Table of Contents

An Introduction To Sign Block

2D Vs. 3D Print

The amount of signage we are exposed to is constantly growing - but does that mean we take more or less notice of signs? Most likely the latter, which is why it’s so crucial to ensure your signage stands out from the crowd. To do that, would 2D or 3D be best?

Let’s take a look at a head-to-head comparison:


  • A much more traditional option, 2D signs allow you to keep the message simple- ideal for directional or instructional signage like road signs.
  • 2D signs can be slightly easier to read and lend themselves better to signs with larger volumes of text.
  • 2D is often cheaper and much quicker to turnaround if you are working on a project with a tight budget or short time frame.
  • A wider range of materials can be used due to the usually simple design of 2D signs.


  • If you are looking to achieve high impact signs, 3D will provide you with much more to work with. 3D signs are ideal for reception areas, exhibition stands or featured POS.
  • Greater value for money with 3D signage. Depending on the materials used, 3D signs can last longer, and also become more of a feature meaning people are more likely to take notice of them.
  • You have more flexibility with design and can achieve much more with 3D signs - mainly because you have more material to work with.

If you would like to see more on the comparison between 2D and 3D signage, take a look here.

The Benefits of 3D Signage


As mentioned above, 3D signs or even 3D displays are much more likely to have an impact, mainly because you have more to work with and greater flexibility with design and what you can include. However, there are other benefits to choosing a 3D option for your signage or displays.

3D enables you to communicate your message without using text, making them easier to ‘read’ at a glance.

So, if you’re looking to create more impact and want to know more about the benefits of using 3D signage, take a look at this blog post.


Bring Your Signs To Life

As touched upon in the previous section, signs and displays can truly be brought to life using 3D design. However, alongside this you can also use things including 3D lettering, functional elements like clocks and information boards, or situational things surrounding your sign, like street lights or trees.

Functional elements like clocks make your sign useful and can draw people into viewing it more. Other examples of this might include using signs people typically look for to leverage your own advertising, like directional signs.

Otherwise, taking the opportunity to utilise things that surround your sign will draw people in further, prompting them to think about the composition of the sign meaning it will stay in their mind for longer. It may even become a feature that they point out to friends and family.

If you want to read more about this and how to get inspiration for bringing your sign to life, take a look here.

What Is Sign Block?

Sign block is a material made from polyurethane which possesses particularly desirable characteristics for 3D signage and bespoke displays. Also known as HDU Foam or Tooling Board, Sign Block is light-weight yet durable making it ideal for POS displays and exhibition graphics, as it can be put up and packed away multiple times without being damaged - or causing heavy-lifting or safety issues.

The material is relatively flexible when it comes to design and can be machined to create 3D designs or profiled down for more 2-dimensional signage. Typically, standard Sign Block comes in 2 shades: mint green and a peach colour which are used to communicate the density of the material. However, any number of finishes can be applied to the material meaning it can be made to look like almost anything!

Sign block is best known for being a sturdier replacement for Polystyrene, however it can be made to look like wood, metal or even brick work so provides great flexibility!

Take a look here for more information on Sign Block!

What Are The Benefits of Using Sign Block?

Sign Block is an ideal signage material for many things. However, as it is relatively new to the market with many print suppliers are not yet working with the material, and may be unaware of the vast number of benefits there are to working with the material.

So, why should you work with sign block? Let us tell you:

  • Durability – Sign block, or HDU foam is very durable and as a result, is perfect for use indoors or outside. Providing it has been properly prepared and primed, sign block is suitable for humid environments, is completely waterproof and doesn’t rot like wood. In fact, it is proven to last up to 10 times as long as wood.
  • Light Weight – Sign block is incredibly light weight, similarly to polystyrene, but with much greater durability - meaning graphics made from sign block can be packed up and reused again and again. Compared to other sign materials including plastic, wood and metal, sign block is conveniently light weight and easy to handle.
  • Flexibility – When it comes to creating a design sign block provides great flexibility. The material can be used from as thin as 5mm right up to 1000mm in a single sheet, and it can be shaped and carved into any shape! Options vary from 3D lettering, film sets, POS material and even shop front signs. Sign block is also easily bonded meaning any number of 3D scenes or models can be created by bonding pieces together. The opportunities really are endless!
  • Finish - Flexibility doesn’t stop with the shape. Due to Sign block’s adaptability, it can be made to look like just about anything! Wood, metal, stone, brick or a mixture of the former effects can be applied to the material, meaning you have even greater flexibility over how the finished product looks.

Take a look here for more information on the benefits of using Sign block!

