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In the USA, calcium carbonate coral reefs are 3D printed. They must help restore the ecosystem

The prototypes set up in San Francisco already have life.

Coral Carbonate is a research project developed by the American design studio Objects and Ideograms. With its help, they want to facilitate the restoration of coral reefs – one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on Earth.

As part of the project, artificial coral reefs are being printed on a 3D printer. They are used to create resilient underwater “homes” in which coral polyps and marine life can grow, Dezeen writes .

Coral carbonate

Printed objects are cylindrical with a porous surface. They are modeled after the natural coral skeletons that form the backbone of all reefs.

The Coral Carbonate project began work three years ago, when its future leader, Alex Schofield, learned that coral reefs around the world are rapidly collapsing due to human activity and climate change. When he wondered how he could quickly increase the number of reefs, he found that solutions now available were often made from unstable, man-made materials. Therefore, the studio decided to use calcium carbonate in its development. It is widely distributed throughout the world, usually obtained from limestone, marble and chalk.

Coral carbonate

This approach is a sustainable alternative to man-made materials commonly used to restore corals, such as old subway cars. The first prototypes of Coral Carbonate have recently been installed in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now they are under close supervision, they have already celebrated the emergence of life.

The prototype consists of several cylindrical objects tied together with a rope folded. This is for flexibility and simulates the build-up of biological matter on underwater objects such as boats. The objects do not seek to resemble natural coral skeletons, they are designed to provide as much surface as possible for the life of the polyps.

Coral carbonate

According to Schofield, the only issue holding back production is the number of 3D printers available. The project team is currently investigating how the models and shapes of these objects can be modified for other “clients”, such as fish seeking refuge from predators.

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