Category Archives: Open Source

3D Printer Arrives in Kingdom


A 3D printer produces a chocolate heart. BLOOMBERG

A 3D printer produces a chocolate heart. BLOOMBERG

Cambodia’s tech revolution? 3D printer arrives on Kingdom shores

Fri, 27 December 2013

3D printers have given the US technology industry a boost. Bennett Murray meets the brothers who are introducing the idea to Cambodia.

One of the world’s most curious tech toys has arrived in the Kingdom: the 3D printer. The concept, so new that even its pioneers aren’t quite sure what to do with it, is in Phnom Penh courtesy of a pair of Cambodian-American brothers who aim to make the city a hub for the burgeoning technology.

Ki How Tran, 23 and Ki Chong, 26, founded a firm, Arc Hub, in October, intended to teach people how to use the printers after Ki Chong learned about the technology while working sales for an aerospace company in Los Angeles. After researching the possibilities, Chong decided to bring one printer to his ancestral homeland.

“It kept snowballing, so eventually I thought, let’s bring it to Cambodia and they can use it,” he said in an interview in Phnom Penh.

Their short term plan is to begin 3D printing classes next month at SmallWorld, a collaborative work place and business resource centre in Toul Kork. With the help of two recent architecture graduates, who will focus on the software aspect of 3D printing, Kiw How and Ki Chong plan to teach their students everything from the design aspect to the physical construction of the devices.

The brothers’ own first printer arrived dissembled from the US and had to be constructed by Ki How.

“I had never even seen one until I built one,” he said. Without any prior experience, it has been up to the brothers to figure out for themselves how to make the technology work.

“I want to teach students from the very beginning how to wire everything – how to set everything up, so they can say that Cambodia has built its first 3D printer,” said Ki How Tran.


A 3D printer passes the Royal Palace in a tuk-tuk. PHOTO SUPPLIED

A 3D printer passes the Royal Palace in a tuk-tuk. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The devices, which were invented in the 1980s and popularised in the early 2010s, turn digitally designed 3D graphics into tangible objects through a process of sequential layering. Although some hi-tech models can create objects out of metal and even live cells, most 3D printers use plastic.

The hope, said Ki How, is that 3D printers will one day replace physical couriers. “Ideally, every major city will have a 3D printer, so you wouldn’t really need to ship.”

The possibilities are endless, with everything from food to human organs potentially printable. US President Barack Obama gave tech engineers a morale boost when he highlighted the printers as a potential source for new hi-tech jobs last February.

A Texas man made headlines after designing a functional firearm made almost entirely with a 3D printer. There has been negative news too: the controversy of 3D printed hand guns.

For good or bad, this year saw enormous growth in varieties of printer, some of which reached their lowest yet prices at around $199.

But despite the hype, 3D printing is yet to hit its stride. It was only a matter of weeks ago that 3D systems announced a full-tone printer that could create rainbow-coloured objects.

“That’s pretty much everyone’s question: what are people going to use it for?” said Ki Chong.

In Cambodia, he suggested, 3D printers could mean mass production on a cheaper budget.

“You don’t need giant factories, land, huge investments of even a very high level of technical skill to make things using 3D printing.


Twin brothers Ki Chong and Ki How Tran

Twin brothers Ki Chong and Ki How Tran.Heng Chivoan


“It allows countries with very little resources, like Cambodia, to create things uniquely for themselves that otherwise would have been mass-produced by giant factories in China or Vietnam.”

Va Chenda, a 22-year-old graphic designer for Arc Hub, said the printing will offer an outlet for Cambodia’s creatives.

“With 3D printing, anyone can be a designer. They can design their own thing and bring it out, instead of just going to the market and buying the same thing as a million other things in the market.”

Chenda also said that the technology presents the potential for cheap manufacturing in the Kingdom that goes beyond the garment sector.

“If we compare to the startup costs of factories, and the cost of the machines for the printers, [3D printing] is cheaper. You can sell their designs online, so you can get a profit without steep costs.”

The brothers, who own two printers imported from the US, have thus far printed objects with varying degrees of success. The team managed to create a spare gear for a sewing machine that Ki How Tran estimated would have otherwise cost around $200 to replace, but a plastic sculpture of US comedian Stephen Colbert ended up looking like a deformed Abraham Lincoln due to a hardware malfunction.

Both brothers agreed, however, that the point of experimenting with 3D printing today is to get onboard with the technology before its practical uses take off in full force.

Ki Chong compared 3D printing to the early days of the Internet, or computers, adding it had the potential to “fundamentally disrupt and change how things are made, but no one knows exactly how or what is going to be made.

