The global soft robotics market size was valued at USD 554 million in 2021, expected to advance to USD 4,805 million with a CAGR of 31% during the forecast period. Soft robotics is a sub-field of construction robots that enables re-programmable, multipurpose, and flexible systems that intelligently link sensing action. Soft robotics is a system composed primarily of materials having mechanical properties comparable to those of living tissues. It has now spread to the retail, food & beverage, logistics, and healthcare industries to innovate the product supply chain. Moreover, soft robotics enables end-users to boost the flexibility and adaptability of the manufacturing process due to their ability to perceive their surroundings and react accordingly.
Moreover, soft robotics providers create materials, components, and massive active structures that can safely relate to the production process and better adapt to their immediate surroundings than robots constructed of hard components. Soft robotics could eliminate the complexity of mechanical and computational robot designs. In addition, soft robotics can be used with tissue engineering to produce hybrid systems for medical applications. Moreover, soft robotics can be separated into robot grippers, medical robots, and other similar categories based on the robotics applications.
Due to the fast expansion of smart infrastructure in the healthcare sector, the soft robotics industry is anticipated to experience growth over the forecast period. The global market for soft robotics is anticipated to be driven by the increased usage of IoT and AI-based technologies in the logistics and retail sectors. Therefore, it provides more realistic movement and body. In addition, robotics muscles are one of the most widely used applications in the industrial industry. In light of these considerations, it is anticipated that the global soft robotics market will expand rapidly in the coming years.
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Expanding Industrialization and Automation and Growth in Numbers of Exoskeleton Innovations
Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, is the result of the advent of the internet's mass use. With the incorporation of robots, automation, digitalization, information technology, and communication technologies, the focus of manufacturers has consequently switched from increasing production to increased productivity. According to the excerpts, certain occupations are anticipated to be taken over by robots during the next decade. Significant investments in automation and robotics are made not only by wealthy nations but also by developing nations. As a result, it generates prospects for soft robots, consequently propelling the market growth for soft robotics.
Soft exoskeletons assist individuals with neurological diseases or who are physically fragile. As a result of changing lifestyles, a considerable proportion of people become frail as they age. The use of exoskeletons in rehabilitating people with physical disabilities and neurological illnesses is gaining popularity. As a result, market participants are launching innovative products to meet the diverse needs of the healthcare industry, thereby accelerating market growth. In addition, countries such as Japan, Italy, Finland, and Germany have a substantial elder population that will drive the market for soft robotics in the following years.
Expenses Related to Soft Robotics
The field of soft robotics is only in its infancy stage currently. Most of the robots that have been built have not yet been launched in the market. As a result, the costs associated with developing soft robotics are incredibly high. Additionally, because there is a lesser demand for soft robotics due to a lack of awareness about its benefits, it is not feasible for mass production. In addition, businesses that will be using robots need to provide their employees with training on how to operate them. When all of these other factors are considered, the high price of soft robotics presents a significant challenge to expanding the soft robotics market.
Innovative Robots for Small & Medium Scale Industries
Small and medium-sized businesses are particularly unattractive as consumers for the soft robotics market due to their little revenue and specific need for developing consumer-centric solutions. However, due to technological advancement and increasing automation, these businesses present a profitable potential for soft robotics market expansion. This unrealized potential can be realized by developing robots within the budgets of these businesses. Moreover, increased awareness among these organizations of the benefits of investing in robots for the next generation to boost significantly productivity and manufacturing quality is predicted to drive the market for soft robotics throughout the forecast period.
The global soft robotics market is bifurcated into various segments based on type, component, end-use, and region.
Based on type, the classification includes soft grippers, cobots, inflated robots, and exoskeleton.
The exoskeleton segment is expected to witness the largest market share during the forecast period, with a CAGR of 33.5%. Exoskeleton robots are designed to augment, imitate, or enhance the human body's movements. Exoskeleton robots are mainly utilized for rehabilitation programs in the healthcare industry to train muscle movements and aid in injury recovery. It is commonly utilized in the military to counteract weariness and injury among combatants. Exoskeleton robots have promising potential in the healthcare, defense, industrial, and consumer areas. Consequently, driving market expansion for soft robotics.
