Navigating Poly Risks: A Guide for 3D Printing Companies

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AXA Future Risks Report 2023 [Source: AXA]

Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi examine what Poly Risks mean for the 3D printing industry.

When we say “Poly Risks” we are not talking about 3D printed polymer materials.

Poly Risks mean multifaceted overall risks and are a concern of Thomas Buberl, the CEO of AXA the global insurance company. Some of the Poly Risks that Buberl is concerned about include Cyber Risk, Geopolitical Risk, and Climate Risk. We have added Supply Chain Risk to the Poly Risk list.

Cyber Risk

Some of the 3D printing industry’s largest opportunities are with defense/aerospace products and MedTech devices.

Increasingly these business sectors need smart products with 3D printed embedded electronics where cyber security is paramount.

Manufacturers in the defense sector are subject to mandatory Department of Defense (DOD) compliance requirements.

Hospitals are no longer protected sanctuaries and have been subject to numerous hacks and ransomware extortions. New York State has announced US$500 million in grants to improve cyber security to help address the current crisis.

Geopolitical Risk

Global conflicts are the daily headline news stories. At AXA, Buberl steered the company to profitability despite taking a US$325 million charge related to the Ukraine war. Governments throughout the world including the US, Europe, and Asia are markedly increasing the defense portion of their national budgets. In previous periods of conventional warfare 3D printing was not a mature technology. Now 3D printing is being utilized in the defense sector to recover product design, improve product design, and accelerate volume production.

Climate Risk

Climate Risk is of profound concern, especially for future generations. The significant Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Tax incentives accompanied by state incentives such as grants and tax credits are revamping the energy infrastructure in the US. These new inducements are straight away reshaping the US solar and geothermal markets. Consequently, many new US solar farms are being built right now, and we are witnessing a dramatic rise in geothermal projects.

Supply Chain Risk

The Coronavirus pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of US supply chains leading to newer and more diversified offshore supplier networks and increased onshoring. The Geopolitical and Climate Risks discussed earlier amplify the necessity for ensuring more reliable critical product supply chains.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

The enduring Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is accessible for firms that are crafting new or superior products, procedures, and/or software.

3D printing can enhance a company’s R&D Tax Credits. Salaries for technical personnel constructing, examining, and adjusting 3D printed prototypes could be incorporated as a fraction of eligible time expended for the R&D Tax Credit. In a similar way, the time used up on incorporating 3D printing hardware and software, when it’s employed as a process enhancement method, counts as an eligible activity. Ultimately, costs of filaments used up in the development process could also be retrieved when used for modeling and pre-production.

Irrespective of whether it’s utilized for shaping and testing prototypes or for final manufacture, 3D printing is a solid signal that R&D Credit eligible activities are ongoing. Companies who incorporate this technology at any juncture should contemplate taking advantage of R&D Tax Credits.

Conclusion

The 3D printing industry will benefit from evaluating the Poly Risks. With cyber awareness, the 3D printing industry will create more secure and reliable products. Geopolitical and Climate Risks create business opportunities. Strong supply chains avoid business interruption.

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