. CNC rotary cutting is the way to go.

Cast Metal Letters

Normally in Bronze or Aluminum these are sand cast letters. The liquid metal is poured into sand molds and cooled. The molds are chipped away leaving a durable letter ready for polishing or texture left in place. These Dimensional letters can be installed with studs on any solid surface.

Formed Plastic Letters

These are molded in various fonts and sizes. If the font and size, you need is available they could be the best value.  They carry a lifetime guarantee and if broken, can be replaced.  They are paintable.

Routed Aluminum Letters

Aluminum letters were the most durable letters available. We would take a 1” thick sheet of Aluminum and route out each letter. This is largely gone now because the price of these thick Aluminum sheets has skyrocketed and is now not affordable

Foam Core Letters

Foam core – The least durable and cheapest material available. At Signs for San Diego, we rarely use this material because it just does not hold up.  Birds love to perch on foam and flex their claws in it, sunlight weakens it.

Wood Letters

Wood – Commonly seen in the past and inside military bases, it is a natural material and has variation. We have never been competitive with these because they are actually made with prison labor, by hand in the brig in Miramar.  That is right, you get it trouble, they throw you in the brig and you get to make letters for command boards