Discover the Concrete 3D Printed Coral Reef Project That Could Save Marine Life! | Sculpteo Blog

Discover the Concrete 3D Printed Coral Reef Project That Could Save Marine Life!

Posted By Jessica Van Zeijderveld on Apr 6, 2018 | 0 comments

We already saw how additive manufacturing is a solution to low running fossil fuels and to enhance the production of green and sustainable energy. This week has proven yet again that 3D printing is the solution for many environmental problems that are currently ongoing. For example, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is being affected by environmental changes such as the reef becoming smaller due to damage to the reef ecosystems. This ceasing of the existence of coral reef is currently ongoing for coral reef in the rest of the world as well.


Luckily, the concrete 3D printing service XtreeE took up the task of finding a solution to this issue with the help of additive manufacturing. Find out why and how environmental issues can be (partially) solved or improved with 3D printing by reading this blog post. First, we will talk about the specificities of this project and why 3D printing is being used for it. After that, we will show you why and how other environmentally aware 3D projects use additive manufacturing. Last but not least, we will inform you on the development of additive manufacturing for the future. You shouldn’t be surprised to find out that 3D printing will have a positive impact on many different aspects of society and nature.


XtreeE’s coral reef project

As we said before, coral reefs are ceasing to exist worldwide due to negative environmental changes. No one wants to be part of a society that keeps destroying parts of nature that are of vital importance to our existence as a society altogether. XtreeE wants to rebuild issues that we are currently facing with concrete 3D printing.


What is concrete 3D printing and what are the benefits of it?

In one of our previous blog posts, we talked about the possibility of being able to 3D print with concrete material. 3D concrete printing could enhance the production of sturdy structures and improve the construction industry. This large-scale form of 3D printing can, for example, avoid waste of concrete material and build concrete structures way faster than manual labour. Perhaps you would like to know why XtreeE focuses on concrete 3D printing only and how concrete 3D printing is changing the construction industry? By chance we held an interview with Philippe Morel, XtreeE president, some time back. You can find the whole interview in our blogpost here.


The project

XtreeE works together with Seaboost (marine life restoration company), combining both companies skills in order to restore reef ecosystems and to create the first 3D printed artificial reef to be placed in Calanques National Park in France. The 3D concrete printing technology that was developed by XtreeE has fully recreated a complex design of porous structures that are able to mimic the same aspects of actual coral. A 3D scanner will make a 3D scan of existing coral reefs found in marine life in order to mimic the reef design. Coral reefs take several hundred years to form and shelter hundreds of underwater species. So, it is important to have similar structures underwater in order to preserve the flora and fauna. By also making use of concrete material, these 3D printed reefs will stay intact for years to come.


Concrete 3D printed coral reef


Another reason why 3D printers are being used to create these artificial reefs is due to the fact that real coral reefs have complex features that are shaped this way in order to house flora and fauna. These complex features such as the reef design, need to be implemented in order to have functional artificial coral reef. This complex reef design can only be achieved with 3D printing and by implementing the design in the 3D model. Other manufacturing methods would never be able to achieve the same result.

What materials are used in order to mimic coral reefs?

Although we are unable to confirm with official sources, it is likely that the material that XtreeE uses is a mix of concrete, sand and seawater. They 3D print the structure layer per layer with this material. What’s more interesting is the fact that the sand and seawater are sourced directly from the place where the structure is going to be placed. If XtreeE would only use concrete materials when printing the structure, flora and fauna wouldn’t be attracted to the object and thus wouldn’t use it as a host.


According to David Rejeski, director of the Science & Technology Innovation Program, companies that wish to replicate nature in any way, will make use of 3D printers for these kinds of projects due to 3D printing being able to handle the complexity of a project. XtreeE’s 3D concrete printing is thus a solution for other coral reef restoration projects.


Other environmentally aware projects that make use of 3D printing

3D printing is not only used to recreate certain physical aspects of nature, it is also used to enhance nature itself. For example, 3D printing is being used in the energy industry, but why? Well, 3D printing improves the quality of products used to produce energy and it also reduces the costs of production, resulting in renewable energy being more affordable. For example, solar panels require solar cells but these solar cells are specific devices due to them needing to convert light into electricity and thus are manufactured with expensive materials. 3D printing allows for cheaper manufacturing of these devices with cheaper materials, not only saving time but also money! Not only 3D printing but also 3D modeling is used in the energy industry to get a better visualization of a project or issue and to create new simulations. Would you like to have some examples? Click this link to read more about 3D printed energy projects.


Additive Manufacturing for the future

As we said before, society would fall apart if we don’t help to improve certain aspects of nature. It is possible to obtain cleaner and cheaper forms of energy with 3D printing. When looking at the future of 3D printing materials, we can expect that unusual and innovative materials will pop up just like the natural elements such as sand, that was used for this project. More importantly, 3D printing allows for the creation of complex designs that are found in nature. These designs need to be implemented in order for the project to work. The complexity can only be mimicked with 3D modeling and 3D printing, not with regular manufacturing methods. We can expect that more companies will realize that for complex projects, 3D printing is the solution and that 3D printing will be able to handle even more complex designs in the future.


Concrete 3D printed coral reef


Use 3D printing for your own cause today!

Isn’t it amazing that we’re able to 3D print with elements found in nature such as these concrete 3D printed coral reef? Or how 3D printed structures can improve certain aspects and processes found in the wild like marine life and coral structures? When looking at the positive effects of these 3D printed projects, it greatly improves the community that lives there. Maybe you have a project of your own that involves being able to influence natural elements such as the 3D printed coral structures by XtreeE. Upload your project here at 3D printing service Sculpteo and see how you can create great things with additive manufacturing.

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