If You’re Not 3D-Printing, Are You Even Saving the Ocean?

Image from designboom courtesy of Volvo

Volvo Develops 3D-Printed ‘Living Seawall’ to Save the World’s Oceans from Plastic Pollution

Volvo, Swedish automakers of the “Most Mom-est Station Wagon of 2014”, aren’t just a one trick pony, it appears. They’ve also got a hand in marine habitat engineering. <— Not a typo, that’s the gist of Volvo’s collaboration with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and the Reef Design Lab (both of the land-down-under-variety). The idea is to transform man-made, non-living structures like seawalls (which are, ya know, just rocks usually) into living ecosystems of filter-feeding organisms – the ones that clean up the water by chowing down. Let’s be very clear, however: this is not a solution to plastic pollution as the article suggests. Filter-feeders will indeed remove and neutralize certain pollutants and improve water quality (often drastically). But when it comes to plastic, that stuff just sticks around inside them until they’re eaten by the next thing – which may be you.

This is still super cool, though. The thoughtfully designed tiles provide habitat for all kinds of clams, barnacles, anemones, etc. by loading up on complexity (and rugosity, oooh marine science word-alert!) on several levels. Just look at the close-up pictures of the tiles – there are a lot of layers going on. These babies are the ogres (or onions, or parfait) of 3D-printed marine habitat. And you know coming from me that’s saying something. Certified R.A.D. by J.D. Power.

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