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Assemblage Art, 3D Printing and R&D Tax Credits

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The Noah Bench by Humberto and Fernando Campana

Assemblage is the French word for assembling. Many of today’s artists take a variety of objects and assemble them together to form a masterpiece. Artists and designers can potentially use a 3D printer to produce various objects which could be assembled as well. Businesses who are involved with 3D printing of assemblage artworks may be eligible for R&D Tax Credits.

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.

Artists have found creative ways to recreate fixtures and other pieces of art. Modern day assemblage first began with Pablo Picasso, who would design three-dimensional pieces into works of art. One such example is his piece Still Life 1914 which has wood and inexpensive tablecloth fringing. After Picasso, many other contemporary designers adopted assemblage into their artwork. Humberto and Fernando Capana’s Estudio Campana creates chairs from strips of pine and teak and mixes it with colored cotton ropes and sheepskin pillows. This design may seem eclectic, however, it produces a highly modern piece. One of their exhibits, Hybridism, showcased their unique “Noah Bench.” This bench combines bronze, iron and aluminum and animal figurines to create a unique design piece.

During the 20th Century, one of the well-known assemblage artists was Arman (born Armand Pierre Fernandez), best known for his art that was an accumulation of quite literally “les poubelles” or “trash bins.” Arman was a sculptor during the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) art age and an important figure in European contemporary art. He assembled large amounts of products that focused on objects such as mass produced or manufactured products. Nowadays, his artwork could be created with individual molds and then mass produced by a 3D printer.

One of his famous works is called Long Term Parking, which is 60 cars embedded into cement in over 40,000 pounds of concrete.  The artwork stands in Jouy-en-Josas in the Essonne Region of France, about 32 kilometers from Paris. Today, artists and designers could 3D print these parts and build their own masterpieces. Arman set the stage for today’s contemporary artists.

A graphic designer, pop artist and graduate of The Hague University in Amsterdam, Paco Raphael used 3D printing to develop deer sculptures. Raphael used the sculpting software ZBrush, which initially takes digital images and then transfers these images to a printer. Raphael was able to print life-size deer out of Mammoth Resin using a stereolithography process. Mammoth Resin is a material that when liquid can be inserted into a 3D printer and, once it dries and hardens, leaves a smooth surface and a medium mechanical resistance. More than just focusing on a “canvas on a wall,” Raphael takes the art into 3D space and aligns artwork with industrial production.

For a UK Festival, artist Matthew Plummer Fernandez will exhibit his large-scale 3D printed sculptures. Plummer Fernandez uses digital art to then 3D print his work. The artwork is created by 3D printing startup Fluxaxis. Fernandez uses Shapeways 3D printing technology to create his artwork. He also created software that is based on interactive data called “disarming corruptor.” If you are in London, check out his work which will be on display at the York Mediale Festival 2018.

Historical Based 3D Printed Sculptures

Artist Nick Ervinck uses 3D printing to create sculptures; however, even though he uses the digital blend he designs them entirely by hand. He doesn’t use algorithms but instead bases his artwork off of historical data and ways of life, then 3D prints pieces to be put together to create artwork. He created a piece that seems futuristic, named the NESURAK. The NESURAK represents a god-like figure which is made of over 200 pieces that incorporate past, present, and future in the sculpture. The artwork has a 3D printed glossy exterior armor with thorny skin like a cyborg underneath. Ervinck traveled to Tokyo, Japan to present his NESURAK at the AXIOM Art & Science Gallery at their invitation.

Some of his other artwork includes using fused deposition modeling (FDM). Ervinck printed another small god statue that has ancient Roman Jupiter columns, which were based off of the ancient Roman Empire. The piece, Luizarec, was completed in 2012; Ervinck was inspired by archaeological findings. The artwork appears like a human heart with the arteries scrambling around rounded figures. He combined an ancient soldier and human heart into a glossy yellow 3D printed sculpture.

Shane Hope uses works such as assemblage of continuous patterning and layered textures to create 3D printed “molecular” forms. His works are printed in PLA plastic which is a biodegradable material that is printed on multilayered acrylic panel. Hope uses molecular modeling to research software and crafts that are developed into molecular modeling designs and algorithmically automated alternative representative representations of nano-scaled structures. Hope’s works demonstrate the progress in nanometer-scale science and technology that expands the technology to assemble things from the atom up. Hope’s art is an assemblage of mixed media and abstract painting that is evolutionary. He is compounding digital material using software called PyMOL which is a molecular visualization tool. Hope’s artwork has been compared to Jackson Pollock as his ‘paintings’ appear to be rainbow designs with a rainbow of 3D printed barnacles.

Animal Lace Art

Linlin and Pierre-Yves Jacques are two artists who originate from China and France and share similar artistic ideas. They use 3D printing to create their line of “animal lace art” that has architectural patterns and can be illuminated by compact lighting. These wall art pieces consist of bears, deer, elephant and birds. There is even a giraffe 3D printed wall piece that has a ruff around its neck.


Contemporary assemblage artists worked with various pieces of art to create masterpieces. The advent of additive manufacturing has changed artists’ platforms as they are now able to print sculptures layer by layer on a printer. Artists and designers who work with 3D printing for their assemblage pieces may be eligible for R&D Tax Credits.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

Charles Goulding and Alize Margulis of R&D Tax Savers discuss 3D printing and art. 


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