Split flap display

Hello friends! I am interested in making a split flap display similar to what’s described here. There are lots of examples of both 3D printed and laser cut versions of this type of display.

For this project cost is a major factor. Most examples show 4 digit displays, probably because they’re using expensive materials for the flaps. The one I’ve linked above uses plexiglass, which seems extremely expensive for this purpose! I’ve seen PVC suggested as a cheaper/thinner material, but that’s not laser-able. We want to make a display with a hundred or more digits.

My questions for the forum: Has anyone here made a similar type of thing before? Any hot tips around doing it? Any suggestions for a cheap, thin material to use for the flaps? I’d lean towards maximally cheap and replaceable for this project. Cardboard is on my list to try out.


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Mattboard might work if you need stiff and fairly indestructible. It can run from .06" to 0.14" thick. (And very Glowforgeable. I have optimal score and engrave settings )

You can also get mattboard with a dark core, although that might be getting a little pricier. But it comes in a huge variety of colors and patterns.

And one other thing that might wind up being a time saver…mattboard just consists of a thin sheet of colored paper pasted down over a pulp core…kind of like the plywoods…you might be able to just score the letters out of the top paper and weed out the letter and get an interesting effect, rather than engrave it. It might be a lot faster. (There might be some fuzz though…depends on the mattboard.)

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Maybe oilboard?

Matboard or oilboard would probably work great. If you want something even thinner (about 0.037”) you could try this card stock—it’s the thickest I’ve ever encountered.

Accent 188179R 325 GSM/8.5 x 11"/120 lb. Opaque Thick Cardstock Paper, White https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0114MUOOO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_qSArCbBRYX4JJ

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