News and Events

The robotics industry is constantly changing and evolving. New robotics technologies and developments in automation are quickly creating exciting career opportunities at every education level – from micro-credentials to PhDs. Here is where you can learn more about robotics careers in manufacturing and how these new technologies are benefiting workers


What Are Soft Robotics?

June 29, 2022

When you think of today's robots, especially in a manufacturing setting, you probably imagine the traditional gigantic industrial robots and smaller collaborative robots. That's largely accurate. Robots are tough and metallic and built to do the heavy lifting.

However, there's a new kind of robotics that's emerging called "soft robotics." In this case, the name is pretty accurate. Soft robotics is a field that's focused on making, well, softer and more flexible robots.

Let's take a closer look at what exactly soft robots are and how they're affecting robotics as a whole.

What Is a Soft Robot?

A soft robot is, quite simply, a robot that's made out of softer materials. This could be anything from silicone to fabric or even paper. These robots are often made using moldable materials and/or flexible electronics.

Soft robotics are a relatively new thing,  but they're already being used in a number of different fields. One of the most common applications for soft robotics is in rehabilitation and prosthetics. That's because soft robotics can more easily replicate human movement and touch.

Other applications for soft robots include:

  • Food handling
  • Pick-and-place tasks in manufacturing
  • Underwater exploration

As you can see, there are a lot of potential uses for these types of robots. And because they're still relatively newer, we're likely to see even more uses for them in the future.

How Are Soft Robots Made?

Soft robots are made using a variety of methods. The most common method is molding. This involves creating a negative mold of the desired shape and then filling that mold with a soft material.

Another common method is using pneumatic actuators. This involves inflating and deflating chambers within the robot to create movement. This is often used in combination with other methods, such as molding, to create more complex shapes and movements.

Finally, some soft robots are made using dielectric elastomers. This involves applying an electric field to a piece of elastic material, which then changes shape. This method is often used to create grippers for pick-and-place tasks.

What Are the Benefits of Soft Robotics?

There are a number of benefits that come with using soft robotics. One of the most obvious benefits is that they're much safer than traditional robots. That's because they're made out of softer materials, which means they're less likely to cause injury if they come into contact with a human.

For example,  imagine a traditional robot arm moving at high speeds. If that arm were to come into contact with a human, it could cause serious injury. However, the same is not true for a soft robot. Because they're made out of softer materials, they're much less likely to cause harm if they come into contact with someone.

The next benefit of soft robotics is that they're more adaptable than traditional robots. That's because they can change shape and size more easily. This means that they can be used in a wider variety of applications.

Soft robots are also more adept at handling delicate tasks. This is made possible by the way in which they can more easily replicate the movement of human hands and fingers. That dexterity makes them ideal for tasks such as handling food or picking up small objects.

Finally, soft robotics are often cheaper to produce than traditional robots. That's because the materials used to make them are often less expensive than the metals and plastics used in traditional robots.

A Career In Robotics Is Closer Than You Think

If learning about things like soft robotics is interesting to you, then maybe it's time to consider a career in robotics.

Many people are under the impression that it takes years and years of schooling and expensive degrees to work with robots. The truth is that it doesn't take as long as you might believe.

An entry level robotics job as a robotics technician generally only requires a 2-year degree or a trade school certification. To make it even easier, we've put together a database of thousands of robotics programs around the country, so you'll be sure to find one that suits you. Just use the search tool on the homepage to find a program that's close to your location, and the rest is up to you.

There are a lot more exciting things to learn about robotics, so if soft robots are interesting to you, then a career in robotics should be a hard yes.


View More News & Events is processing and loading the page