Dec 23, 2016 | By Tess

Impoverished farmers in Myanmar (Burma), a country long held under military rule and which has seen much civil war and devastation, could soon benefit from 3D printing technologies. How can 3D printing help a rural farmer, you might ask? Well, the farmers will be able to use additive manufacturing to make specialized tools and replacement parts on the fly, parts they have been lacking for years due to the severe and isolating military rule.

The new 3D printing project is being initiated in Yangon (Rangoon), the largest city in the South East Asian nation, by a local social enterprise called Proximity Designs. There, specialists are using 3D modeling and 3D printing to create custom farming tools that poor rural farmers could benefit from. According to the organization, they are working closely with Burmese farmers to ensure they are making tools that they will use and actually need.

More specifically, Proximity Designs is using 3D printing to prototype and develop innovative farming products. So far, they have worked on designing a sprinkler system, as well as the internal mechanics for a solar pump. Like in most industries, 3D printing is helping the organization to cut down prototyping turn-over and overall production times, which in turn, has cut down significantly on cost. Once the 3D printing prototyping stage is complete, Proximity Designs has been shipping its new farming tools to factories outside the country, where they are being mass produced.

Burmese farmers are reportedly already seeing the benefits of having their new farming tools and equipment. Kyaw Win, a betel farmer who own a small half-acre farm outside of Yangon, for instance, has been more than satisfied with his new sprinkler system, which was developed with the help of 3D printing technologies. Win, who has been using the sprinkler for over two months now, has seen his own farming labor reduced and his profits increase because of it.

Previously, Win and farmers like him would have to pay laborers to water all the plants by hand using buckets—physically straining work that didn’t even really help the plants. Now, thanks to the new sprinkler system, Win reckons he has reduced his costs by half and is seeing better results with his crops. Burmese farmers, who represent nearly 80% of Myanmar’s population, could benefit greatly from new farming equipment and tools, helping them to increase productivity while lowering labor and costs.

Proximity Designs was founded in 2004 by Jim Taylor and Debbie Aung Din, who set out to help rural populations in Myanmar by making new tools and technologies more accessible. Now, with a staff of over 350, they are making that happen in a very real way.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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