VOLVO Relies on 3D Printing to Combat Plastic Pollution


Volvo recently installed its 3D printed Living Seawall in the Sydney Harbor to promote marine biodiversity and combat ocean plastic pollution.

This initiative is part of a campaign aimed to rebuild Sidney’s coast, which urbanization over the course of the years has been converted to a manmade seawall and clean the ocean from plastics and pollutants.

“There’s a Swedish word, omtanke, that means ‘caring’ and ‘consideration.’,” said Nick Connor, Managing Director at Volvo Car Australia, “I think that really captures what we’re trying to achieve with the Living Seawall, and it sums up Volvo’s approach to sustainability in general. We’re always trying to rethink, reinvent, redesign for the better.”

And when it comes to redesigning there’s no better technology than 3D printing.

For the project, Volvo decided to partner with North Sydney Council, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, and Reef Design Lab.

The project draws on biomimicry, where natural systems are simulated, with each hexagonal tile incorporating the interwoven structure of mangrove roots as well as a more complex texture underneath to encourage the growth of microorganisms. The tiles were cast from a 3D printed mold using a mixture of cement and recycled plastic. The layers from the FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printing process are still visible, but that’s actually a good thing because it’s the same texture as oysters, which are one of the filtering organisms expected to take up residence in the tiles; the matching texture will aid the oysters in growing onto the tiles.