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Difference between 2D and 3D PVC Patches

When it comes to customizing PVC patches, our customers always ask us the difference between 2D (two dimensional) and 3D (three dimensional) PVC patches. They often need to know if their design will be suitable for 2D or 3D.

There is a general misconception that if you opt for a 2D design the patch will not have multiple levels and layers, which is not true. While PVC patches have many distinct features, the most unique selling point of these patches is the 2D and 3D effect.

First, you need to know that PVC patches, whether 2D or 3D, consist of at least 2 levels or layers and recessed lines as required by the design. Choosing a 2D or 3D effect does not affect the layers and levels of the patch in any way.

When choosing between the two, the decision solely depends on your artwork. So let us now explain below how to make the choice between 2D or 3D for your custom PVC patches.


The 2D effect is consists of layers and levels but if you look at the patch sideways you will find that the levels are flat. The 2D effect is good for all kinds of designs whether they are text based have faces or objects, you can say that it is the standard PVC patch.

custom 2D PVC patch

As we can see on the Anaheim Police patch that the layers and levels are there all around the patch but none of the area is curved or sculpted. This is a 2D patch.


The 3D effect is stereo-graphic, having a little depth to it. The 3D effect consists of levels but if you look sideways the level is sculpted giving it a round and swollen effect. The 3D effect is a great choice for designs that have faces and living creatures, or even objects where you think a sculpted level will make that specific aspect of the design standout from the rest of the patch.

custom 3D PVC patch

In this paramedic patch we can clearly see that the skull is sculpted and curved and has a certain round and swollen effect to it.

Combining 2D and 3D

Here’s where it gets creative. If you have a design that has a skull and some text you can choose to keep the text 2D and ask for the skull to be done in the 3D effect. This way the skull will be swollen and sculpted giving it a much lively and realistic effect. You can do this for all designs and ask us to make the choice for you.

2D and 3D combination customized PVC patch

You can see that the stars in this patch have a 3D effect whereas the stripes are flat with a 2D effect. The logo in the middle also has a 3D effect.

Price Comparison

The first step in manufacturing PVC patches is to engrave a metal mold according to the design. If the patch is 3D then deep and sculpted engraving is required on the metal mold and a thicker mold is used, as a result more PVC liquid is dispensed in to the mold which increases the price of 3D patches.

For 2D patches the mold is not required to be cut deep and thinner molds can be used and as a result less PVC liquid dispensed as the mold is not deep, so 2D PVC patches are cheaper than 3D.

How to Make Your Choice

It is not a necessity to always go for a 3D effect when your design consists of faces or objects. The choice is yours and depends on creative thinking. You want to make the patch aesthetically appealing and for that it is not necessary to go with 3D. Sometimes 2D patches can look much better than 3D patches because they are designed that way. You can also combine the two effects on a single design and come up with a much better looking patch. There are some limitations when choosing 3D; we need to make sure that the area we need to make 3D is large enough, as there should be enough area for the effect to achieve its full effect.

With the information above you will be able to determine which effect is best for your patches. If you are not sure just fill out the price quote request form and let us suggest what will work best for your particular design.