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3D VS 4D
(What is the difference?)

3D and 4D number plates are both evolutions of the standard number plate which was introduced in 2001. Standard number plates are made from acrylic using flat letters that are printed onto the plate by a machine.

You will find standard number plates on all new cars sold in the UK. They are cheap and quick to manufacture, allowing dealerships and suppliers to roll out massive batches in one go with very little new investment.

However, while the standardised nature of these number plates is good from a manufacturing sense for suppliers, it does make the design boring. Flat letters don’t stand out and the plates can’t be ‘different’.

3D and 4D plates are a 100% legal alternative to standard number plates. They both have one big difference over standard plates – raised characters, which bring depth to the plates and provide a more premium or upmarket appearance.

So, the difference between standard number plates and 3D and 4D plates is that 3D and 4D plates have raised letters and numbers.

But what’s the difference between 3D and 4D plates?

3D vs 4D plates

3D and 4D plates are both popular options for vehicle personalisation. 3D plates are more common, but only because the manufacturing process has been more widely adopted. Most number plate suppliers only do 3D plates (we do both).

The key difference between them is how they are made and how they look. 3D plates are easier and faster to make than 4D plates, which also makes them cheaper. Both plates are made by hand using alignment bars.

You can tell the difference between 3D and 4D plates by how raised the letters are and how they look. 4D characters are more raised and more rectangular. 3D characters are less raised and more rounded for an understated look.

3D plates

  • Characters placed by hand

  • Acrylic plate – polyurethane letters

  • Rounded raised characters with a wet, gel-like look

3D plates are made from acrylic with individual raised letters. The raised letters are manufactured from polyurethane and get ‘stuck’ to the acrylic plate by hand. An aligner bar is used to guarantee perfect spacing.

The rounded and shiny gel-like appearance of 3D plates makes them a great choice if you want to add understated personalisation to your vehicle.

4D plates

  • Characters placed by hand

  • Acrylic plate – acrylic letters (laser cut)

  • Rectangular and deep raised characters

4D plates are also made from acrylic but instead of polyurethane characters, they use professionally laser cut characters made from acrylic sheet. This allows the characters to be thicker and more rectangular for a bolder look.

You can also get 4D gel characters which have a wet look. These are made in the same way as 3D letters but have a thicker profile.

The rectangular and more raised profile of 4D plates makes them a great choice for adding standout personalisation to your vehicle.

Cost differences

4D plates carry a premium over 3D plates up to 20%. The reason 4D plates cost more is because the individual characters are laser cut, or they are of the thicker gel variety. In the case of laser-cut, the characters are also made to order in-house.

Customizability and styles

3D and 4D plates are available in several styles:


  • 4D 3mm

  • 4D 5mm

  • 4D Gel

  • 4D Glitter Gel

  • Carbon 4D Gel

  • Krystal 4D

  • Krystal Gel


  • Black

  • Carbon Brickwork

  • Carbon Galaxy

  • Glitter Gel

It’s important to note that with all these different styles, the only thing that changes is the texture and appearance of the characters.

Which is best?

3D plates are more common than 4D number plates, so if you want to make your number plate truly individual, 4D plates have the advantage.

Both plates look better than standard number plates and are 100% legal so long as they meet BS AU 145d standards. The number plates we manufacture meet these standards and make a fantastic upgrade to any vehicle.

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