Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Soft robotics and new materials will have the biggest impact on industry, says Protolabs report

A new Protolabs report reveals that almost one third (32 percent) of robotics industry experts believe that soft robotics and new materials will have the biggest impact on how robotics manufacturing will develop in the next five years.

Meanwhile, more than one quarter (29 percent) see the material supply chain as the most serious barrier to progress.

Sustainability and speed were highlighted as important factors for innovation and product development in fresh applications.

The “2023 Robotics Manufacturing Status Report” is based on a survey of key players in robotics, and insights from industry experts, providing an engineer’s guide to the latest status and future trends in hardware, materials and innovation in robotics manufacturing.

It explores the core technologies that make up a robotics project and the role of digital manufacturing to develop and test new parts from new materials faster.

The report examines the increasing use of robotic manufacturing in Industry 4.0 and how new robotic hardware and software will solve tasks in uncontrolled and hostile environments.

Soft robotics, such as grippers that enable robots to perform more logistical tasks, is expecting a compound annual growth rate of 35.1 percent between 2022 and 2027 with biomedicine, food and agriculture set to benefit.

Stephen Dyson, discussing the report, client programs manager – Protolabs EMEA, says: “Using new materials and technology requires several iterations for testing and refinement, so the development cycle has to be fast.

“Digital manufacturing using 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding uses data to help manufacturers make the right design and production choices to prototype and test faster.

“This, coupled with the number of new materials available for such manufacturing, is helping steer robotics into previously unheard-of applications.”

Per Sjorbrg, host of Robots in Depth, says: “Robotics is expanding into new areas with great benefits to organisations, such as soft grippers that will accelerate automation in logistics and agriculture.

“Fast and convenient design iterations in all materials and production methods is key to keeping costs down, which will make applications much more accessible and financially viable. New materials are critical to these developments, which is why industry experts are concerned about the supply chain.”

The survey was conducted with Wevolver and gained responses from 63 designers, engineers and manufacturers from around the world.

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