AMS Spring 2023

Belgian Artist Nick Ervinck Teams Up with Materialise Again to Bring 3D Printed Sculpture Life


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Belgium-based 3D printing powerhouse Materialise has used its innovative 3D printing technology in a large number of applications in many fields, which are growing all the time. The company has seen its technologies employed in the medical field, such as partnering with Henry Ford Health System this year to advance the 3D software used in cardiac procedures. Its 3D printed titanium maxillofacial implants were approved for use in the US, right before it announced a partnership with Structo to simplify 3D print file preparation for dental professionals. Materialise technology has also been used to design and print parts for race cars, as well as eyeglasses, and the company launched a digital supply chain for custom 3D printed ski boots.

Materialise has also used its technology for a very different type of project, in the artistic realm. The company teamed up with award-winning Belgian artist Nick Ervinck, whose 3D printed artwork we always enjoy, to print out the individual parts for his gorgeous and colorful sculpture, called NESURAK, which is currently on display as part of his GNI-RI exhibition at the AXIOM Art & Science Gallery Lab in Tokyo, Japan.

I love 3D printed art in all of its many forms – even if not everyone is entirely sure if it is art at all. Ervinck began partnering with the 3D printing experts at Materialise to bring his artistic visions to life nearly a decade ago, and even published a book of his 3D printed pieces, many of which were sculptures 3D printed by Materialise; he’s also worked with Stratasys and its full color, multi-material J750 3D Printer in the past to create beautiful sculptures.

Ervinck has a talent for, and a deep love of, mixing the traditional with the digital. He likes to explore the boundaries between various kinds of media, and according to his website, enjoys exploring the “aesthetic potential of sculpture, 3D prints installation, architecture and design.”

The cyborg-like NESURAK reminds me a little of his 3D printed LAPIRSUB statue, which was displayed at the De Warande Gallery in Belgium last year and this September and October at the AXIOM Art & Science Gallery.

According to Ervinck’s website description of the NESURAK sculpture, “By combining fragmentary elements from the past with a futuristic imagery, a fascinating cyborg-sculpture came into being.

“With its majestic posture, impressive armour and piercing gaze, NESURAK towers over the visitor as a heroic god statue from the future. The surreal image entails a certain mythical power by referring to knights, science fiction and manga figures.”

For his latest piece, the artist was inspired by science fiction creatures like aliens, monsters, and robots, created by artists like H.R. Giger, as well as the evolution in the clothing that people wear. However, the geometry of the 3D printed NESURAK sculpture also calls to mind intricate masks from the Mayan and Inca cultures.

Once he has the concept visualized, Ervinck uses 3D CAD programs to design the sculpture itself, though the design process is manually completed by hand, without the use of algorithms to generate the sculpture on the screen. Then, once he he finalizes the design, Ervinck sends it to Materialise for 3D printing.

In a Materialise blog post, Stephanie Benoit wrote, “We printed out the individual parts making up the sculpture – amounting to more than 200 pieces in total – with our Laser Sintering machines. The parts were then sent to Nick’s studio, where he performed the finishing touches. The pieces were smoothed, painted and lacquered, and finally assembled.”

The final 3D printed sculpture measures 104 x 49 x 54 cm, and, according to Benoit, “opposes futuristic, glossy external armor with the mutated, thorny skin of the cyborg underneath.”

Going back to Ervinck’s clothing inspiration,  while the first humans on the planet wore furs, we currently use threads to make our clothing. The NESURAK sculpture serves as a unique reminder that clothes have the potential to continue evolving, with the help of 3D printing technology, so that one day we may even be able to don skins that have multiple functions, such as keeping you cool while you exercise, allowing you to alter an outfit with multipurpose pieces, and even protecting you against an impact.

Ervinck presented both his 3D printed NESURAK and LAPIRSUB sculptures at the AXIOM Art & Science Gallery at its request. Following the Japanese feature, he will be taking his GNI-RI exhibition to the Black Wall in Brussels, which is courtesy of Sabam, the Belgian Association of Authors, Composers and Publishers.

What do you think of this 3D printed sculpture? Let us know your thoughts on this and other 3D printing topics at or share in the Facebook comments below.

[Images: Nick Ervinck]


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