Copy Machine Journeys


In the vein of nothing being broken, here’s a peek into the photocopier restoration industry here. Up until two years ago, the majority of this shop’s broken copy machines came to Myanmar from Europe via Singapore. Recently, however, their Singapore contact dropped off the map and they have since been sourcing broken copying machines from China (whose supply is growing – a sign that China is diverging away from the “fix everything” mindset of Myanmar to “let’s just get a new machine” mindset of developed countries).

A typical broken copying machine they get ahold of is from the early to mid 90’s and costs about $25. The employees of this particular shop have become so skilled at disassembling, repairing, and reassembling copy machines that they can do the whole process in about a day and a half (without using any instruction manuals, of course). The replacement parts are either fabricated on-site from improvised materials or sourced from China. Once the machines are fixed, the store keeps some machines for use in their other business (they are also a copying shop, making photocopies of books and documents for neighborhood residents) and sell others to whomever wants them. They also stand by their work, and have a mobile repair team that carry out any fixes on any machines that they’ve sold.

To sum it up, the words of the proprietor: “People here are very ingenious.”

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