Reimagining Facility Management: The Rising Trend of Digital Twins

By on May 27th, 2023 in news, Usage

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San Francisco International Airport [Source: AMA]

Charles Goulding and Mwansa Chabala believe the rise in use of digital twins could lead to more 3D printing.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had an extensive article on the increasing use of digital twins for facilities. The article centered around the San Francisco airport which has 5,000 acres, 18 million square feet and 97 buildings. In the airport’s case the digital model is constantly updated by data from smart sensors located throughout the airport. The digital twin is used to manage and improve the airport.

Black Hawk Helicopter [Source: Lockheed Martin]

The WSJ article also covered the project at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that is using digital twins to modernize hydroelectric plants. This process will enable these plants to better coordinate with the increased amount of alternative energy available in the electric grid.

Soon after this article, Fabbaloo’s Kerry Stevenson wrote about essential digitization and the need for small museums to use digital twins for their valuable collections. Many large museums embarked on digital twin initiatives after a tragic Brazilian museum fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable artifacts which we detailed in our article titled A Dire Warning for Museums from Brazil. With digital twinning, lost items can be recreated with 3D printing. We have written articles on the digital twinning of helicopters and tanks related to the Ukraine war. 

As more and more facilities create digital twins they can be connected for even more valuable networks. Connected Digital twin networks can be used for supply chain planning and for traffic planning such as stadium events. 

The Research and 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.


The rapid growth of digital twinning has unforeseen benefits. Use of 3D printing could grow as a side effect of digital twin practices.

By Charles Goulding

Charles Goulding is the Founder and President of R&D Tax Savers, a New York-based firm dedicated to providing clients with quality R&D tax credits available to them. 3D printing carries business implications for companies working in the industry, for which R&D tax credits may be applicable.

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