Founded in 2017, MY YARD Tech is a developer of portable vacuum forming machines that allow creators and designers to churn out commercial grade products from the comfort of their homes.
Vacuum forming is a manufacturing technique that can shape various plastic materials to make prototypes, packaging and moulds. With a desktop unit, these products can be made at a fraction of the cost compared to a large-scale mass production.
The machine can be used in a variety of sectors, including engineering, architecture, confectionery and even beauty, where it is most used to create packaging or moulds.
The start-up debuted its first vacuum forming machine, the FORMART 1 at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show.
This year, the company has introduced the FORMART 2. Compared to its predecessor, FORMART 2 includes several upgrades including better heating, real-time temperature sensing, and industrial-level suction control technology.
The creator of the FORMART machines is founder Emerson Shih, a former electrical engineer, whose interest in building remote-controlled cars and 3D printing led to the development of these machines.
“In the past several years, I’ve learnt a lot from 3D printing, and I’ve found limitations of the technology. Mainly, I realised that 3D-printed products or prototypes generally lack that commercial-grade finish,” Shih told CosmeticsDesign-Asia.
With the FORMART 2, the company aims to equip creators, designers and entrepreneur with the capabilities to produce products that look ready to hit the market.
“I realised the best solution was not a 3D printer, but a vacuum former. That’s because the products you can get from a vacuum former look has that sort of commercial finish like it was made under mass production and not just a handmade project,” said Shih.
Indie brand supporter
The FORMART 1 began shipping early last year after its debut at CES 2020 and has since shipped out over 300 units to 100 teaching schools, micro-enterprises, and design studios.
In Asia, the machine has been popular among beauty companies, such as independent brands creating handmade soaps.
For these such brands, Shih explained that the machine can help them keep up with the fast-moving trends in the market in order to stay competitive.
“In order for these brands to survive, their products must really be special. In addition to that, they have to keep coming up with new ideas and new shapes to keep their customers interested. Once there's a new trend, they have to jump on it right away. That segment is quite competitive. Being able to follow the trends and change the look of a product at a moment’s notice is a very important factor.”
Another major use for the machine in the beauty industry is packaging. As the thermoplastic used by the FORMART 2 is non-toxic, beauty brands will not have to worry about contamination.
Shih highlighted one beauty company that its vacuum former has been used to create trial packs.
“The company could have purchased small bottles or jars from a supplier, but those are standard packaging with no logos. So, they used the machine to create a distinct packaging for the brand. This way when the consumer receives the sample, they are more like to remember it because of its differentiation.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Shih believes the need for a portable, industrial-grade machines like the FORMART 2 has increased.
“Because of the pandemic, more people are working remotely, so the immediate benefit of [FORMART 2] is that they won't need to go to factory or office if they want to build a prototype. That's why we are promoting this machine right now and we believe we can help people working at home.”
Earlier in March, the FORMART 2 debuted on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter with a modest goal of $10,000. In five days, the project received $135,358 from 74 backers.
Shih said crowdfunding was a great platform for start-up companies like MY YARD, as it helps companies gain good exposure globally.
“It’s very difficult to have to explain your product to people. With crowdfunding, we won’t have to do so much of that because people can see for themselves the results of crowdfunding.”
With the crowdfunding project a success, the company is moving towards building a sales channel to support customers so they can continually purchase the thermoplastic sheets and get after-service support.