Hi-Tech

The 3D Printing Technology Used to Rebuild Coral Reefs

The 3D Printing Technology Used to Rebuild Coral Reefs

Project to rebuild coral reef systems around the world has been developed using a 3D printing model to create artificial coral structures, according to research published by three universities.

Coral reef systems are being continuously degraded worldwide. This expertise, now being applied to the coast of Eilat, will assist in rebuilding the diversity of the underwater ecosystem by introducing these manufactured structures into systems which can be becoming unable to regenerate themselves. Coral reefs are disappearing for many causes, due to reasons both natural and man-made, mainly from waters overheated by climate change, dynamite fishing, and chemicals in sunscreen that reach the reefs. Invasive fish – such as the lionfish, which hunts in coral reefs – also cause them a lot of damage.

Over 30% of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s extensive coral reef system located within the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia, was knocked out by heatwaves occurring in 2016 and 2017, raising water temperatures to uninhabitable ranges for these natural systems.

Scientists have indicated that if the Earth’s average temperature rises another four degrees Fahrenheit, virtually all of the world’s coral reef systems might be lost, that are used as essential nurseries for many species of fish that feed over a billion people a year.

The 3D-printed reefs can imitate natural shapes that appeal to different species of fish, which will use these artificial structures as their nurseries in an attempt to bring the lively population of fish again that when inhabited the coral reefs of Eilat. The 3D printer – developed by researchers on the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Bar-Ilan University – uses polylactic acid, a biodegradable and bio-active bio-plastic made from corn, cassava or sugarcane, to supply these column-like constructions that are then put in into the water. From there, the columns are planted individually with farmed coral to mimic the complexities of coral reef ecosystems.

These efforts will, in idea, deliver essential species of fish again to these areas in an try to utterly reconstruct the barren reefs along the coast of Eilat.

In this particular examine, the scientists are using 3D manipulation and printing to understand further whether man-made constructions can foster a natural ecosystem where species of fish which are essential for these ecosystems can flourish, in addition to the advantages of using advanced design tools such as 3D scanning and manipulation to create artificial corals.