Reefs ‘R Us. You Can Save Coral Reefs with Unique 3D Printer

Coastruction wants to save coral reefs worldwide using water, sand, cement and a unique 3D printer. Now everyone can make an important contribution to this.

Today, the Dutch start-up has started a crowdfunding campaign for building the 3D printer, after successfully completing the first test phase. 

“Coral reefs have been an essential chain in all the world’s oceans for centuries but are currently under severe pressure.

This is among others due to climate change, pollution, unsustainable fishing methods and coastal development,” says marine biologist Astrid Kramer.

Together with 3D print expert Nadia Fani she is the founder of Coastruction. The decline of coral reefs not only has major impacts on people, flora and fauna, but also affects economic resources.

Low-lying coastal communities on the islands of for example the Maldives, the Caribbean and the Pacific strongly depend on the protection and food resources these reefs provide.

More effective solution

Numerous organizations and scientists are working very hard to protect and rebuild reefs worldwide. That goes with fits and starts.

“We have succeeded in developing a new tool in reef restoration, a more effective solution to host corals,” says Fani.

Coastruction has innovated the powder bed 3D printing technology, allowing the company to create unique and complex reef structures that corals like to settle on.
“Unlike many existing artificial reef solutions, we only use three natural materials: water, sand and cement. As a result, we can always use local raw materials, such as the sand from the nearest beach or recycled concrete.
And we do not produce waste. In fact, the process allows storing CO2 in the structure forever.”

Coastruction’s mobile 3D printer offers more advantages. The technology makes it possible to work directly on-site, limiting the environmental impacts caused by transport emissions but enhancing inclusiveness through involvement of the local community.
The freedom of form is also maximized, which makes it possible to create habitat for several key reef species in one single design.

Crowdfunding campaign

Coastruction has successfully printed small structures with prototype printer Idefix over the last two years. The company now wants to build the next level mobile printer, called Asterix which can make reef structures up to 1 cubic meter at a time.

“We only have one problem,” says Fani. “To build Asterix we need money, but to make money we need a printer. A common problem for starting entrepreneurs.”

That is why Coastruction started a crowdfunding campaign today. The goal is to raise €300.000 euros. With that money, the start-up can build 3D printer Asterix (€175.000 euros), test the printed reef structures for strength and stability in a wave flume (€25.000 euros), restore 50 square meters of coral reef (€75.000 euros) at a pilot location with a local partner and have them monitor the colonization of corals and reef organisms on the structures for two years (€25.000 euros).

“We hope that people realize that they can really make a difference by making a contribution,” says Fani and Kramer. “We will be eternally grateful for everyone who helps us save the coral reefs.”

Donations can be made as of today via:

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