3D Printing Has Expanded into the Frozen Dessert Market
Charles Goulding and Ryan Donley of R&D Tax Savers examine delicious applications of 3D printing.
For years ice cream innovation has remained the same in regards to the technology used to produce the delicious final product. In response to pressures related to growing dietary preferences, many efforts within the industry have been geared towards producing non-dairy, artisan, and organic ice cream that is healthy while maintaining the familiar taste that consumers love. In recent years, the introduction of a certain disruptive technology has been used to create new and creative ice cream ideas, and that tool is the 3D printer. Although further developments are still necessary, 3D printing has found its place within the frozen dessert industry and has been made a niche among many creative creamists.
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.
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, startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll taxes and cash rebates.
Companies Utilizing 3D Printing to Produce Frozen Morsels
Additive manufacturing has already been utilized across numerous industries and continues to expand it’s reach into more unexpected markets. The food industry in particular has steadily adopted the use of 3D printers for innovation in a competitive market, and has been increasingly integrated into nearly every food product segment. Even ice cream is now capable of being 3D printed due to the combination of technological advancements in 3D printing systems as well as food equipment and machinery.
Vegan confection startup Dream Pops has gained a lot of traction after being featured in five Starbucks locations in the greater Los Angeles area for a limited time promotion. Although Dream Pops is focusing their R&D efforts towards developing a delicious plant-based ice cream alternative free of dairy, gluten and soy, the company is also utilizing 3D printing to produce intricate design moulds to create a shape that otherwise would not be achieved without the use of 3D printing technologies.
Massachussets Institution of Technology
As part of a graduate project, three students at MIT manipulated a 3D printer to be capable of producing ice cream in any shape. The modified 3D printer is connected to a Cuisinart ice cream maker that uses a cooling system of liquid nitrogen tocreate the desired shape of ice cream. The printer squeezes out soft serve ice cream in layers until a shape is formed. So far, the students have been capable of producing a star shaped ice cream. With potential for refinement and improvements, this proof of concept system can be further developed from a student project to a commercial product on the market.
Robots in Gastronomy/Cocktail Lab
Barcelona-based Robots in Gastronomy (RIG) is a research and design group focusing on how up and coming technologies may be pertinent to gastronomy. The group, which includes Michelin Star Chefs, Industrial Designers, Interaction Designers and High End Kitchen Equipment Distributors, has worked with Cocktail Lab to experiment with homeade ice cream recipes. The formulation was perfected using their very own FoodForm 3D printer coupled with an Anti-Griddle from Polyscience, a flash freezing device capable of reaching temperatures as low as -30°F while doubling as the printer’s build plate. This union allows for the extruded ice cream to be chilled quickly layer by layer. The head of RIG, Luis E. Frugada, hopes that one day we as humans will have more control over the elements we put into our bodies, as poor nutrition is the root to many medical problems and hopes 3D printing can provide ample solutions.
Pixsweet is a company that adds its own unique twist to 3D printed desserts by mass producing custom made 3D ice pops on demand. Using their patented 3D thermoinjection technology, Pixsweet can turn any shape desired into a frozen treat at the rate of 1.3 pops per second. Not only does Pixsweet offer ice pops in a variety unique flavor, but these refreshing ices are also 100% natural, vegan, and gluten free. Pixsweet was pioneered by Janne Kyttanen who created the first production process that is a fully-scalable use of 3D printing for mass customization that has presented an opportunity for 3D printing applications.
The use of additive manufacturing in the ice cream market has not only unlocked innovation for companies and students alike but has also been widely accepted by consumers who are quickly adapting to the changing trends. The rise of 3D printing in the food industry will continue to provide new opportunities for never before seen products and processes to reach commercial markets. Companies testing these possibilities may be eligible to take the Federal R&D Tax Credit, which is available to support domestic innovation.