As packaging gets more high-tech, it's not just the machines that are evolving. Materials are racing to the cutting edge as well, and they don't get much more edgy than graphene – which has applications that make it ideal for Industry 4.0.
Because graphene has a high electrical conductivity, it can be used in smart IIoT manufacturing setups. “One thing you can do is incorporate it into tools, dies and robots to give them better sensor capabilities – the ability to measure the entire body of a robot rather than just point sensors, for example,” says Phillip Aitchison, vice-president of research and development at graphene manufacturer Imagine Intelligent Materials.
It’s not just robots, however: graphene can also be used for smart materials, incorporating sensing into the packaging itself, says Aitchison. “The raw material itself will behave like sensors and communication devices, so you put raw material in one end and it’s spitting feedback back to you.
“This shifts manufacturing from machines that know what they’re doing to materials that know what’s being done to them,” he says.