District 1 County Council member Courtney Watson, who is running to succeed Ulman as county executive in 2014, wore an orange plastic bracelet printed for her at the MCE incubator to the event.

She called 3D printers a "game-changer.

"They're a key to really helping economic development in the county," she said.

State Sen. Allan Kittleman, the Republican candidate for county executive, also attended the event. He lauded the initiative as a way to make Howard County more competitive economically.

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Kittleman said he planned to push a bill to align Maryland tax laws on accelerated depreciation with federal laws, which would allow businesses to pay lower taxes on an asset in its early years. Kittleman said the early deductions, which would decrease over time, would make it easier for businesses to invest in more expensive technology like 3D printers.

"We really need to encourage these businesses to expand," he said.

Davidson credited additive manufacturing with much of his business' success. When he founded the company in 2006, he had four employees. Now, he has 52.

"I can honestly say [3D printing] has helped our business grow," he said.

As he toured UAV Solutions' headquarters, District 13 State Sen. Jim Robey remembered his first job working for a traditional manufacturer.

Looking at the machines, he shook his head. "It's like I'm a dinosaur, and they're the astronauts," he said.