This 3D coral polyp model shows a cross section of a single polyp, including its tentacles, gastrodermis, stomach cavity, and the complex skeletal structure underneath. It is a generic representation and not a replica of any particular species. Each half has interlocking pegs that allow a full polyp to be assembled.
Use a dual-spool 3D printer, if available, with white filament for the base (skeletal structure) and thermo-sensitive filament for the top polyp portion. For the best effect, use a filament that turns from color to white. When exposed to warm water, the polyp will then mimic the loss of its symbiotic zooxanthellae algae within and turn white. When the material cools down a few seconds later, the original color returns, signaling the restart of its symbiont algae and the return of the coral to a healthy state.
In addition, small pieces of material can be “fed” to the coral polyp through its “mouth” to symbolize the coral feeding in plankton.
3D Print Specifications: The model file has two separate components—the polyp body and the skeletal base structure, which can be printed using two different filament materials (if available). The suggested 3D printer settings are
Model printed at 50% scale (ideal)
Layer height: 0.1 mm
Base: 1.2 mm
Polyp tentacle tips: 2 mm
Print speed: 60mm/s
Watch this video for a short demonstration of how the finished 3D coral polyp works, including brief introductions to basic coral biology and bleaching and how the model can be used to teach about coral bleaching and for general outreach purposes.
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.