The world’s largest and the Maldives first 3D-printed reef was installed by a resort at the weekend, with the technology being used to help protect coral reefs.
The artificial reef, assembled with hundreds of ceramic and concrete modules, was submerged in seven metres of water in a part of the lagoon where Summer Island Maldives is building a new coral reef ecosystem.
Coral reefs are under threat from climate change. In 2016 a particularly strong El Nino weather event, which caused sea temperatures to spike, devastated coral reefs across large parts of the Maldives. Climate change makes these coral ‘bleaching’ events increasingly likely and severe.
The project started in Australia, where industrial designer Alex Goad of Reef Design Lab used computing modelling to design reef structures similar to those found naturally in the Maldives.
A 3D printer took 24 hours to print moulds which were then cast in ceramic, an inert substance similar to limestone rock, and shipped to the Maldives. They were filled with marine concrete on the resort’s beach before being taken into the lagoon and assembled.