Above photos courtesy of WWF Netherlands 




Large Scale 3D Printed Reefs for the North Sea

RDL worked with the WWF Netherlands to design a range of reef units that were placed on the seabed of the North Sea as part of their larger oyster reef restoration project. The units were 3D printed in Rotterdam using D-Shape technology. 50 units were manufactured in sizes ranging from 50cm high to 120cm high and will be monitored over the coming years. This will be one of the largest research based projects assessing the effectiveness of the material and technology. 

WWF T-shirt concept2 Graphic.jpg




This technology with its unique low carbon footprint sandstone material opens up endless possibilities for marine habitat construction and satisfies our goal to build beautiful reefs.

The key advantages of this 3D printing technology are:

  • We can achieve a very 'organic' appearance, and produce far greater complexity, caves and tunnels compared to traditional moulding techniques - this can translate to greater biodiversity and biomass. Excellent for rebuilding destroyed reefs or creating new ones. Such designs show far greater respect for our marine environment than cubes, pyramids etc.
  • Every unit made can have different features than the others without the need for different moulds, therefore increasing the diversity of habitat and richness of species on the reef.
  • The material does not produce the greenhouse gas emissions that concrete does in its manufacture and transport.
  • We believe this technology can play an important role in climate change adaption of low lying islands by cost effectively rebuilding their barrier reefs and thus reducing coastal erosion. Our goal is to partner with appropriate companies and funders to provide a mobile 3D printing barge that can travel from island to island, use local sand, and produce reef units that are deployed to rebuild the islands natural defence against sea level rise. Added bonus would be increased fishery production and snorkeling or diving reef.