3D printers can now be used to print a variety of pet products, toys and accessories. Name plates, hamster wheels, dog bones and bird perches are just a few of the endless array of items that are aptly suited for production using a 3D printer. Even apparel such as dog shoes and “cat armor” can be perfectly tailored to your pet’s size and shape in order to protect them from thorns, weather and other animals. 3D printed dispensers for disbursing water and pet food are particularly common. Pooper scoopers, pet brushes and toy racks are also typical. When innovators use 3D printers to manufacture items for pets such as these they may eligible for Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits which are available to stimulate innovation.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • New or improved products, processes, or software
  • Technological in nature
  • Elimination of uncertainty
  • Process of experimentation

Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated with developing a patent. On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed the bill making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax and startup businesses can utilize the credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.

Prototyping

One of the most common uses for the 3D printer involves using the printer to create prototypes. Innovators benefit because they can test ideas without large investments in production equipment such as highly priced ink jet molds or outsourcing services to a contract manufacturer. Even in the pet accessories industry there are numerous engineering problems with common products that remain unsolved. For example, retractable dog leashes often malfunction, break or jam during use. One innovator, Andy Bratton, a student at Appalachian State University, set out to solve these issues with the use of a 3D printer. He used a 3D printed handle to enclose a rope tensioner and tape leash. The product improved upon previous designs because it allows the user to reel in their pet even when there is tension on the line.

Production

Some pet accessory producers utilize 3D printing entirely for the production of pet products. In other words, every product, even after development is manufactured using a 3D printer. Other typical uses involve home-aid products printed by the consumer. One such product, designed by HW-Arts, is the first 3D printed toy for hyperactive dogs. The product, a plastic 3D printed sphere, opens so that pet owners can fill it with edible treats or items that rattle or stimulate smell.

Custom Products

One of the main benefits provided by 3D printers is the ability to create precise one-of-a kind products economically. In the pet industry, 3D printers are often used to print clothes, medical products and prosthetics. Ever see a three legged dog or other animal hobbling around the neighborhood? I’m sure you have. This phenomenon is quite common. Ever see them jumping for joy once they gain the use of that limb after suffering a life with severe limitation?  3D printed prosthetics include a variety of pegs, carts and rollers. 3D scanners and modeling software is utilized to quickly take measurements of the animal and produce a perfectly fitted prosthetic with little lead time.

Conclusion

3D printers can now be used to print a variety of pet products, toys and accessories. They are commonly used for a variety of purposes including prototyping, production and making custom products. When the 3D print method is used, innovators may be eligible for R&D Tax Credits which are available to stimulate innovation.

 


Charles R. Goulding and Michael Wilshere of R&D Tax Savers discuss 3D printed pet products.

 

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