Graphene is a single-atomic layer of carbon atoms. Organized in a hexagonal lattice, it is considered a “wonder material” that contains an array of properties unparalleled in other structures and materials. For example, it is an excellent conductor with extreme properties in flexibility and transparency. The greatest catch is that graphene is 7.5 times lighter than air.
By integrating graphene into nanocomposite materials, the traditional materials used in 3D printing can be greatly improved. This includes plastics. Even though graphene is 12% lighter than the second lightest material in the world, when used in 3D printing, it can make the material “mechanically stronger and with improved thermal and electrical conductivity,” according to Graphene-Info.
Companies in various industries are beginning to engage in research and development efforts pertaining to 3D printing with graphene because of its unique applicability to electronics, energy storage, drug delivery, and composite materials development. These companies are now eligible for R&D Tax Credits.
The Research & Development Tax Credit
Enacted in 1981, the federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:
- New or improved products, processes, or software
- Technological in nature
- Elimination of uncertainty
- Process of experimentation
Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated with developing a patent. On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed the bill making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax and startup businesses can utilize the credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.
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