Sunday, 1 January 2017

Myanmar farmers reap rewards from 3D printing


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.


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 told AFP 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