Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Coral Restoration through 3D Printing and Fabrication

by Hamad I. Albalawi, Zainab N. Khan, Alexander U. Valle-Pérez, Kowther M. Kahin, Maria Hountondji, Hibatallah Alwazani, Sebastian Schmidt-Roach, Panayiotis Bilalis, Manuel Aranda, Carlos M. Duarte, Charlotte A.E. Hauser
Journal Year: 2021 DOI:


Coral reef degradation is a rising problem, driven by marine heatwaves, the spread of coral diseases, and human impact by overfishing and pollution. Our capacity to restore coral reefs lags behind in terms of scale, effectiveness, and cost-efficiency. While common restoration efforts rely on the formation of carbonate skeletons on structural frames for supported coral growth, this technique is a rate-limiting step in the growth of scleractinian corals. Reverse engineering and additive manufacturing technologies offer an innovative shift in approach from the use of concrete blocks and metal frames to sophisticated efforts that use scanned geometries of harvested corals to fabricate artificial coral skeletons for installation in coral gardens and reefs. Herein, we present an eco-friendly and sustainable approach for coral fabrication by merging three-dimensional (3D) scanning, 3D printing, and molding techniques. Our method, 3D CoraPrint, exploits the 3D printing technology to fabricate artificial natural-based coral skeletons, expediting the growth rate of live coral fragments and quickening the reef transplantation process while minimizing nursery costs. It allows for flexibility, customization, and fast return time with an enhanced level of accuracy, thus establishing an environmentally friendly, scalable model for coral fabrication to boost restorative efforts around the globe.


coral restoration 3D printing eco-friendly process coral microfragmentation limestone 3D printing additive manufacturing photosensitive resin