Several 3D reefs have already been implanted underwater to save the marine fauna and flora. Indeed, 3D printing opens the field of possibilities, especially at the ecological field. Let’s see why and how these innovative reef projects came about?
Why 3D print reefs?
Global warming and human activity have a very negative impact on the marine ecosystem: the increase in water temperature and acidity is causing the progressive death of 60% of the world’s corals.
Coral reefs are beneficial for many reasons:
- They are home to 25% of the world’s marine life
- They protect the coast from erosion
- They participate in fishing and tourism activities
Printing reefs in 3D could therefore protect part of the marine fauna and flora from global warming.
How to create and implant the reefs?
Several kinds of 3D printed reefs exist.
The first one consists in using the concrete 3D printing technique developed by XtreeE in order to recreate a porous and complex structure in the shape of a mille-feuille in which the marine fauna and flora can develop.
The second is made by interlocking hundreds of blocks underwater to form a structure mimicking that of coral reefs. Each block is 3D printed, molded in ceramic (a material similar to the calcium carbonate found in coral reefs) and then filled with marine reinforced concrete. A printer achieved the feat of printing 220 molds in only 24 hours.
3D reefs are a very good initiative and a short-term solution to the problem of marine ecosystem extinction, but nothing will replace natural coral reefs.