3D-printed artificial reefs to restore coral ecosystems

    © Artificial reefs
© Artificial reefs

Unlike many companies in the 3D printing industry like XtreeE, they work both under and above water; For example, they create artificial reefs and underwater installations from 3D printed concrete.

    © 3D-printed Coral Reef, Monaco
© 3D-printed Coral Reef, Monaco

XtreeE is a start-up that was established at the end of 2015 and has been a pioneer in the large-scale manufacture of additives in concrete. The idea was inspired by “Democrite”, a university project involving the manufacture of additives on a large scale.

    © ABB Robotics
© ABB Robotics

ABB RoboticsAnd LafargeHolcim and Dassault Systems are XtreeE Partners, who accompany them at 3DExperienceLab and provide them with unique access to their software tools. Their team consists of a variety of interests and skills, including architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, materials science, management, and more.

Krypton, Column in Aix-en-Provence © Photos: Lisa Ricciotti
Krypton, Column in Aix-en-Provence © Photos: Lisa Ricciotti

extra It cooperates with well-known companies such as Eurovia, Point P Travaux Publics, Saint-Gobain (for consultation), Zaha Hadid Architects. Also, XtreeE was the first in Europe to build a structural stent using 3D printing in a public space.

Learn more about What is 3D printing of concrete?

    © X-Reef, in Calanques National Park
© X-Reef, in Calanques National Park

In their projects, XtreeE builds waste molds mostly with concrete (used in 90% of cases), but sometimes also with clay: they pour concrete into the mould, and then dissolve it with water. The closest analog to XtreeE’s 3D technology will be fused deposition modeling (FDM), in which the material flows through a printing nozzle in liquid form before solidifying.

5 reefs in Monaco

This reef system is designed to attract a specific animal species: the grouper. When creating the Posidonia type of seaweed, its presence was necessary to ensure ecological balance. The parametric design produced shapes consistent with the habitability of the reef.

extra
© 5 Reefs in Monaco

X-Reef, in Calanques National Park

Seaboost and XtreeE designed, manufactured and immersed this new generation of corals using their unique expertise in environmental engineering and large-scale 3D printing. In a global environment of marine environmental degradation, 3D concrete printing offers endless possibilities for future environmental restoration initiatives ranging from the seas of the Mediterranean to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

extra
X-Reef, in Calanques National Park

The cavities’ sizes, shapes and textures were tuned in partnership with biologists to enhance the breeding and populations of target species under the sea. This prototype was submerged in the Kalanc Natural Park in France in 2017.

extra
X-Reef, in Calanques National Park © Photo: AFP / Boris Horvat

Artificial reefs for Prince Albert II

In honor of oceanographer I Albert Falco, a traveling companion of Commander Cousteau, Prince Albert II of Monaco urged his friend Pierre Frolla, four-time world record-diving champion and staunch biodiversity champion in Monaco, to consider immersion in an artificial reef.

extra
Artificial reefs of Prince Albert II © Photo: Greg Licor

XtreeE has teamed up with SETEC marine engineers to create a reef suitable for local marine fauna based on sketches and hand drawings by Pierre Frolla.

32 Vivid tradition coral in Cap d’Agde

The goal of these reefs is to enhance underwater biodiversity by building long-lasting structures with a high degree of diversity. This time, it was anchor bodies, mainly concrete filled frames, that were meant to combine habitat and anchorage purpose. Each cavity has its own size and characteristics, and is specifically designed for each family of plant or animal species.

extra
32 biomimic reefs in Cap d’Agd e © Photo: Renaud Dupuy de la Grandrive

This project takes full advantage of the printing technology’s ability to support very high engineering complexity at an affordable cost. Furthermore, concrete with a chemically resistant texture is an excellent material for this type of application.

Leave a Comment