3D Printing of Fishing Gear and R&D Tax Credits

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Are you planning a fishing trip or simply going to the lake early in the morning to catch some bait? Either way, a suitable fishing rod is one of the most important factors of having success out on the water. Avid anglers know that in order to get the best bite, it is important to fish with the right equipment in a precise location without scaring any of the fish. Using the right equipment will allow for rapid and successful baitcasting, and 3D printing can help.

Upon arriving at the lake, many fishermen will first survey the water to determine which bait or lure to use. In addition to target species and level of angler competence, conditions of the water such as temperature, clarity and light levels often dictate which types of fishing approach is best. Different combinations of these factors require the use of specific baits and lures, all of which are available in many different styles. Companies that are involved in 3D printing of fishing rods and other needed equipment are eligible for R&D tax credits.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • Must be technological in nature
  • Must be a component of the taxpayers business
  • Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process
  • Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives

Eligible costs include US employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, US contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum tax for companies with revenue below $50MM and for the first time, pre-profitable and pre-revenue startup businesses can utilize the credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.


Engineers are getting innovative when it comes to 3D printed fishing equipment. For example, Quantum, a company that combines high-performance materials to develop innovative fishing industry products, uses the latest in 3D printing technology to create a sleek, ergonomic reel design. The company ensures durable gear with long-lasting performance by utilizing precision 3D computer design software, followed by computer stress analyses. Final designs are then 3D printed and undergo a series of quality and durability tests in a laboratory setting. This iterative process allows for a reel design with minimal excess weight without sacrificing strength which is a major factor when fishing.


Fishermen can now put their own lures to the test on the water. One of the key ways to attract fish is to use various types of lures. As mentioned before, the type of lure to use depends greatly on the conditions of the water. For success in any environment, lures can be easily 3D printed in various shapes, sizes and colors.

Jacob Stanton, an industrial designer based in Chicago, created and tested 3D printed fishing lures. With a strong interest and curiosity in materials science and technology, Stanton allowed his creativity to go unrestrained with the speed and versatility that 3D printing has to offer during the prototyping process. Printing techniques that were utilized include pausing mid-print in order to include rattles, as well as the print in place model, where multiple moving parts are printed without the need for assembly. A variety of lure designs were developed, including segmented swimbait, hollow minnow bait, double blade bait and topwater bait.


When shopping for fishing rods, anglers are looking for a product that is lightweight and flexible for a good cast, yet sturdy and powerful for landing a fish. MakeXYZ is equipped with several unique, user-made fishing rod designs, including small pocket rods.  Also available are prints for smaller components such as rod holders, line guides, reel handles and cranks, which may break or become damaged during use. Having the ability to customize, print and replace these parts in advance or as needed can be very advantageous for fishermen who plan ahead. It also eliminates having to replace an expensive rod or purchase a new component, effectively extending the lifespan of their gear.

Tackle Box

3D printing has extended into the largely unspoken aspect of fishing that involves storage and organization. Presently, there are numerous designs available on Thingiverse that will provide fishermen with the files needed to print tackle boxes, reel cubbies, storage trays as well as replacement parts, such as tackle box latches and handles. This is beneficial to those with specific fishing gear – maybe even some which is 3D printed.


3D printing is quickly revolutionizing the way companies develop and test products. The fishing industry is no different. Technical activities such as designing fishing equipment and developing prototypes provide excellent opportunities for obtaining credits that can be used for obtaining cash rebates that can be used to offset tax liability. Companies that utilize 3D printing in any stage of the development process may be eligible for federal and state R&D tax credits.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.


 Charles Goulding and Alize Margulis of R&D Tax Savers discuss 3D printing in the fishing industry. 


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