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Artificial Reef

An artificial reef structure that mimic natural occurring reefs’ function

Project details

  • Our jobCybe co-designed and co-fabricated the following 3D printed elements with SEABOOST: Walls, Arches, Front door
  • TypeCyBe RC (Robot Crawler), off-site
  • Parcel size336 sqm
  • Printing timeUnder 30 hours
  • Start of projectNovember 2021

The 3D printed parts used to create artificial reefs in collaboration with Seaboost mimic the role of natural biogenic structures which support coralliferous organism and many other attached marine organisms. In addition, artificial reefs provide reproduction, nursery, shelter, and larder functions for many mobile marine species at different life stages. Artificial reefs can be used to recreate the most essential functionalities of marine ecosystems as complex as coral reefs in all areas of the world with an adapted ecological and technical design associated with innovative construction methods such as large-scale 3D printing.

Making the structure fit for the ocean

The challenge

Seaboost contacted us to produce a part of the 3D elements that would be used for the construction of an extraordinarily large artificial reef structure in France. Consisting of 26 different elements, the print was calculated to weigh over 20,000 kilograms. The challenging part of this print was the fact that it would be used as an artificial reef, so it needed to provide a habitat for marine life designed by SEABOOST. In order to provide the right environment for ocean flora and fauna, the structure would need to have a complicated structure, including holes and cavities. On top of that, Seaboost only wanted us to print the walls, door, and arches of the structures, only to assemble them later. The elements would be used as support for the reinforced concrete structure poured in some of the 3D elements. This finishing, though known to us in general terms, could still be prone to change. Therefore, we had to create 3D elements that would guarantee a minimum inner resistance in order for the structural design of the artificial reef to be fit for the strict marine environmental conditions.

Complex shapes and designs

The design

We had to print a number of constructions designed by SEABOOST that mimicked coral reefs in terms of cavities and inconsistencies while still having the structural integrity to support lifting and handling for deployment at sea under a strict hydrodynamic. This complex structure is a hybrid structure made of 3D walls, doors, and arches combined with a structural gantry made of reinforced poured concrete. The use of parametric design helped us in determined the printability of the design, and create different complex shapes. It also helped us in adapting the 3D part of the reef with SEABOOST to fit the specific needs of the marine environment it would be placed in. The definitive design had the dimensions of 8x6x7 meters, with these measurements being length, width, and height, respectively.

3DCP perfect for artificial reef construction

The takeaways

3D concrete printing proved to be an excellent method for the artificial reef construction of this hybrid structure (3D and reinforced concrete). On top of the software offering benefits to the design of the reef, it helped us draw and design via a common 3D file that could be read and modified by the different involved companies as well. Additionally, the concrete material had certain advantages. The rough texture of the concrete provides a good substrate for coral larvae to attach to and grow on. It was an interesting discovery that our 3D concrete printing, besides its usual merits, could have some bonus perks when it comes to artificial reef construction. Seaboost also observed these benefits, and having derived satisfaction from our collaboration, they made sure this cooperation between CyBe and Seaboost wasn’t the only one. Many times we have produced 3D printed parts for artificial reef construction for Seaboost, including some small orders, an order for 26 tall reefs, one for 40 wavy reef elements, and one for 78 small reefs. Like the large one from this case, all these structures were printed in our production facility and later transported to the location where they have been assembled and then deployed at sea.


Contract holder and institutional partners:

Renaud Dupuy De La Grand Rive – Aires marines protégées du cap d’Agde
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