R&D Tax Credits Available for 3D Printing of Cake and Baked Goods

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Cake-making is a tasty science experiment that has transcended throughout centuries. Typical ingredients for a standard cake, such as flour, eggs, sweetener, some kind of fat, flavoring and a leavening agent, interact with each other to produce cakes of varying density, texture and taste. Although cake has evolved by the influence of various cultures and civilizations throughout history, it was popularized for birthday festivities in 1400s Germany. However, due to the cost of ingredients, birthday cakes were a luxury largely reserved for the wealthy until the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s helped to make them more accessible and affordable.

Now many bakers are utilizing additive manufacturing to push the limits of traditional cake and confection crafting by making cakes with designs that are delicate, intricate and precise. It is at this intersection of emerging technology and art where the bakery industry is using their creativity to innovate new culinary foods with the use of 3D printing. Companies involved in 3D printing of cakes and bakers’ confections may be 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 taxpayer’s 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, U.S. 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 obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll taxes and cash rebates.

Cake by Print

Using a ChefJet Pro printer, ingredients commonly used to bake traditional cakes that can also be used to print 3D cakes and baked confections include sugar, salt, and water. Desired flavoring can be achieved by adding dehydrated fruit, floral or nut essences to achieve a 3D printed masterpiece. Then, in a true layered cake fashion, pieces of a cake are then printed on top of each other while the printer then spreads the sugar and spews out the wet ingredients to form the actual structure of the baked good.

The advent of new technologies has changed the way bakeries make and sell their goods. 3D printing has demonstrated that simply any confectionary that is thought of could be printed and eaten. Ukrainian pastry designer Dinara Kasko is inspired by symmetry and prints geometric shapes for her cakes. Kasko was studying to be an architect when she discovered 3D printing in the food industry. Using computer modeling software to print 3D intricate molds, her creative ideas have had people in awe of her cakes. She collaborates with Miami-based artist Jose Margulis in creating these “geometrical kinetic tarts.” One of her creations in particular, referred to as “The Bubbles,” was inspired by biomimicry where a bubbling outer shell of white chocolate mousse is covering a layered cake inside. Kasko’s innovative pastry designs are contrary to what people expect to eat. For instance, a pointed hexagon has a chocolate interior. Want a bite of the Hexagon or The Bubbles? Kasko’s silicone molds are available for sale on her website.

3D Systems Culinary Lab

3D Systems has developed the world’s first 3D printing culinary innovation center located in the epicenter of the Los Angeles culinary community. The lab, which features a digital kitchen complete with a ChefJet Pro professional food printer, is intended to provide a space for cooperative learning and collaboration at the intersection of traditional culinary craft and 3D printing. Among the many chefs, mixologists and culinary innovators exploring and shaping the 3D printed food landscape is The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). The CIA plans to commence an intensive beta testing program with the ChefJet Pro, the world’s first professional-grade food 3D printer, which is designed to improve the design and printing experience for professional kitchens.

Chef Duff Goldman, widely known for his creations on Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, also teamed up with 3D Systems Culinary Lab to design a multi-tiered cake that would evoke the traditional silhouette of a wedding cake.  Sharp, complex geometric designs support and decorate each tier while creating a unique take on a culinary mainstay. Kyle and Liz von Hasseln, who founded The Sugar Lab while studying at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, created the 3D printed sugar stand and wedding topper shown above. The Sugar Lab, acquired by 3D Systems in September 2013, is in the business of creating 3D printed sugar sculptures for wedding cakes, table centerpieces and pie toppings and worked with Chef Duff Goldman to complete the wedding cake. The sugar sculptures are created using a mixture of alcohol and water, which is applied in layers to wet and then harden the sugar. By designing and extruding the sugar into a structural, sculptural medium, necessary support is achieved.

Liam MacLeod, 3D printer specialist and head of the CIA’s 3D lab, experimented with edible powder-based substances that once injected in a machine and extruded layer by layer produced various edible textures and flavors. After the design is created and sent to the printer, sugar and carbohydrates are layered to build the cake. MacLeod has stated that food companies such as McCormick & Company and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company have expressed an interest in this new creation of confectionary. One of the sweets that were printed included an Eiffel Tower which took about three and a half hours. Printing tasty treats will increase productivity as chefs will be able to perform other tasks as they let the printer do its job. Partnered with 3D Systems, The Culinary Institute of America is searching new ways to push the limits of technology in the kitchen.


Bakeries and pastry businesses alike are exploring the advances in technology and how it can be used in the culinary industry. Businesses that are involved with 3D printing of cakes and pastries may be eligible for R&D Tax Credits.

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

Charles Goulding and Alize Margulis of R&D Tax Savers discuss 3D printing and baking. 







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