Charles R. Goulding and Lara Tomiko look at how Finland has organized to significantly grow their 3D printing activity.
Finland has always had a unique geographic history. The country borders Russia, and is not part of Scandinavia on its Southern border.
Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country has been steadily increasing its defense budget. Finland is currently considering joining NATO, which requires a minimum defense budget contribution of 2% of their GDP.
The FAME Ecosystem
Finland acknowledged that it lagged in 3D printing and in late 2020, DIMECC Ltd., the leading innovation platform in the Finnish manufacturing industry, created the FAME ecosystem. FAME stands for Finland Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem. FAME allows Finnish companies in the 3D printing industry to coalesce by sharing resources, both technical and educational.
The founding members of FAME are: k3D-Step, 3D Formtech, Andritz, CITEC, DBE Core, Delva, Elomatic, EOS Finland, Etteplan, Huld, Lillbacka Powerco, MiniFactory, Origo Engineering, Patria, Raute, Vossi and Wärtsilä.
The companies that are part of the FAME ecosystem are aiming to achieve 5% of the global 3D printing market volume by 2030, an ambitious goal.
Finland is currently focused on executing a fighter plane program and fighter planes have numerous 3D components that will require repair and replacement. At the end of 2021, Finland purchased 64 F35 fighter planes from Lockheed for US$9.6B.
The Research & Development Tax Credit
The now permanent Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is available for companies developing new or improved products, processes and/or software.
3D printing can help boost a company’s R&D Tax Credits. Wages for technical employees creating, testing and revising 3D printed prototypes can be included as a percentage of eligible time spent for the R&D Tax Credit. Similarly, when used as a method of improving a process, time spent integrating 3D printing hardware and software counts as an eligible activity. Lastly, when used for modeling and preproduction, the costs of filaments consumed during the development process may also be recovered.
Whether it is used for creating and testing prototypes or for final production, 3D printing is a great indicator that R&D Credit eligible activities are taking place. Companies implementing this technology at any point should consider taking advantage of R&D Tax Credits.
By concurrently fortifying its defenses and 3D printing, Finland is focused on two important initiatives that complement each other.