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Self HealINg soft materials for susTainable prOducts

Objective

The SHINTO project aims to disrupt the soft robotics market by creating a new market for self-healing structural components, introducing autonomous damage detection and healing in intelligent soft robots. The current field is driven by a high adoption of soft grippers that ensure safe operation for collaborative robots in manufacturing and delicate manipulation in agrifood and warehousing. However, these expensive and mostly non-recyclable soft robots have limited lifetimes due to their vulnerability to damage. In symbiosis, VUB-research groups FYSC and Brubotics have been building soft robots out of self-healing materials that fully recover functional material properties and resulting performances after healing incurred damage. This extends the robots service lifetime and raises their reliability and sustainability, which in combination with their inherent recyclability contributes to economic benefits and the EU Green Deal. In SHINTO, technological breakthroughs will mature beyond lab demonstrators over pilot scale towards commercial viability through synergistic advances in (patented) self-healing polymers, manufacturing, application validation and business development. The team combines profound knowledge of materials and robotics scientists with business experts to establish a new deep tech company, marketing next generation self-healing grippers as semi-finished goods. The beach-head strategy targets existing soft robotics markets based on confirmed product-market fits. Existing feedback loops with key industrial partners, field tests and life cycle assessment allow to cocreate the required quality and TRL for business transition, while limiting business risk to a niche market. Parallel, continuous market analysis enables updating/expanding requirements and extending to broader (non-)robotic markets. The soft robotics market is expected to grow at 40%/y to $6.3B by 2027, while market fits beyond this niche are identified, e.g. the tire market at $174B in 2028.

Coordinator

VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT BRUSSEL
Net EU contribution
€ 2 488 500,00
Address
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel
Belgium

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Region
Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/ Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Arr. de Bruxelles-Capitale/Arr. Brussel-Hoofdstad
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00