Interview: Arc Hub PNH, Cambodia’s First 3D Printing Startup

Since our last interview with Arc Hub PNH, Cambodia’s first 3D printing startup has been making a name for 3D printing in the Kingdom. From prosthetic arms to a new initiative, Arc Hub is set to change lives for the better.

We got in touch with Ki Chong Tran, one of Arc Hub’s founders, for updates on the startup.

This interview has been edited for length, clarity and flow.

What is the general progress of Arc Hub so far?

We have a few new team members. We moved to a temporary location inside the Royal University of Fine Arts and are expected to move to a permanent space in mid-October. We will move into a new shared space called TRYBE, and we will have a makerspace there with tools and equipment such as 3D printers that TRYBE members can use.

Are there any notable milestones that Arc Hub has accomplished?

Our biggest milestones have been:

Completing our biggest single project ever for the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone. It is a 3D printed and laser cut model that you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFOXqIxiFM4

Completing the Think Global Make Local course, which you can read about here: http://www.development-innovations.org/success-stories/think-global-make-local-3d-printing-propels-young-cambodians-future/

Starting the first project to create prosthetic hands in Cambodia with the Victoria Hand Project: http://www.victoriahandproject.com/#!Progress-Update-from-Cambodia/c1e9u/578191d60cf2e63d26627c66

What new challenges are you facing?

We face similar challenges to what we faced before and what many other small companies face, such as how do we grow? How do we scale up? How do we make more money? How do we keep the lights on?

Can you tell us more about your Think Global, Make Local initiative?

Think Global Make Local is a training program to bring design and technology skills to local Cambodians who are dedicated to creating a business. We tried to start it as a crowdfunding campaign almost one year ago exactly, but failed to raise enough money. We then tried to fund the course with sponsorships from large companies, but that failed too. Finally we applied for a grant from USAID Development Innovations and were able to fund the course that way. We are very happy with the results and what we were able to achieve. Here is the highlight video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ilBvECMHm8

Our two top students are growing their businesses now and I am very proud of what they have done. There is a lot of potential in their idea and I am confident that they will do well. I hope that your readers support them! Here are the Facebook pages for their businesses:

https://www.facebook.com/AKARA-126221694453335/

https://www.facebook.com/Doydoycompany/ 

What inspired you to create this initiative?

We wanted to share our skills with people in Cambodia and our goal has always been to empower people in Cambodia to make their own products. It was just the necessary next step to reach our end goal. We hope to do more Think Global Make Local courses in the future.

What do you hope to achieve with this initiative?

I hope that students of the course are able to build sustainable and successful businesses.

Arc Hub has recently created prosthetic arms for amputees. Is this something that your startup is interested in pursuing/doing more often?

Yes we have been in talks with the Victoria Hand Project for over a year and it is great that we were finally able to start making it happen. This is a very important project for us and we hope to make a lot more prosthetic or medical devices using 3D printing, because it has so much potential in this field. There is also a lot of need for prosthetics in Cambodia as well as other parts of South East Asia, so we hope to make many more prosthetic hands in the future.

What is the 3D printing scene like in Cambodia now? Has it garnered more awareness?

When we first arrived in Cambodia about two and a half years ago, very few people knew about 3D printing. Now I feel like everyone we talk to knows what 3D printing is, but not a lot of people are using it. That is one of the reasons why we are joining TRYBE, it’s so that we can be part of a community and open up our technology so that more people can use it.

How do you think Cambodia’s 3D printing scene will evolve in the future?

I think it really depends if ARC Hub survives and grows or not. If ARC Hub dies, then the 3D printing scene dies since we are still the only ones in the country really doing it. If ARC Hub is able to grow and realize our vision, then the 3D printing scene will be awesome in Cambodia.

What are some short term and long term plans for Arc Hub?

In the short term, we want to create a great space for the community with TRYBE. We want to do another Think Global Make Global (TGML) program. We want our past TGML students DoyDoy and Akara to make a lot of money. We want to make a lot of money.

In the long term, we want to create many prosthetic hands and other prosthetic limbs for people in Cambodia and around the world. We want to do design projects for people all around the world. We want to expand to new locations all around the world. We want new startups in Cambodia to make a lot of money.