Soft grippers are expected to hold the second-largest share. A soft gripper is a type of soft robotics that can pick up an extensive range of irregularly shaped and fragile objects, such as bakery products or glass. Due to the elimination of time spent computing and administering a specific method for each object, soft grippers are remarkably quick at picking up unstructured things, as they can conform to an extensive range of objects. Soft grips are excellent for food distributors, warehouses, and manufacturers that offer various products.
Based on components, the classification includes hardware and software.
The hardware component is expected to hold the majority of market shares during the forecast period with a CAGR of 31.4%. Soft robotics' hardware consists of a body or frame, manipulators, drive-train, and control system. These hardware components are constructed from soft, highly flexible materials such as paper, fabric, and fibers. Market participants are ingeniously designing soft robotics to fulfill the needs of several industries; hence, there is substantial global demand for soft robotics hardware. In addition, the growing desire for automation in various industries, such as food and beverage and retail, accelerates the demand for soft robots in the coming years.
Software components are expected to hold the second-largest share. The software component is required to control soft robots. It supports the analysis, design, testing, modification, installation, and controlling of soft robots with a complete toolchain. Soft robot manufacturers utilize various software to supply the fundamental programming framework. In addition, the combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is enhancing the capabilities of soft robotics.
Based on end-user, the market is classified into healthcare, advanced manufacturing, food & beverages, logistics, and others.
The Healthcare sector is expected to hold the largest share in revenue with a CAGR of 30.3% during the forecast period. This market segment covers soft stretch sensor technology, subdivided depending on medical, surgical, and other applications. In addition, soft robotics facilitates highly efficient processes and a safer environment for patients and healthcare professionals. Soft robotics is an innovative manufacturing solution that market participants in the healthcare industry are implementing in surgical, pharmaceutical, and other industries to achieve safe human-machine interaction. In addition, the global healthcare industry is quickly embracing soft robotics systems due to the need for more extensive and task-specific training than traditional approaches.
The advanced manufacturing sector is expected to hold the second-largest share in the market. Advanced manufacturing solutions such as soft robotics systems are needed for the reliable production of cutting-edge, cost-effective, flexible manufacturing solutions in the medical, aerospace, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Additive manufacturing and robotics/automated processes are also driving the expansion of advanced production systems in automotive, consumer goods, prototypes, and other areas.
The regional segmentation of the global soft robotics market includes North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and LAMEA.
Asia-Pacific And Europe Will Dominate The Regional Market
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Asia-Pacific is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 31.8% and hold the largest share among the regions during the forecast period. Asia-Pacific nations like India, Vietnam, and China are rapidly industrializing. In addition, the automation rate in nations like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia is exceptionally high. Consequently, the market for soft robotics will find applications in this area throughout the forecast period. In addition, this region's manufacturing, food & beverage, and consumer goods industries invest heavily in smart factories, robotics, automation, logistics, and industrial Internet of Things, which fuels the growth of the soft robotics market in this region.
Europe will hold the second-largest share of USD 1,801 million with a CAGR of 32.2% during the forecast period. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Europe has the most significant number of installed robots. Consequently, it signifies the technological readiness of this region to absorb new technology. With technical innovation and increased awareness and understanding of soft robotics, the European soft robotics market is expected to grow in the coming years.
North America will grow at the highest CAGR. This region's deployment of soft robotics is driven mainly by the continued tendency to automate manufacturing facilities to enhance American industries worldwide. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. has recorded approximately 39 serious robot accidents, ranging from amputation to death. Consequently, there is a rise in safety standards in the manufacturing and processing industry, compelling businesses to engage in soft robotics. In addition, there is a considerable increase in the region's warehouses and distribution hubs. Therefore, it is projected that the demand for warehouse management systems will increase, offering lucrative growth prospects for the soft robotics market.