3D Printing of Pizza and R&D Tax Credits


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Craving a slice of pizza? Well if not yet, you surely will have a craving by the end of this article. Kevin Drake, who bakes pizza at the University of Indiana’s dining court, says that pizza is American comfort food. Many commercial kitchens, chefs, scientists, and culinary professionals have become creative and begun designing and 3D printing slices to full size pizza pies. Scientists, designers, and others who invest in 3D printing of their 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 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, US contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

3D Printing of Pizza

Scientists and engineers use 3D printed cheeses to make printed pizzas in different shapes and sizes. A silicon start-up company, BeeHex, invented robots that can 3D print pizza. They discovered that processed cheese structures are altered by both heating and shearing during 3D printing. The softer textures that are obtained are due to weaker structures. Implications depend on consumer expectations and planned use. Functionality and texture of dairy products can be altered by 3D printing; however it is still in the early stages. Many businesses of the future want to provide food options for customers that are convenient and quick. 3D printing food will provide personalization of food options and less training spent for new hired staff at restaurants.

University Students and Consumption

Studies have demonstrated that students at universities consumed the most pizza. A study from USDA reveals over 13% of Americans consume pizza on any given day with college age people among the groups with the highest reported percentages. The pizza restaurants are usually the ones to stay open past 10 PM, great to pick up food while working on a group project with your teammates. Pizza is a great late night snack and allows students to choose from a selection such as crust, toppings, cheese and sauces. The Chef 3D printer is to be installed in theme parks, sports arenas and malls. Restaurants and kiosks that have the Chef 3D hope to make pizzas that are not only gluten free for celiac customers but also shaped like cartoon characters for kids. 3D printing is changing the face of manufacturing. The Chef 3D printer easily processes sauce and melted cheese which takes only about a minute. The endless variations of “building your own” pizza make it more feasible for 3D printing. Capsules of food can be inserted into the nozzle and each size nozzle can accommodate different textures. 3D printable toppings such as leaner meats will contain fewer calories and less fat, making your pizza addiction healthier than expected.

3D Printing in Space

Would you taste 3D printed pizza in space? Space food is usually unappetizing and freeze dried so it can be eaten at near-weightless environments out of Earth’s orbit. Food preparation in space is usually done in the deck by using a galley. The galley is a unit that contains a water dispenser and an oven. The water dispenser is used for rehydrating foods, and the galley oven is used for warming foods to the proper serving temperature. Usually for a 90 day mission in space, the menu consists of frozen, refrigerated and ambient foods that can be stored for two week increments. Astronauts wanted to mix up their food selection and print a variety of food products that were both colorful and nutritious. Hence, astronauts and scientists created the earliest food printers for space.

NASA Funds 3D Printing Study

NASA funded a six-month $125,000 study on 3D printing of foods that helped determine the technology needed to provide a variety of foods. NASA believes that 3D printing food that was made on Earth would benefit the onboard manufacturing processes. Scientists analyzed the differences between printing foods in space versus printing in anti-gravity. When astronauts determined the capability of this technology they realized that there were new printing opportunities available for astronauts. One of the first foods they initially attempted in space was using the Chef 3D printer to make pizza pies. The dough would be extruded from a tube; the printer would print the dough in a spiral and then layer it with tomato sauce and add any needed toppings. Cheese is an important nutrient for healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting and maintenance of normal blood pressure. NASA is focused on engineering materials that could withstand various altitudes and duration of time when in orbit.

Pizza Cutters

Ask any mathematician and they would agree that there is a certain way to cut 12 even slices in a pie. Joel Haddlet and Stephen Worsley of the University of Liverpool came up with a method to cut the perfect slice known as the monohedral disc tiling. The process began by cutting the pie into six curved three-sided shapes that take the appearance of a star shape coming out of the center. Since 3D printers can print just about anything, ingenious people have created a pizza cutter that looks like a large wheeled bike. The bladed part represents the wheel and the frame of the bike is used for the individual to hold and use to slice. Each part of the pizza cutter can be printed and then assembled together. If you are interested in antiquity and a cycling fan, search on Thingiverse for the Big Wheel Pizza Cutter and you will not be disappointed. For those mathematicians in the field, spruce up the kitchen with multiple PI shaped pizza cutters. When cooking a homemade pizza with chicken or beef, a larger pizza cutter that appears like a wrench will be the most feasible. These pizza cutters will cut even sliced pieces and will add an enhanced modernity to the kitchen.

Packaging Made Easy

Packaging for some is considered a carrying container to get a product from point A to point B while others believe that the packaging influences the consumer’s perception of the good. After printing your pizza, package it in a homemade printed box. Environmentally friendly people choose to decrease their consumption of boxes. Recycled materials can be inserted into a 3D printer to make the boxes. Restaurants that adopt 3D printing pizzas also print their own boxes. They use pizza packaging as a way to put advertising, co-op promotions and specials on the box.

Taiwanese 3D Printer

A Taiwanese conglomerate, New Kinpo Group, earns about $30 billion in annual revenues and is the parent of XYZprinting. AT CES 2015 they introduced a 3D printer that produces pizza. The XYZprinting 3D printer takes tubes of ingredients and creates freshly made pizza dough and various pizza toppings. The printer provides numerous options for customizing your pie. 3D printing provides endless possibilities for consumption of products and will benefit the future of restaurants.


The 3D printing capabilities of pizza could improve the value of individuals’ meals and essentially increase the rate at which fast food chains can serve their food. Technological advancements in food production have enhanced the food system. There are new ways to make the food healthy and more sustainable. Engineers and scientists who engage in pizza food printing 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 pizza.


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