This Is Plastics: The Bionic Person: The Next Frontier


The Bionic Person: The Next Frontier

Plastics have played a vital role in developing society and supporting human innovation.


For decades, plastics have played a vital role in developing society and supporting human innovation. With the technological advancements of robotics in automation, microchips and artificial organs, plastics will be crucial to the next frontier of human innovation.  

Plastic is ushering in a new age of robotics and automation

Advancements in mechanics have created a future where humans and robots can work alongside each other. Exoskeletons, which are made lightweight and durable with plastic materials, have already revolutionized how people work by creating safer environments and reducing strain and overwork injuries.

Collaborative robots or ‘cobots’ are yet another way plastic is improving worker safety. Cobots are complex machines, which look similar to jointed-arms, that work in tandem with their human counterparts and can relieve stress and offer support as needed. They can be optimized to a wide variety of more dangerous tasks, including handling objects that reach high temperatures and reaching work site areas where risk is highest. Cobots are being built with durable and lightweight plastic polymers, which form the “arm” and “joints”, that can be used without protective guarding alongside humans. These innovative machines are helping ensure that workers are safer and jobs can be done more efficiently and effectively.  

Cobots are also increasingly important to the plastics manufacturing process, automating repetitive non-ergonomic tasks that improve quality control and reduce worker idle time during plastic injection molding processes. This is a useful benefit in plastics manufacturing where a wide variety of processes can be automated, lowering the risk to human workers. In the next five years, the collaborative robot market is expected to grow from $1.2 billion in 2021 to a projected $10.5 billion by 2027. This shows just how lucrative and important these versatile machines are likely to continue to be in the future.

Microchips unlock another advancement in the technological revolution

The integration of humans and technology is on the horizon with the blending of electronics with the body. Plastic microchips could be the future of human-friendly automation, foreshadowing a cybernetic future where the integration of man and technology allows us to do everything from unlock doors, make purchases and track vitals.

Chip designer ARM has created a prototype plastic microchip that uses plastic instead of silicon and can be integrated with almost anything. Although very nascent technology, plastic chips could increase the availability of advanced microchips, necessary for all modern electronics such as cellphones, and create a new era of connected devices.

Beyond implementing microchips, the future of plastics will also include growing the artificial intelligence sector (AI). AI will lead society into the next frontier by unlocking unparalleled productivity and energy efficiency in plastic plants. Both AI and plastic are ubiquitous parts of human existence, and as technology continues to evolve, the two will only further complement each other to improve the health and longevity of humans.

Artificial organs are advanced and becoming more accessible due to plastics

Plastics technology is also helping to democratize healthcare, the most prominent example being the introduction of plastic-based artificial organs. Artificial organs have the power to revolutionize healthcare. For example, with a global rise in end-stage renal disease cases, artificial kidneys could potentially become a lifesaving tool, allowing millions to lead healthy lives without dialysis or waiting on live organ transplants. Polymers, nanocomposites and ceramic biomaterials are expected to be the most important materials integrated into artificial organ production.

It is estimated that the artificial organs market could eclipse $30.9 billion by 2025 and grow exponentially more in the years to come, buoyed by the cost-effectiveness and biocompatibility of plastic polymers and technological advancements in 3D bioprinting. 3D printing, which is a zero-waste manufacturing process, would only further improve plastic’s sustainability across multiple applications.

Plastics have played a crucial role in the advancements in science and technology since their invention. Even now, it continues to lead humans into a new age with the rise of robotics in automation, microchips, and artificial organs. The future integration of humans and technology will increase access and affordability in healthcare and make workplaces safer, demonstrating yet again, the importance and necessity of plastic.

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