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R&D in the printing Industry is perhaps seeing the biggest development in innovation since the industrial revolution.

Three-dimensional printing has quickly become an integral part of manufacturing and production processes, helping to create accurate prototypes and designs at high speed and low cost. It’s technology that is transforming everything from trade accessories to food packaging and processing.

The printing industry is battling to overcome many hurdles in terms of its efficiencies and impact on the wider environment. R&D has been essential in giving printing firms the time and space to design and develop solutions to the following challenges:

How can R&D reduce the environmental impact of printing?

Printing firms have long had an obligation to minimise their impact on the environment. By taking the time to implement a formal environmental management system, printing businesses can reduce overheads, utilise resources more efficiently and find it easier to comply with environmental legislation. This all leads to an enhanced reputation among clients, competitors and stakeholders that place increasing importance on eco-issues.

Waste reduction of printing processes

Although all industries will generate waste of some form, printing firms are more likely to generate waste than many other sectors. There are numerous facets that can go to waste in the printing process: toner cartridges, ink, waste substrates, chemicals, office waste and even packaging from brand-new supplies. For printing firms with high finishing waste, implementing a process improvement project can tackle the root causes, such as excessively high overs allowances for routine print jobs.

Minimising solvent use

Hazardous substances such as solvents pose a danger to human health and the wider environment. Printing firms have historically used solvents in a range of materials, from thinners and inks to cleaning agents and dampeners. Finding ways to optimise solvent use can improve workplace health, reduce overheads and enhance firms’ reputation with customers, stakeholders and the wider community.

The ability to have the headspace and creative freedom to investigate solutions to the above challenges would be considerably harder without the financial aid of the UK government supporting innovative printing companies. Those kick-starting R&D projects – both successful and failed – are now eligible to claim for R&D tax credits.

R&D in the Printing Industry: Is your printing company eligible?

Any printing firm that can prove the following is able to claim R&D tax relief with HMRC:

  • An attempt to make advancements in science or technology
  • The project was designed to overcome an element of industry uncertainty
  • The project could not have been carried out readily by competent professionals/industry experts

Small and large printing firms can apply for R&D tax credits, based on their number of employees, turnover, or balance sheet total:

Are R&D tax credits available for SMEs in Printing & Packaging?

Printing businesses with less than 500 employed staff and a turnover of less than €100m or a balance sheet total less than €86m can claim SME R&D tax relief. Firms can deduct 130% of all qualifying costs derived from their project from annual profits, as well as normal 100% deductions. Loss-making R&D projects can also be claimed for, up to 14.5% of any surrenderable loss.

R&D relief for large companies (RDEC)

Printing firms with over 500 employed staff, and a turnover of more than €100m, or a balance sheet total more than €86m, can pursue Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC), equating to 11% tax credits on all qualifying costs derived from a project. Large printing companies subcontracted to carry out an R&D project are also eligible for RDEC.