What is flex? How can I use it, and how do I order it?

What is flex?

Our flex substrates are thin, laser safe materials that can be ordered raw (plain) or with any of our PatternPly® patterns on the surface. We offer several types of flex: clear flex, white flex, and a few peel and stick options. Let's break each down to explain the differences:

  • Clear flex. Our clear flex is roughly 0.01" thick and flexible. The closest thing we can think to compare it to is those old overhead projector transparencies we had back in grade school. The clear flex is extremely popular for bookmarks, sun catchers*, and layering projects. If you want the look of PatternPly® but don't want the added weight of acrylic or MDF, the flex is a PERFECT solution. In terms of how it looks, think of the clear flex just like a really really thin clear acrylic. Patterns will look the same on the clear flex as they do the clear acrylic--transparent patterns will still be transparent; scattered patterns will still be scattered; most importantly, two sided images will still have a textured side and a side where you see the image through the clear. If this is confusing, click here for our video explaining this. If you've ordered our PatternPly clear acrylic before, you know what we're talking about! Note: The clear flex does NOT have an adhesive backing. For a clear, flexible substrate with a peel and stick side, see the peel and stick clear flex option below. 
  • White flex. The white flex is the same ~0.01" thickness as the clear flex. Like the clear flex, the PatternPly® white flex is popular for bookmarks and layering projects. Unlike clear flex, however, it will NOT work for sun catchers since it is completely opaque. Reasons to choose the white flex over the clear would be: 1. If you don't like the shininess of clear materials and prefer a matte image on one or both sides of the flex.  2. If you want to be able to engrave white. The white flex can be engraved to reveal the white color--no painting needed! Raw white flex (i.e., with no pattern on the surface) is a popular option for stencils. 
  • Peel and stick clear flex. The peel and stick clear flex is also roughly 0.01" thick. You would choose this option over the regular clear flex if you want to be able to mount the image or pattern to something else. For example, you could order the PatternPly® Scattered Chickens and Chicks on peel and stick clear flex and then stick it to a piece of yellow acrylic to provide a yellow background. The peel and stick clear flex is a very popular option with our international customers because it is lightweight and saves on shipping costs. The peel and stick can be stuck to acrylic, wood, tumblers, etc. Because the material is clear, the image will be visible from both sides. The peel and stick clear flex is not a good option for sun catchers* unless you are mounting it to a piece of clear acrylic. Otherwise, the peel and stick backing interferes with light penetration. 
  • Iridescent Peel and Stick Flex, Fire and Ice. These iridescent peel and stick sheets are the same 0.01" thickness as the other flex substrates. Unlike the other flex options above, however, these sheets are currently only offered raw (i.e., no PatternPly® options). There are two types of raw iridescent peel and stick flex: fire and ice. The fire option has primarily warm tones in the iridescence, and the ice option has primarily cool tones. These sheets can be cut as is to create iridescent stickers, or you may prefer to mount to acrylic before cutting/engraving. If you mount the iridescent peel and stick flex to clear acrylic, it makes beautiful sun catchers, jewelry, and decorations. You can also mount it to colored, opaque acrylics for jewelry, signage, and other decorations with an iridescent sheen. 
  • Peel and Stick Flex, Mirror. The peel and stick mirror is 0.01" thick with an adhesive backing. If you choose the raw option, you can stick it to acrylic to create your own mirrored acrylic in any thickness. We also offer peel and stick mirror for any pattern in the Scattered PatternPly® and Transparent, Frosted, and Metallic PatternPly® collections. The transparent patterns on the peel and stick mirror have a unique metallic sheen. They are completely opaque, so they will not work for a traditional sun catcher. The scattered patterns on the peel and stick mirror will have the pattern with mirror in between the pattern elements. In other words, wherever you would normally see clear acrylic, you will instead see mirror. All of the mirror options can be used as is for stickers/decals or mounted to wood or acrylic for jewelry, signage, etc.  
  • Peel and Stick Flex, Dry Erase. We have two options for the 0.01" thick peel and stick flex dry erase sheets: clear and white. The clear sheet enables you to turn anything into a dry erase board but still retain the colors of the original material. Dry erase walnut? Dry erase PatternPly®? Now it's possible! The white sheets will have the usual look of a dry erase board but are thin, flexible, and peel and stick. Both options can be used to make stickers or add a dry erase section to things like Baby or School Milestone signs. 
  • Other flexible substrates. We have a few other flexible substrates, including laser safe vinyl, PatternPly® veneers, and our wood veneers. They don't fall under the "flex" name, but they're just as flexible and useful!
    • Laser safe vinyl. Our laser safe vinyl is a car-wrap grade substrate that has the same flex and stretchability as traditional vinyl. It is roughly 0.01" thick and makes excellent stickers/decals. It is completely opaque and is sold both raw or with PatternPly® patterns on the surface. It can be ordered following the instructions below (just make sure the one sided option is selected). The back side of the laser safe vinyl is white, so it is not recommended for sticking to clear acrylic--instead, choose the peel and stick clear flex described above. 
    • PatternPly® 3M backed veneers. Unlike all the flex options, the PatternPly® veneers are a little thicker at roughly 0.03". They are also more paper like than the flex options, which are generally more plastic-like. They have a peel and stick backing and can be used for stickers/decals. The option can be found on PatternPly® product pages.
    • Wood veneers. These 100% natural 0.03" thick veneers are offered with a peel and stick 3M backing or with a non-sticky paper backing. They are real wood, so they can be engraved, stained or sealed just like the plywoods. They are very popular for stickers/decals and hat patches.


How to order flex

If you are looking for raw flex materials, each of the options above can be found in the "Raw Flexible Materials" collection found in the "Shop Wood/Acrylic" menu option at the top of the website. 

If you are looking for patterned flex, you will find those options on each of the PatternPly® product pages. They will appear grayed out, but they are available! To order flex:

1. Click the 0.01" (choose for flex and vinyl) option in the thickness section. You can click it even if it is grayed out.

2. Click the desired flex substrate in the material (core) section. You can click it even if it is grayed out.

3. The flex options should then show as in stock. If they do not, click the 2 sided option and that should fix it! 


*If you are making sun catchers, make sure you are using one of the patterns in the "Transparent, Frosted, and Metallic" collection on either clear flex or acrylic. Items in this collection will have the word "transparent" in the product name. Anything else will be too opaque to use.   


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