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Coral Reefs To Be Restored Using 3D Printed Tiles Designed By Hong Kong Marine Scientists

Coral reefs will be restored using 3D printed artificial 'reef tiles' created by a University of Hong Kong research team of marine scientists and architects.

| Written By
Janvi Manchanda
Coral reefs to be restored using 3D printed tiles designed by Hong Kong marine scientists

Coral reefs will now be restored using 3D printed artificial 'reef tiles' created and designed by a research team from the University of Hong Kong which consists of marine scientists and architects. These terracotta 'reef tiles' will be used as an attachment by corals reefs to increase their chances of survival in the coastal waters in the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Marine Park is home to over 120 fish species and over 60 species of coral reefs. 

3D Printed 'reef tiles' for coral reefs conservation

According to the press release from the University of Hong Kong, the marine scientists will use 128 pieces of hexagonal 3D printed reef tiles and place them in three different sites in the Hong Kong Marine Park where coral reefs have been destroyed. These 3D printed tiles will cover about 40 square meters area and will aid the coral reefs in rebuilding by preventing sedimentation and by giving it a structurally complex foundation for attachment. This means that the little fragments of coral reefs that have been dislodged will have a foundation that will help them survive and thrive which they wouldn't be able to do on their own. 

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The 3D printed reef tiles created by the Hong Kong marine scientist and architects have the seeds of coral fragments and will be used for restoring 3 species of coral reefs namely Acropora, Platygyra, and Pavona. These reef tiles, made from generic terracotta clay, have a 600mm diameter and were printed with the help of a robotic 3D clay printing method. The 3D printed reef tiles have been created especially for Hong Kong waters.

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The marine scientists made this move because in 2018 the coral reefs suffered mass destruction as per reports. During a super-typhoon, nearly 80 per cent of the coral reefs in the Hoi Ha Wan bay of Hong Kong were disintegrated. According to the reports, the experts say that the pieces of disintegrated coral reefs will take decades to regenerate naturally because they cannot survive on their own. As per the marine scientists from the University of Hong Kong, the fragments of coral reefs can be damaged by the sand and they find it difficult to attach to the seafloor on their own. This is why they need extra support which the 3D printed reef tiles will provide. 

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