PatternPly® Guide

We offer PatternPly® in several different substrate types to ensure we have the perfect option for your project! Options:

MDF (the original PatternPly®!)

  • Offered in 1/4" and 1/8" thicknesses, one sided and two sided (one sided will look like plain brown MDF on the back); engraves a dull brownish color like regular MDF
  • Great for earrings, signs, ornaments, purses, etc. 
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Not made for soaking in water but will hold up just fine if water accidentally splashes on the surface. Not recommended for outdoor use in the elements but will hold up fine for things like wreath accents or door signage if on a covered porch. 


  • Offered in 1/8" thickness. Nearly all PatternPly® Acrylic is two sided only. The only exceptions are our transparent options on clear. For a more detailed explanation of the transparent options and how they differ from two sided, watch here: PatternPly® Acrylic Two Sided vs. Transparent - YouTube
  • Great for earrings, ornaments, trophies/awards, signs, coasters, etc.
  • Waterproof
  • Not recommended for outdoor products exposed to full sunlight, as this can weaken the acrylic to the point of breakage
  • One fun aspect of PatternPly® Acrylic is that it is offered in many different core colors. The material will engrave in the color of the core. For example, PatternPly® Acrylic cement on black will look like gray cement on the surface but will engrave in a black color. This enables you to get contrast for engraved words or art without having to spend time painting the engrave. We offer many different solid colors in PatternPly® Acrylic that engrave with a different core color as well: core color - Smokey Hill Designs


  • Roughly 1/32" thick and flexible. Offered in two sided or 3M backed. The 3M backing is a peel and stick.
  • The two sided is great for business cards or layered projects. The 3M backed option is very popular for stickers and layered projects. We have many customers who use them for tumbler stickers and they hold up to washing. 
  • While the material is too thin to be the main component of earrings or ornaments, it works great for layering with plywood or thicker PatternPly® without adding a lot of weight. 


  • 1/75" thick, flexible, waterproof, and tear/rip proof
  • Great for layering
  • Engraves white

Clear Flex

  • 1/75" thick, flexible, waterproof, and tear/rip proof
  • Great for layering; transparent options great for suncatchers and backlit projects

Peel and Stick

  • < 1/75" thick, flexible, waterproof
  • Functions like a laser-safe vinyl --use anywhere you would normally use vinyl


General info:

1/4" vs. 1/8"

  • 1/4" is twice as thick as the 1/8" and is the most popular choice for signs
  • 1/8" is the most popular choice for earrings
  • Both 1/8" and 1/4" are used for ornaments

One sided vs. Two sided

  • One sided is popular for projects where the back will not be seen (e.g., signs, layered projects)
  • Two sided is the most popular choice for earrings and ornaments, or other projects where both sides will be seen


Not sure whether to choose MDF or acrylic for your earrings? Watch this video: PatternPly® Acrylic or MDF? - YouTube


You may also like

View all
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post