is a global leader with unlimited commercial potential in application scenarios.
—Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman & CEO of Innovation Works;
and Dean of the Academy of Artificial Intelligence Engineering
by Henry Lenard
With the global soft robotics sector expected to be a multi-billion-dollar industry by the end of the decade, China’s Soft Robot Tech Co. Ltd (SRT) is deploying its intelligent manufacturing solutions to capture its share of that market.
Established in 2016, Beijing-based SRT is an innovative technology company that develops full-process design, manufacturing and related control technologies for soft robot grippers or end-effectors. Its products cover industrial flexible fixtures, automation application equipment and overall solutions for automated factories.
Soft robotics market
Earlier this year, MarketsandResearch.biz, a leading global market research firm, released its Global Soft Robotics Market Report 2022-2028. The study focused on the market’s growth rate for that projected period.
The soft robotics market covers robots made of pliable materials such as elastomers that mimic the movement of soft bodies that exist in nature. This allows them to perform a range of tasks that can’t be done by traditional robots that are made of rigid materials. Soft robots allow for high flexibility and can be adapted to complete tasks while working safely alongside humans. They are gaining traction in the advanced manufacturing area where SRT is concentrated.
According to the study, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global soft robotics market was estimated to be worth $486.5 million in US dollars in 2021. That market is expected to explode by a CAGR of 55.4% through the study period and is forecast to reach $10.65 billion (US) by 2028.
Soft end-effector technologies
SRT is looking to expand its presence in that market by applying its soft end-effector technologies to the automation of smart industrial manufacturing. At the center of SRT’s technology is its cutting-edge end-effectors or EAOTs (end of arm tools), commonly known as soft grippers.
The traditional end-effector is often negatively affected by different shapes, materials and positions of products, and cannot grasp misshapen and fragile objects smoothly. SRT solves the problem of grasping and sorting such items by relying on the technological advantages of its innovative, soft, end-effectors.
SRT’s flexible claw can self-adapt its grasping mode to the target object, eliminating the restraint of the traditional production line that requires all target objects to be equal in size and shape. Its products offer simple control and easy application, and are suitable for mixed production scenarios.
It provides customers with a range of reliable flexible gripping solutions with its pneumatic actuators for a diversity of applications. SRT’s products cover industrial end-effectors, machine vision products, smart manufacturing solutions and intelligent medical care.
In all, SRT has 266 products in 9 series: Soft Finger Gripper (SFG), Inner Soft Clamp (ISC), Outer Soft Clamp (OSC), Mini Vacuo Gripper (MVG), Nimble Bubble Module (NBM), Van der Waals Force Suction Cup (VFC), Intelligent Electric Gripper (IEG), Pneumatic Control Module (SC) and the Soft Line Driver Gripper (SLG).
The company has taken the lead in the segmented industries of flexible grippers in China and throughout the world.
For example, the company has developed a line of four intelligent end-effector (i-EOAT) soft grippers, including its SFG-N series gripper made of food-grade silicone material.
The SFG grippers are high temperature resistant and work stably in environment from -40 degrees C up to 150 degrees C. Its flexible pneumatic fingers can be adaptively wrapped around the target object, solving the problem of gripping and handling shaped and fragile objects.
SRT’s flexible gripper consists of a flexible finger module, a stand and a robot arm connection. For different shapes and sizes of workpieces, different types of finger modules can be selected, which can be reasonably matched with the suitable holder to flexibly grip and place the object.
The washable SFG-N series gripper has achieved U.S. FDA, Japan JFSL370 and EU AP certifications, allowing direct contact with food without causing contamination.
Already, SRT has successfully deployed its SFG-N flexible grippers in a range of food manufacturing applications, including the sorting and packaging of fresh and uncooked products.
Beyond its food industry applications, the stronger load force and gripping adaptability of SRT’s line of i-EOAT soft grippers make it suitable for many other industries. The intelligence of the end-effectors can guarantee the gripping speed while enabling non-destructive grasping of objects in production, which can effectively overcome the challenge of gripping and handling of shaped and fragile items.
The grippers have been used in semiconductors, 3C electronics, injection molding, auto parts, medical equipment and high-value medical consumables, as well as retail, and food production.
SRT has multiple core technologies and independent intellectual property rights in visual location, measurement, detection and recognition, as well as the building of several types of automated production lines. It holds 102 patents, including 3 international patents, 10 invention patents, 64 utility model patents, 10 design patents, 13 software copyrights, and 2 software products.
In addition to its U.S. and Japan FDA food certification and the EU AP certification, SRT also has EU CE certification, EU RoHS certification and German LFGB testing.
400 customers serving 20 industries in more than two-dozen countries
SRT’s products are exported to nearly 400 customers serving 20 industries in more than two-dozen countries, including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Colombia, Spain, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Bulgaria, among others.
A Microsoft global smart manufacturing partner, SRT has received a number of accolades for its products.
In 2020, it won first place in the “Maker China” Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation and Entrepreneurship National Competition. That same year, The Information, a U.S.-based technology publication, named SRT as a “Top 50 Most Promising New Companies in the World”.
In 2021, SRT won first place in the HICOOL Global Entrepreneurs Summit and Entrepreneurship Competition. HICOOL is the world’s leading technology innovation service platform.
SRT also was awarded in 2021 the title of “Little Giant” at the national level in China. That’s the designation for a new generation of startups under a government program to foster a technology industry that can compete with America’s Silicon Valley.
Soft robotics is a versatile technology for many industries and has unlimited commercial potential. SRT, as one of the first tech companies in China to explore such technology, has been at the forefront of developing soft robotics applications for the industrial automation sector.
After six years of steady growth, SRT’s business has achieved a comprehensive coverage from industrial end-effector to digital production equipment, digital factory overall solutions, exoskeleton robots for rehabilitation, education and training and other fields.
On September 21, 2022, the company held its first extraordinary general meeting of board directors, senior executives and shareholders, marking its transformation from a limited company to a joint stock company. This lays the foundation for SRT to land on the capital market.
Going forward, SRT plans to take advantage of its independent R&D innovation to continue to grow its core technology and enable the automation upgrade of traditional manufacturing.
If you are interested in the above products, please contact us for a consultation.
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