3D Printing of Tofu Products and R&D Tax Credits


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A healthy diet has been proven to reduce the chances of developing cancer and other chronic diseases. Eating well boosts the immune system and fortifies the body against any other types of communicable diseases. Soy is a renewable, environmentally-friendly product that has played a role in the path to healthy living. The use of soy products has risen over the past couple of years and the use of soy industrial products has increased from 1.15 to 1.35 billion pounds. Soybeans cover about one-quarter of American farmland and are the number two largest US crop after corn. Scientists and engineers are experimenting with ways to use soy filaments in 3D printers to produce food and other objects. Businesses and engineers who 3D print soy products 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 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 obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll taxes and cash rebates.


The soy protein in tofu can curb the risk of heart disease by reducing the low density lipoprotein. Are you looking for a healthier alternative? The origins of tofu are rooted in the East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. It is a bean curd that can be eaten soft, firm or extra firm and is cultivated by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into white blocks.

With the increase in trends of “clean eating,” market research from market research company Mintell says that 11% of Brits have tried to follow a vegan diet. According to research conducted by the Nielsen global survey, 23% of consumers choose to eat more plant-based protein foods. In North America, 39% of Americans and 43% of Canadians have incorporated more plant-based options in their diets. Those who do go vegan eliminate animal products from their diets including meat, fish, milk and cheese, eggs, and honey. However, many people also choose tofu as a side dish to their entrees including lasagna, dips, etc.

Do you have a craving for tofu? Then visit the site Yeggi and search for the tofu tray that best fits your fancy. Some of the designs are trays that can print tofu in the shape of fish. Also, one in three Americans like tofu including about 45% of millennials. About 67% of Americans who choose tofu eat it because it’s a healthier option to all meat products. In fact, health studies recommend that one should incorporate at least 25 grams of soy in their diet per day. It will provide additional vitamins and overall be beneficial for one’s health.

The below image demonstrates a hybrid kitchen which features digital and analog cooking instruments. The 3D printer being used is the Printrbot Simple Metal machine that has a heating bed and paste and food extruder for 3D printing a tofu coral structure. The laser cutter that is being used has custom design procedures which merge together with some cooking recipes which allows for many versions of the same dish.

Tofu Press

Soy is a healthy alternative and can be easily printed. Simply use a 3D printer to make a tofu press machine and then process your own tofu. This tofu press drains the water from the tofu parts allowing it to form individual foam-like squares. On MyMiniFactory, there are designs that can be printed and then used to assemble your own press. It is affordable and a great alternative for various types of tofu including fresh, soft, firm and even frozen tofu.

Nano-Cellulose and 3D Printing

Scientists at the Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem developed a way to 3D print food, specializing in the vegan market. Nano-cellulose is a renewable resource and consists of tiny fibers which enable the binding of different food components including proteins, carbohydrates and fat. After, the nano-cellulose is able to print out vegan foods from a 3D printer. The university states that 3D printing is opening doors to the customization of food and the personalized food options offers food options for individuals suffering from Celiac or diabetes.

Soy Material – FilaSoy

Students from Purdue University used soybean-based material to 3D print objects. Soy can be used to create a thermoplastic which is a low-energy, low-temperature and recyclable filament. Soybeans are often used to replace products such as wood-like furniture, flooring and countertops. Soybeans are also used for bio-diesel fuel for diesel engines.

Plastic filaments are usually used in 3D printing. However, scientists and researchers have resorted to thermoplastics to use in printing objects and food. Filasoy is made of a PLA which is a polylactide made from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca root and sugar cane.

Additive manufacturing in the food industry has a huge potential for the future of digital food technologies. One of the 3D printers, a Foodini, uses a paste extruder with fresh ingredients prepared before printing. The ChefJet Pro is another 3D printer that is based on solidification of edible powders such as sugar and is another solution for 3D printing tofu food products.

Engineers are exploring ways to use digital tools to then determine the distribution of ingredients which impact the process of eating the food. Engineers are looking at ways to develop a recipe that uses different ingredients and are also developing virtual models to help determine the style of the dish.


Businesses are looking for ways to become “greener” and provide renewable resources to replace the petrochemical products and therefore are turning to soybeans. The soybean is adaptable and can be used to feed humans and animals to develop products for everyday use. Businesses and engineers who are involved with 3D printing with soy may be eligible for 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 printed soy. 


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