Sign Block Vs. Polystyrene

Sign Block is a relatively new material to the signage market and has a number of benefits suitable for indoor, outdoor, 3D and 2D signs, and not to be overlooked. Many compare the material qualities of Sign Block to that of polystyrene due to it’s foam like consistency and its suitability to both 2D and 3D design.

So, why would you choose to use Sign Block over Polystyrene? This blog directly compares the two materials, but take a look below for a brief overview.


  • Weight: Polystyrene is well known for being light-weight and ideal for temporary POS or signage.
  • Durability: Polystyrene isn’t particularly durable, so isn’t great for longer term signage or for props that will be picked up and moved a lot.
  • Appearance: Everyone knows Polystyrene doesn’t look great on its own. However, it can be finished in a number of ways with coloured coatings or patterned finishes. Unfortunately, it is usually fairly obvious from first sigh that a sign or prop is made from polystyrene no matter what the finish.

Sign Block

  • Weight: Sign block is also light weight, reducing the need for heavy duty fixings, also making it ideal for signage that needs to be moved a lot.
  • Durability: As mentioned previously, sign block is also very durable and can even be used outside. It’s weather proof and doesn’t rot.
  • Appearance: Sign Block comes in 2 different shades, depending on how dense it is. The density allows it be machined to precise shapes and designs. It can also be finished to look like almost anything including wood, metal, bricks or even plastic. This makes it ideal for those looking for flexibility when designing.

Sign Block + The Future Of Film

Sign Block is also particularly useful when it comes to making film or theatre sets. Quite often. Props and sets are moved, man-handled and need to be able to last for long runs meaning polystyrene isn’t always suitable. Sign block however, is much better suited as it can sustain the knocks, bumps and scrapes that polystyrene simply can’t. Not only this, but its ability to be made to look like just about anything means it is even more ideal for film and theatre sets. Whether you need to simulate brick, metal or wooden props and surfaces, sign block is ideal.

For more details on the future of film sets and sign block, take a look here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sign Block?

Sign block is a plastic derivative made from polyurethane and commonly used for 3D signage and bespoke displays.

Lightweight yet durable, it lends itself to POS displays and exhibition graphics in particular.

Sign block is also known as HDU Foam or Tooling Board.

What is Sign Block made of?

Sign Block is made from polyurethane and is an example of a form of Heavy Duty Urethane Foam (HDU).

Unlike alternate foams it contains a consistent structure at its core, allowing for greater durability.

What are the benefits of Sign Block?

There are many benefits to using sign block.

The material is incredibly versatile and can be customised to produce a variety of looks and finishes.

The substance is light weight and can be used without heavy duty fittings. Sign block is also extremely durable and can withstand the harshest conditions.

What size can I print Sign Block?

You can print onto sign block as thin as 5mm and as thick to 1000mm in a single sheet. The substrate can also be easily shaped and carved.

How do you print Sign Block?

Evans Graphics digitally print onto sign block using large format flatbed printers.

This machinery boasts large format cutting, routing and finishing capabilities for those looking to create display boards or props on a movie set… for which sign block has also become synonymous.

How much does it cost to print onto Sign Block?

Printing onto sign block can cost anywhere between £900 and £3,000 depending on your exact requirements.

To request a quote, simply upload your artwork, along with a brief description on what you’re looking to create.

Should I use a 2D or 3D Sign Block?

Simple signage is best realised using 2D Sign Block. Examples include directional or instructional signs which are easier to read and cheaper to produce.

3D Sign Block lends itself to high impact signage such as those used for exhibition stands or reception areas.

3D signs provide greater value for money and can last longer than traditional signs.

For an in-depth comparison of 2D and 3D signage, read our blog.

Why should I choose Sign Block over Polystyrene?

Much like Polystyrene, Sign Block is lightweight which makes it ideal for temporary POS and signage. Sign Block is far more durable given it’s a weatherproof material that can be used outside without fear of rotting.

While both Sign Block and Polystyrene can be coloured or patterned in different ways, Sign Block has a much cleaner finish and can be made to look like almost any other material.

Related Content

Register For Your Free Signage & Display Advice Pack

If you have been tasked with creating a sign, be it for yourself, a client or the business you work for, our free signage advice pack will help you consider:

  • Whether 2D or 3D signage is best for your design.
  • How to make your sign stand out from the rest.
  • Which materials you should consider, dependant on which environment your sign will be in.
  • Why sign block should be considered for your next project.

At Evans Graphics, we pride ourselves on giving advice where we can and taking your idea, no matter how obscure it might be, and making it a reality!