Volvo and Reef Design Lab develop 3D printed ocean reef!

Volvo’s 3D Printed Living Sea Wall – By Daniel Lawrence


This year for World Environment Day, Swedish car maker, Volvo, have teamed up with eco institutions whiteGREY, the Sydney institute of Maritime Sciences and Australian eco-engineering studio, Reef Design Lab, to create a 3D printed ocean reef.

Each year the United Nations’ host World Environment Day, an initiative calling for innovative products that address current, relevant environmental issues. This year’s theme was beating plastic pollution in our oceans.


The team of inventors, designers, engineers and environmental scientists got together to develop a product that allows the permanent storage of plastic whilst boosting levels micro-sea life.

The Living Seawall is the resulting product, a collaboration of 3D printing technologies and advanced eco-engineering. The wall is designed as a man-made habitat for small aquatic life like mollusks, mangroves dwelling creatures and coral polyps. It provides a safe, secure, and familiar environment that can replace damaged/removed natural reefs on foreshores around the developed world.


Reef Design Lab designed the Seawall to mimic the naturally occurring crevices found in mangrove swamps and advanced coral reefs. This design allows beneficial aquatic life to ‘move in’ to newly formed spaces and proliferate throughout the environment.


The Seawall is made up of a number of hexagonal tiles. These tiles are printed using a biodegradable plastic fiber which is then fully encapsulated in a custom-developed marine concrete. This design keeps the plastic contained within a permanent structure whilst providing a home for millions of beneficial marine organisms.


Daniel Lawrence