Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a process used to create a physical (or 3D) object by layering materials one by one based on a digital model, and making things with 3D printers is changing the rules of manufacturing as we know it.
3D printers are now moving well beyond making plastic objects, or even rapid industrial prototyping. Today, 3D printers can not only handle materials ranging from titanium to human cartilage, but also produce fully functional components. Recently, the Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing have started investigating if 3D printers could be used to recreate parts at the circuit to avoid carrying thousands of spare parts to each race track they visit. By using resin and powdered composite materials in printers, parts can be printed which are a replacement to the current carbon fibre used.
This could lead to a whole new concept to just in time engineering, with 3D printers completing parts on the assembly line, which would reduce dramatically shipping and storage costs with many stating it could be the third industrial revolution.
Currently, there has not been a better time to consider the gains from additive manufacturing, as announced in the Budget from 1 January 2019 (until 31 December 2020), the Annual Investment Allowance will be temporarily increased from £200,000 to £1,000,000, which means 100% tax relief would be given in the year of purchase for the majority of the capital expenditure.
Furthermore, if you use 3D printing to help with R&D processes, such as rapid prototyping, or making the manufacturing process more efficient and reduced production costs, then you are very likely to be eligible for R&D Tax Credits, which for a small company would be worth up to 14.5% of the surrenderable loss in the year.
This article origianally appeared on the blog of our member firm, MHA Moore & Smalley.