PLASTEC East Expo and 3D Printing: A Review
Steve Kelly, Liam Nixon and Cameron Torti of R&D Tax Savers review 3D printing as seen at the recent PLASTEC East Expo.
From June 11th-13th, six trade shows featuring over 550 companies from medical design, manufacturing, automation, packaging and more set up their displays at the Javits Convention Center in NYC. Cameron Torti, Liam Nixon, and Steve Kelly were in attendance on June 11th and 13th representing R&D Tax Savers to learn more about what these industries have to offer.
The PLASTEC East and 3D printing booths were in adjacent locations within the Javits Center. We were surprised to see only around 20 companies make up the PLASTEC East portion of the event. Nonetheless, the PLASTEC East companies that we did speak to were impressive. The displays of the 3D printing companies were very intriguing. There were both 3D printers and 3D printed items on display. Some items included everyday household items such as an Xbox controller skin and a razor. There were also scanners on display that scanned models that were uploaded as CAD files ready to be 3D printed. Overall, the marketing push seems to have migrated from 3D printing as a prototyping tool, to one used for solving real problems in manufacturing and assembly.
There were several design and manufacturing companies adjacent to the 3D printing area. Throughout the middle of the Javits Center, the majority of the event was populated with MD&M East, showcasing medical design and manufacturing companies. Lastly, the other side of the venue housed the ATX East and EastPack companies. Although the majority of exhibitors were from the United States, we did meet numerous companies from Asia, including China and Israel. Overall, the event was definitely worthwhile, as it featured cutting-edge technologies in the fields of plastics, 3D printing, manufacturing, and more.
Onshape is a company that was on display in the 3D printing section of the event. They are a CAD company that utilizes cloud computing and data management to offer to customers an online collaboration space, similar to Google Drive, but with more advanced capabilities. Their trade show display included a computer with their software, which immediately caught our eyes. Onshape provides companies with a state-of-the-art collaboration space in an industry that is looking very bright for designers in the future.
Cimquest is a multi-state 3D printing reseller that R&D Tax Savers has previously reported on. They are currently offering new 3D printers ranging from entry-level to industrial use, Mastercam (which delivers CAD/CAM software tools for all types of programming), a wide array of 3D scanners including handheld scanners, and Modelx3D, a CAE for plastics injection molding. On the show floor, they were exhibiting a Desktop Metal 3D printer and 3D models being scanned live.
3D Hubs is a manufacturing company that utilizes CAD technology to manufacture parts on demand for customers. Customers utilize the online interface to submit designs for their parts, along with materials used and specifications. Drawings can also aid in this process. 3D Hubs then gives these customers a quote for each unit of the parts the customer may order. 3D Hubs provides customers with an easy way of producing their parts and communicating what exactly they want created. 3D Hubs has produced over 2 million parts worldwide. When speaking with a representative, they noted that CNC Milling was the fastest growing sector on their platform.
Plastics Services Network (PSN)
Plastics Services Network (PSN) is an engineering company that is centered on product and material development in the markets of industrial goods, transportation, consumer products, healthcare, and energy. Beyond product and material development, PSN offers services in the areas of processing, testing and analysis, and engineering support. PSN started their firm in plastics, but they have now expanded beyond just plastics to new heights in all areas of engineering.
Global 3D Systems, Inc. (G3D)
One of the fastest growing 3D printing companies on NASDAQ, G3D’s aim is to provide the highest quality desktop 3D printers at the best value. Their new T-1000 model boasts an industry-leading 2.6+ inches/hour, while maintaining 120 µm to 7.5 µm Quality. It is also economic in terms of space. Their printers are also compatible with any web browsing device.
Keyence was in attendance and was demonstrating several new technologies for quality assurance and control. Most notable was a new Instant Measuring system that operates similar to 3D scanners by projecting light onto the surface. The IM-7030 coupled with Keyence’s software was able to generate full 3D scans and profiles of a component. This is a promising development towards industrial quality control that may be used in 3D printing industries.
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 U.S. employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, U.S. 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. Since 2016, the R&D credit has been used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for companies with revenue below $50MM and, startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll tax cash rebates.
Overall, R&D Tax Savers was very impressed with all of the latest engineering developments put on display at the Javits Center. These displays stretched across multiple industries, including plastics, manufacturing, packaging, medical device manufacturing, and 3D printing. Work in these areas may lead to qualification for the now-permanent Research and Development Tax Credit.