“If you compare 3D printing to the Internet, we are before the time of email, instant messaging, or news websites, which showed the practical applications of the Internet,” he said.

“No one back then could have predicted smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, crowd-funding, couch-surfing, and so on, which all fundamentally changed the way we do business and interact with each other.”

“I want to bring 3D printing to Cambodia so people can learn about it and use it at the same time as the rest of the world, while it is still a new technology, so Cambodia won’t be left behind, but instead be in the front, leading the way.”​

Arc Hub, a work space where 3D printing skills are taught, can be found at #17 Street 604, Touk Kork, Phnom Penh.

2013 AutoCAD File Phnom Penh

Thank you to Serey Pagna for sharing. Download file here.



3D Rhino Topography of Phnom Penh

Thank you to the students at the University of Houston who developed and shared a Grasshoper plug-in for Rhino which estimates the topography of Phnom Penh. The GHX begins with an image – in this case a color topographic map by Aruna Technology and Blum and posted originally here.

Download the Rhino model, GHX file and more information here.


Cambodia: World Development Indicators

Google Public Data Explorer

Hmm. Embedding isn’t working. Here are some screenshots.



Data Visualization Tools


Gapminder – Statistics like you’ve never seen them before, thanks to Hans Rosling. Gapminder creates moving bubble charts so you can track the progress of different countries over time. It includes a huge number of indicators pre-loaded into the system, so you don’t even have to go looking for data.

Tableau Public – A great tool for making interactive charts. Data can be displayed in a range of different ways (geographic maps, heat maps, bar charts, bubble charts, etc) and related data can be linked together. The finished interactive charts can then be shared online. Includes geographic maps for Cambodia.

Prezi – Actually a presentation tool, but can also be used to make zooming charts. WARNING: Excessing use of Prezi can cause motion sickness.

Many Eyes – Lots of simple online tools for making quick visualisations of both quantitative and qualitative data.

Sources of data

International data

UN Data – The first place to look for all data collected by UN agencies.

Human Development Reports – Data on a wide range of development indicators. Can be viewed as interactive charts and also downloaded as tables.

WHO Global Health Observatory – Data on health indicators collected by the WHO. Available in a fully searchable database that can also be downloaded as tables.

World Bank Data Catalogue – A wide range of data collections on economic development, financial and other indicators.

Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index – Data on the perceived level of government corruption in countries.

OECD Query Wizard for International Development Statistics (QWIDS) – A searchable database on aid funds donated by OECD countries. You can search by donor country, recipient country, topic that the aid money was used for, and even compare aid commitments with the actual amount given.

Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration (2011) – Data on aid effectiveness indicators set during the Paris Declaration, including country level results for Cambodia.

Cambodian data

National Population Census– All the latest census data is available online in a searchable database. Includes a wide range of indicators, not just population figures.

CAMInfo – Data from many different surveys all in one searchable database.

Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey (CSES) – Data on a range of socioeconmic indicators such as poverty, education, labour, etc.

Cambodian Demographic Health Survey (CDHS) – Data on health indicators, and particularly health knowledge and behaviours, including fertility, family planning, adult and child mortality, nutrition, HIV/AIDS etc.

Cambodia Millennium Development Goals Reports – Data on all the MDG indicators, drawn from a range of sources.

CCC Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Contributions to the Development of Cambodia Report (2011) – Data on NGO operations in Cambodia, including the estimated number of NGOs and CSOs, focus areas, size of populations served, and budgets.

Violence Against Women Survey (2009) – Data on all forms of violence against women in Cambodia, including domestic violence and rape.

Program and cost effectiveness data

The Cochrane Collaboration – Systematic reviews of many different health interventions and programs.

The Campbell Collaboration – Systematic reviews on education, health and social policy and programs.

International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) – A great source of impact evaluations and systematic reviews on development programs.

Givewell – Conducts evidence based reviews of NGO programs.

WHO-CHOICE – A database of all WHO cost-effectiveness data, by region.

World Bank Independent Evaluation Group – Impact ratings for all World Bank programs completed since 1981. Can be viewed as a Tableau Public visualisation, or downloaded as tables.

Help With The Phnom Penh Map Hunt?

If you are aware of other available maps then please e-mail me with the location, source or image file. 

This is a document containing all of the historic and contemporary print maps of Phnom Penh I’ve found during my research.

Mapping Phnom Penh

The goal is to expedite future research by streamlining access to these maps.

Once sourced, I will create a summary PDF containing all of the maps and referencing the available digital images on the Phnom Penh Spatial Dropbox (which also contains digital mapping resources: GIS and DWG).

I’m sharing in good faith – therefore please do not yet print or distribute – I’ll post everything I’ve found once it is revised.



New NEC Districts


Previously posted.