Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Myanmar farmers reap rewards from 3D printing

MYANMAR: Whizzing across a blue-lit platform with a whirr and a squeak, liquid plastic emanating from its chrome tip, the 3D printer seems a far cry from the muddy, crop-filled fields that fringe Yangon.


Saturday 28 January 2017, 02:00PM

Betel leaf farmer Kyaw Win holding plastic sprinkler nozzles, made using 3D printer technology, at a betel leaf farm in Nyaung Don township in Irrawaddy Region. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP

Betel leaf farmer Kyaw Win holding plastic sprinkler nozzles, made using 3D printer technology, at a betel leaf farm in Nyaung Don township in Irrawaddy Region. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP

But in an industrial park south of Myanmar’s commercial hub, the advanced technology is now being used to design bespoke parts that are changing the lives of impoverished farmers.

Myanmar’s manufacturing sector was gutted under five decades of isolationist military rule, forcing farmers to cobble together their own tools or use ill-adapted imports.

Poor equipment has only added to the hardships of growing crops in the disaster-prone country, where farmers account for nearly half of the economy’s output despite being among the poorest producers in Asia.

But in one corner of Yangon, change is afoot.

Over at social enterprise Proximity Designs, cutting-edge 3D printer technology is being used to design specially adapted tools, in consultation with the farmers who use them.

“We want to create something that farmers find delight in,” product designer Taiei Harimoto said at their workshop, where robotic arms line the walls near benches littered with tools and mechanical parts.

The printer, a small, black, hollow cube with a needle inside attached to a computer, has already been put to use helping design parts for a sprinkler system and the internal mechanics for a solar pump.

Creating prototypes in plastic means the team can perfect designs for complex pieces in the lab, cutting out a lengthy back-and-forth that can cost thousands of dollars.

QSI International School Phuket

Once the design has been perfected, it is then sent off to factories in other countries where the final part is mass produced.

“Before it might have taken weeks and sometimes months” to make the prototypes for each product, said co-founder Debbie Aung Din.

Out in the fields, farmers say they are already seeing their profits grow.

On his tiny half-acre plot some 100 kilometres from Yangon, betel leaf farmer Kyaw Win said his life has been changed by the 3D printer-designed sprinkling system he installed over two months ago.

“Using products like this can cut in half the amount of time we have to spend working each day,” the 60-year-old said as he stroked the plants’ wide leaves, which many people in Myanmar chew as a stimulant.

Instead of paying labourers to water the plants using buckets – back-breaking work that often meant the leaves became damp and diseased – now he has a targeted system that he can operate himself.

“We also reduced our costs by more than half compared to what we had to spend before,” he explained.



Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Board vetoes ban on hazardous chemicals

Astonishing inability of reading and comprehending.No,it's not defending some careless handling ...(Read More)

Taxi blames oil spill for wipeout

This is funny, how can RTP charge a driver for this happening due to a oils spill on the road ( duri...(Read More)

Patong Police Chief: Leave your valuables at home

Who in their right mind (anywhere in the world) will leave a bag with that amount of cash unattended...(Read More)

Police probe launched after Chinese tourist suffers DCS in ‘try dive’

The outfit running the tour should have been fully aware of the existence of "SSS Hyperbaric Ch...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: Fear and loathing in paradise

Should be no problem for people who want to retire in Thailand, they just have to prove (not claim) ...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: Fear and loathing in paradise

And if a person, for a sanitary emergency or for an accident needs to use part of the 400,000 baht, ...(Read More)

Koh Kaew OrBorTor tackles roadside dumping

Municipal refuse collection and recycling locations should be provided by every municipality. Somewh...(Read More)

Dozens of street racers, promoter arrested in Bangkok

What is the legal setting in Thailand regarding drugs/urine tests out there? When is it voluntarily ...(Read More)

Chalong Underpass makes breakthrough

That structure in Chalong circle centre is to much. Very ugly and bombastic/pompous. Wait for the da...(Read More)

Dozens of street racers, promoter arrested in Bangkok

Are there no racing circuit areas in Thailand for this hobby? Organise races, have a police unit the...(Read More)