We’ve reported how Perth-based Aurora Labs explores the possibilities of 3D printing technology being utilized in agriculture field just one month ago. Now, here is the true story of how MakerBot helps farmers in Myanmar to adapt and prototype faster with 3D printers and increases their ability to address the needs of rural work.
Taiei Harimoto is the Product Design Manager at Proximity Designs, a Yangon based social enterprise that’s innovating high-quality farming equipment to serve the country’s agrarian economy.
According to Taiei Harimoto, they’ve been relying extensively on metal machining for prototyping. However, this process is time-consuming and expensive. It was not until 2015 that they discovered that MakerBot might be able to address some of the prototyping challenges in the product development cycle. MakerBot donated a printer to Proximity for them to observe the impact it could have on engineering challenges in the field.
“Having the Replicator changed a lot of fundamental things about the research and development process. The printer played a central role, for example, when we needed to nail down the dimensions of specific components of a project, especially crucial parts that affected the overall alignment of the product such as spacing rings.”(Gould, former mechanical engineer at Proximity Designs, now works at MakerBot)
Gould explains that the majority of the vendors they work with barely have any experience in using CAD software, and conversations over 2D drawings about yet-to-be-created parts were not always intuitive. Fortunately, the conversations become straightforward and simple when they hold a 3D printed tool in hand.
Proximity Designs have been relying on local manufacturing resources in Myanmar and they’ve been limited by slow and inefficient manual machining. As their products have become more sophisticated and complex, the lack of high-precision prototyping options has made this problem ever more obvious.
“The design team no longer needed to wait for precision, manually-machined parts. Prototypes were quickly adapted and repaired with 3D printed components, providing more opportunities to test the parts in the field. We can get valuable feedback and improve on previous designs faster.”(Gould, former mechanical engineer at Proximity Designs, now works at MakerBot)
In addition, ready-to-use printers have drastically reduced the costs generated in machining and shipping process where their self-designed CAD samples would otherwise be produced and transported across the ocean. This also gives them a certain leeway to physically try their assembly processes and refine designs before they reach a final decision.
According to Proximity’s team, they will continue to incorporate with MakerBot in future prototyping work.
Agriculture could be the fundemental industry in a nation. I’m glad to see that modern farmers are revolutionalising their work method through the new technology.
Feature Image: MakerBot