Innovations that increase productivity and efficiency are readily welcomed across many industries and companies, as well as private homes. These innovations can make mundane aspects of life, such as watering produce or washing your car, a bit easier. Hoses, an essential yet overlooked tool, are being impacted by emerging 3D printing technologies. 3D printing has made the lives of individuals considerably easier by allowing them to print simple items that are too often difficult to find for sale, such as hose clamps and connectors. Industrial hoses are also being prototyped and manufactured by way of 3D printing, allowing for a smoother and faster manufacturing process. Companies that are using 3D printers to facilitate hose and hose accessory manufacturing may be eligible for the Research and Development Tax Credit.
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.
ERIKS, an industrial service provider, uses 3D printing for many of their products including hoses. Specifically, 3D printing is primarily utilized for rapid prototyping. For their industrial and hydraulic hose products, 3D printing has allowed their engineers to discover design issues at a faster rate than before. Additionally, the company makes some of their rubber technology with 3D printing.
Open Source CAD Designs
Websites like Thingiverse and Yeggi provide a space where users can upload and share all kinds of open-source designs. All of these designs are available for download, either for free or for a cost, including many gardening and farm tools. In this faucet-to-hose adapter, a 3D printed nozzle can screw into a standard faucet and connect to a hose through a short tube. Other hose designs include spray heads, hose holders, connectors, hose clamps, and faucet keys. These designs are created by individuals who want to share their ideas with the world.
3DPonics – hydroponics system
3DPonics began as a small startup based in Ottawa, Canada with the goal of bringing hydroponics and 3D printing together. A diverse team of engineers, designers, and developers created a 3D printable hydroponics system. The 3DPonics system is made up of 3D printed components and plastic bottles. When put together, the components create a fully functioning personal hydroponics garden, giving individuals and organizations the opportunity to grow their own produce in an efficient and compact manner. Not only does 3DPonics offer a solution to rising produce costs, but it can also be used in schools and universities to teach the growing field of STEM. By bringing together emerging technology and basic life essentials, students may see how technology is shaping and improving the world. The 3DPonics components are available for free download on their website; one would only need their own 3D printer, otherwise one could simply order a print on a website like Sculpteo. 3DPonics also has additional CAD designs available for download such as planters, spouts, nozzles, and sprinklers.
Another interesting and sweeping gardening technology is the FarmBot Genesis, an open-source, computer numerical control farming machine. This system is larger in area and more extensive than the 3DPonics system, allowing users to grow a larger volume of produce. It is essentially a rectangular box with a tool mount equipped with corresponding tools that hang and move over the garden. The universal tool mount is a 3D printed component that holds and automatically switches between the different tools needed for farming. Other 3D printed tools include a camera, seed injector, watering valve, weed suppressor, soil sensor, seed bins, and seed trays. The FarmBot is completely open source which allows people to build their own FarmBot at home, although complete kits are available through their website. Being open source also allows individuals to customize their FarmBot. An example would be if an individual wanted to get a different spray pattern from the water valve then they can 3D print the tool in an alternative shape to get the desired pattern. The entire system is controlled from an online application that allows users to map out their produce and schedule activities such as watering, seeding, weeding, and more. The FarmBot has proved to be more efficient in terms of cost, sustainability, and yield than purchasing produce at a grocery store. The machine itself can be seen as a 3D printer that prints seeds and water instead of traditional materials like plastic.
The opportunities that arise from 3D printed hoses and accessories are beneficial not only to homeowners, but to various companies as well. By utilizing 3D printing, not only are daily tasks made easier, but the tools used to do so are made quickly, cheaply, and can be made easily available for use. Innovative companies investing in research related to 3D printed hoses and accessories may be eligible for R&D tax credits.