In the classic 1967 film The Graduate the character Mr. McGuire advises recent college graduate Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) to pursue a career in the up-and-coming plastics industry.
Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin spends the rest of the movie floating in the family pool and getting involved in messy love affairs, but at Proximity we were listening! From a design perspective plastics offer an amazing degree of flexibility, and in manufacturing this often translates into reduced costs and greater consistency – both of which are highly desirable. So as our in-house design capacity has grown and we’ve found vendors able to work with us, over time we’ve integrated more and more plastics into our products. Across all products we are currently using over 60 unique plastic parts designed by our team.
Left: the parts for the Kyan Ni junction box. Right: the Sin Pauq junction box.
The “junction box” is a great example of the motivations. This is the part in every pump which separates the water coming from the source into the two cylinders. In our Kyan Ni pump, the oldest among the products we’re currently manufacturing, the junction box is formed by six different steel parts and is assembled through four distinct welding operations. Every weld is subject to variability in process parameters and operator skill, so we have an extensive quality control operation in place to check for any flaws. Total cost of parts and labor is approximately 1900 Ks (about $2.15). In the Sin Pauq pump – a nearly all-plastic model introduced in 2010 -- the junction box is a single injection molded plastic part that costs only 850 Ks ($0.96), and assembly of this part with the rest of the pump is dead simple!
Of course, this is still Myanmar. Many elements of the tools, methods, and materials being used in the plastics industry here are still decades behind the most developed places. In our partnership with vendors here we are regularly pushing the envelope – seeking more complex geometry, better materials, and tighter control. The expertise our team has developed working within the present constraints is extremely unique and highly valuable for our ability to get products to market. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it’s worth it – through the use of plastics we are moving ever closer to our goals of making products that meet today’s standards of high quality and radical affordability for our customers.
An employee at an injection molding business pulls on a handle to force molten plastic into the cavity of a steel mold.