Emerging 3D technologies for future reformation of coral reefs: Enhancing biodiversity using biomimetic structures based on designs by nature

Natalie Levy, Ofer Berman, Matan Yuval, Yossi Loya, Tali Treibitz, Ezri Tarazi, Oren Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Debate


The rapid decline of vulnerable coral reefs has increased the necessity of exploring interdisciplinary methods for reef restoration. Examining how to upgrade these tools may uncover options to better support or increase biodiversity of coral reefs. As many of the issues facing reef restoration today deal with the scalability and effectiveness of restoration efforts, there is an urgency to invest in technology that can help reach ecosystem-scale. Here, we provide an overview on the evolution to current state of artificial reefs as a reef reformation tool and discuss a blueprint with which to guide the next generation of biomimetic artificial habitats for ecosystem support. Currently, existing artificial structures have difficulty replicating the 3D complexity of coral habitats and scaling them to larger areas can be problematic in terms of production and design. We introduce a novel customizable 3D interface for producing scalable, biomimetic artificial structures, utilizing real data collected from coral ecosystems. This interface employs 3D technologies, 3D imaging and 3D printing, to extract core reef characteristics, which can be translated and digitized into a 3D printed artificial reef. The advantages of 3D printing lie in providing customized tools by which to integrate the vital details of natural reefs, such as rugosity and complexity, into a sustainable manufacturing process. This methodology can offer economic solutions for developing both small and large-scale biomimetic structures for a variety of restoration situations, that closely resemble the coral reefs they intend to support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154749
Pages (from-to)154749
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
N.L. was supported by the IUI Doctoral Fellowship , the Bar-Ilan University President's Scholarship, the Murray Foundation for student research, and the Israeli Ministry of Integration and Aliyah Scholarship . O.B. was supported by the Technion Zeff Daniel and Fine Fund. M.Y. was supported by the University of Haifa Data Science Research Centre, the Murray Foundation for student research, and Microsoft AI for Earth , AI for Coral Reef Mapping. Y.L. was supported in part by the Israel Science Foundation Grant (No. 1191/16 ). T.T. was supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust , The Maurice Hatter Foundation , the Israel Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Grant ( 218-17-008 ), the Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space Grant ( 3-12487 ), and the Technion Ollendorff Minerva Center for Vision and Image Sciences. E.T. was supported by the Technion Polack Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • 3D images
  • 3D printing
  • Artificial reefs
  • Environmental DNA
  • Marine ecosystems
  • Restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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