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3D Number Plates Guide

What are 3D Plates?

Most vehicles have number plates to indicate that a particular motor is legally registered. Following the Motor Car Act of 1903, motor vehicle registrations were introduced. However, compared to today’s long alphanumeric combinations, those early plates bore just one or two-letter combinations followed by a number between 1 and 9999. Over time, the DVLA changed the template to three letters followed by three numbers. All combinations were exhausted in 1963 which saw new templates introduced once again.

120 years later and we have come a long way. Those early plates are unrecognizable compared to today’s area code that is followed by an age identifier, and three random numbers. However, this has seen many changes throughout the years and will no doubt change again at some point in the future.

The introduction of a new form of number plate became highly popular over the years. You can now choose your own unique number plates in the form of personalized plate numbers. Not only can you pick your own unique plate, but you can also own 3D gel resin plates too. These are a modern and attractive way of displaying your plate on your vehicle.

3D plates are produced with premium acrylic backing plates and feature 3D gel resin letters and numbers. Therefore, these plates stand out in all situations. However, they are most effective when light hits them from another vehicle. The light on the 3D letters makes for an impressive sight, especially when you’re used to the more regular printed number plates.

These unique plates are made from acrylic and sport individual-raised letters. These letters are engineered from polyurethane and must be stuck to the number plate by hand. The plate usually comes with an aligner to guarantee correct spacing between the letters. Rounded and raised, these letters have a wet, gel-like look that is perfect if you’re looking to add understated personalization to your vehicle.

What makes 3D plates “3D?”

It’s all in the design of these number plates. To understand how these 3D plates achieve their effect, we need to discuss what 3D actually is.

3D means three-dimensional. In other words, it is something that has width, height, and depth (length). Everything we see is three-dimensional and we even move around in a 3D way every day.

Humans can perceive the space between objects just by observing them. This is because we have a 3D perception, otherwise known as depth perception. As we look around at our surroundings, the retina in each of our eyes forms a two-dimensional image. Our brain then processes these two images into our 3D visual experience.

So, how do 3D plates actually work? Well, they are made by covering sheet cut characters with a polyurethane gel resin. Therefore, they have a raised profile from the plate itself. This raised profile helps the letters appear 3D as they stand out from the rest of the smooth, flat plate. These raised characters add clarity to the plate resulting in better visibility.

 Benefits of 3D number plates

Many cars, trucks, motorbikes, and other vehicles have 3D plates today. You have probably seen them without even noticing as they have become commonplace on our roads. However, most people see them as personalized plates with no real benefits behind their design. But this isn’t strictly true.

While many drivers may choose 3D plates for their aesthetically pleasing nature, many vehicle manufacturers include these plates due to their many benefits. Some of the positives of using 3D plates are:

  • The letters are crystal clear making them highly visible for other road users (i.e motorists and pedestrians). Compared to a standard plate, 3D plates stand out more, especially when they are met with light
  • They can increase the overall aesthetic appeal of a vehicle along with the price if you’re looking to sell
  • 3D number plates are completely legal
  • It’s a unique way to personalize your vehicle without needing to change any characters
  • Vehicles look more appealing in showroom settings
  • Not as expensive as personalized plates which have the letters rearranged
  • They are associated with top vehicle brands

Whether you want something a little more unique or want to ensure your plate is easily visible at all times, a 3D plate is a useful way of achieving such results.

3D plate variations

3D plates can be added to a range of number plates and vehicles. Then can be added to motorbikes, small city cars, 4x4s, and even larger vehicles such as trucks. As long as the characters are of the legal size, they can be displayed on any vehicle.

The law surrounding 3D plates

Although 3D number plates are currently legal, the law is changing from September 2021. While they will still be legal, the law will be a little more complicated.

Current plates run on the BSAU 145d codes but from September 2021, they will be running on BSAU 145e codes. What does this mean? Well, all plates made prior to September 2021 will have the BSAU 145d codes and will therefore adhere to the “old” laws. In other words, if your plates were road legal when you purchased the vehicle, then they will still be legal after September 2021 but they must still display the BSAU 145d code on the physical plate.

Plates made from September 2021 onwards will have to follow new DVLA rules. New plates can only be one shade of black while most other requirements remain the same.

Contrary to popular belief, 3D plates do show up on ANPR cameras so don’t think they are a way of getting out of a fine or parking ticket. What is illegal is 2D printed font that has been coloured to look like a 3D font.

In Summary

The world of number plates is ever-changing. Laws seem to change every few years but this latest change in September 2021 regarding 3D plates shouldn’t affect too many people. As long as the fonts are the correct size and only one shade of black is used, 3D plates will continue to stand out on our roads.