The robot end effector market is expected to grow from USD 1.9 billion in 2021 to USD 4.4 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 18.8% during the forecast period.
Steady deployment of robots in manufacturing industries is facilitating the growth robot end effector market. This scenario is observed in the consumer goods industry, specifically packaging, where the shape, size, surface, or weight of the packaging is constantly changing. This modularity ensures that the grippers do not have to be changed from time to time, thereby reducing the cost of redesigning and downtime associated with its change and replacement. Modularity can be seen in other forms as well, where the end effector components such as mounts and accessories can be quickly swapped without drilling or welding.
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Advances in soft robotics, coupled with the increasing need to handle delicate items, have enabled rapid progress in soft grippers. Unlike traditional grippers that are made of rigid materials, these end effectors are fabricated from soft and flexible components. Earlier, most end effectors were able to only manipulate objects of fixed size and shape. However, industry requirements are slowly shifting toward the use of components that can grasp and manipulate a large variety of objects. Due to the material softness of the gripper arms, they can be used for sensitive applications such as in the food & beverage or glass manufacturing industries that can handle objects without damaging them. Fruits or vegetables have varying sizes, making soft grippers ideal due to their consistent clamping force irrespective of slight differences in size and shape. Soft grippers are mainly adopted by the food & beverage industry, one of the fastest-growing clients for soft grippers. Hence, the high penetration rate of automation in the food & beverage industry is expected to stimulate the adoption of soft grippers in the next 4 to 5 years.
The automotive industry to holds the largest share of end effector market for the forecast period in terms of value as well as in terms of volume. The automotive industry is one of the biggest drivers of the robot end effector market due to increasing automation in manufacturing and assembly; though it is expected to maintain the largest market share. The recent developments in collaborative robots, collaborative end effectors, and their application in the automotive industry are responsible for this growth. The automotive companies are keen toward replacing their traditional robots with cobots in order to reduce the time spent on operations. Moreover, the initiative by governments in the APAC regions including direct foreign investments (FDIs) is going to serve APAC as a automation hub for manufacturing and assembly in automotive industry which is further expected to fuel the demand of robot end effectors.
The grippers segment is projected to be thefastest-growing end effector type. The market for grippers is largely driven by its handling application in a wide range of workpieces considering their various shapes and size; the use of 3D printing technology such as fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing, and their increasing applications in healthcare industries such as providing medications to COVID-19 patients without human contact to control the spread of virus increased and other concerns regarding safety. Additionally, the increasing application of soft grippers and vacuum grippers in the pharmaceutical & food industry would present several growth opportunities to players operating in the gripper segment.
Robot end effectors used for handling operations, such as gripping and palletizing, are projected to account for the largest share in terms of value during the forecast period. This is due to continuous development in gripper technology such as soft grippers and vacuum grippers that have enormous handling applications in food & beverage where workpieces are delicate and require precise handling with little pressure. The market for handling application is further projected to grow at a significant rate and occupy ~68% of the shares by 2026. As the trend of miniaturization of electronic components is expected to penetrate further during the next 5 years, compact grippers and vacuum cups would prove to be more suitable for this application. Hence, this is expected to increase the scope for handling application market of robot end effectors for the existing companies and new entrants.
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In terms of value, APAC is expected to dominate the market by capturing a share of nearly 60% by 2026. The electrical and electronics industry in APAC region is projected to serve as the largest market for the robot end effectors around the globe with a market share of 63% in terms of value, by 2026. China and South Korea are one the of largest manufacturers and assemblers of electronics components and devices. The electrical and electronics industry is the most important driver for robot end effectors, owing to the rising demand for electronic products around the world. Components such as computer chips, batteries, and displays that are small and sensitive need to be handled with high speed and high precision. In developing countries, the food & packaging industry has not yet reached maturity, which represents an opportunity for the growth of the robot end effector market. Large e-retailers are also expected to use end effectors for warehousing on a large scale in the following years. APAC is projected to continue to witness the highest growth rate and market share throughout the forecast period compared to other regions.