3D coral

(TruthSeekerDaily) The technology behind 3D printing can be used for more than just making tiny plastic objects. Scientists are applying the concept to everything from printing tools from moon rock to now creating artificial reefs.

Coral reefs around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. Pollution, overfishing, coastal development and global warming are all culprits. In the waters near China, 80 percent of the coral reefs have died over the last 30 years and, according to a 2012 study from the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) and the University of Wollongong, 50 percent of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral has disappeared over roughly the same time-frame.

Reef Arabia, a team of artificial reef designers that includes reef experts from Bahrain as well as members from Australia’s Sustainable Oceans International, has started 3D printing reef formations and sinking them off Bahrain’s coast, where overfishing has had a major impact on the health of marine life there.3D coral 2

The group has submerged almost 3,000 concrete reef balls (seen above) and other custom-designed structures in the area, but up until recently they were using concrete molds to accomplish the task. Looking for a better, faster way, the team partnered with 3D printing and rapid prototyping specialists from DShape to start printing reef formations using a non-toxic patented sandstone material.

“Sandstone, unlike concrete, is closer to a natural earth rock and has a neutral pH surface which makes it more attractive to coral larvae looking for a home,” says David Lennon, Reef Arabia team member and director at SOI. He added that the “bumpy, knobby bits” on the sandstone units also provide refuge for the common snapper while generating current eddies and multiple horizontal surfaces that attract coral larvae.

The prototype reefs took about a week to design and only a day to print and the reefs can be printed four at a time. Watch the video below to see more about the artificial reef program:

Source: [Forbes][TreeHugger]