Time To Switch To 3D Printing For Touchless Bathroom Design

[Source:  Pxfuel ]

[Source: Pxfuel ]

Charles R. Goulding looks into the use of 3D printing to make public bathroom spaces “touchless.”

In this writer’s opinion, the world is no longer going to accept any hand-touch functions in commercial bathrooms. We have all seen examples of  touchless fixtures and devices for every function in a bathroom, including:

  • Faucets

  • Soap Dispensers

  • Toilets

  • Hand Dryers

  • Stall entrances

For bathroom entrances and exits, swing doors eliminate the need for doorknobs. Bathrooms that need to be locked for security purposes can be unlocked by voice-command codes. For new buildings and substantial renovations, building codes can be revised to require that all commercial building bathrooms have touchless equipment. Multi-occupant bathrooms need to have enough space to enable some minimum level of social distancing.

3D printing can be used to design and produce a wide variety of new bathroom touchless fixtures and innovative hardware that eliminates the need to “switch on” or touch for intended functionalities.

Kohler Corporation , bath and kitchen plumbing equipment powerhouse, is already at the forefront of innovation in this area, producing functional products with voice-enabled, smart home capabilities and 3D printing.

Existing buildings that don’t plan on integrating these germ and virus reducing upgrades should be avoided by health-conscious customers. R&D  tax credits may be available for companies designing, testing and producing touchless bathroom equipment and subcomponents using 3D printing techniques.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • Must be technological in nature

  • Must be a component of the taxpayer’s business

  • Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process

  • Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives

Eligible costs include US employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, US contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit has been used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax for companies with revenue below $50MM, and startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in cash rebates applied directly toward payroll taxes.


Public bathrooms are high-traffic environments that would benefit from the use of advanced technologies like 3D printing to help make them more minimal-contact spaces.