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World’s Largest 3D-Printed Reef Goes Up In Maldives To Save Its Biodiversity
By Yoon Sann Wong, 20 Aug 2018
3D printing, which has already made its foray into electric cars and architecture including affordable tiny homes, has ventured into biodiversity by way of the world’s largest 3D-printed coral reef.
On 11 August, this artificial system was submerged at the Summer Island Maldives to help coral reefs in the area survive, and hopefully thrive, in the warming climate.
Using computer modeling, industrial designer Alex Goad of Reef Design Lab created faux reef structures resembling those found naturally in the Maldives, at a lab in Melbourne, Australia.
These molds were produced by a large 3D-printer in 24 hours and subsequently cast in ceramic—a substance similar to calcium carbonate found in natural coral reefs.
The 220 ceramic molds were filled with cement on the beach at Summer Island before being fit together like a LEGO set to create the giant pseudo reef.
It now sits beneath seven meters of water, in a sandy part of Summer Island’s ‘Blue Lagoon’ that is close to the resort’s coral nursery. Fragments of corals are transported from the nursery to the new reef, where the corals will hopefully grow and eventually colonize the 3D-printed structure.
“3-D printing technology helps us to develop more innovative ways of protecting coral reefs. The technology allows us to mimic the complexity of natural reef structures, so we can design artificial reefs that closely resemble those found in nature. We hope this will be a more effective way of growing and restoring corals,” explained Goad.
If the 3D-printed reef proves successful and more effective than existing coral propagation techniques, this method could be taken up to help more coral reefs survive the increasingly warm climate.
“Projects like the 3-D printed reef are popular among guests, who like that we protect our environment. And it’s not only for the guests. Our staff, most of whom are Maldivian, want to protect their environment. Ultimately, we want to help promote a culture of environmental stewardship, not just at Summer Island, but across the Maldives,” said Summer Island Resort’s manager Mari Shareef.
[via PR Newswire, video via Summer Island Maldives, main image via PR Newswire]
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