Link-touch (蓝点触控), a startup making force control sensors and sanding robots, has closed a pre-Series A round of funding valued at tens of millions of yuan, invested solely by ZGC Co-innovation Fund.
Proceeds from this round will go toward the R&D of new products and efforts to bolster mass delivery capacity.
Founded in 2019 in Beijing, Link-touch specializes in the manufacturing of force control censors and flexible polishing and sanding robots.
Force control sensors are a critical part of general-purpose robot as well as complex use cases involving industrial robots such as sanding and assembly.
“Currently, the robotic industry has solved the issue of agility of robotic arms,” said Liu Wuyue, founder and CEO of Link-touch. “The core technologies of next-gen robotics will be in visual and force sensing.”
The startup claims to have made significant inroads in product, technology and market expansion since 2020, when it completed its angel funding round.
Product-wise, Link-touch focuses on manufacturing and providing force sensors to robotic companies.
Its product line now comprises three series, including ST™ 6D force sensors for cobot arm, EQ™ 6D force sensors for industrial robotic arm, Joint™ torque sensor for cobot arm joints, as well as a software development kit.
Based on these innovations, the firm has built a general-purpose robotic platform for flexible force control, meant for application scenarios including sanding, polishing, grinding, deburring, assembly, and other specialized operations.
In particular, Link-touch has a sizeable footprint in the segments of sanding and deburring, helping manufacturers of medical and bath products optimize their processes.
By moving down the value chain into specific use cases, the company not just broadened its market reach and client base, but also accumulated more industrial know-how essential to product and technological iteration.
Another motivation for this foray is that robotic parts like force sensors carry a relatively low price, posing a low market ceiling.
After three years of R&D work, Link-touch ventured beyond medical equipment and plumbing fixtures into industrial and airspace sectors, supplying them with flexible force control sanding and deburring workstations.
A study by chyxx.com, a market intelligence provider, indicates that China’s market for polishing and sanding robots grew 18.7% year on year in 2022 to 9.61 billion yuan.
According to Link-touch, the market is still in its infancy, and therefore its size could jump to 100 billion yuan given the vast potential yet to be unlocked by replacement of equipment.
On the supply side, overseas manufacturers still dominate the market, with domestic peers struggling to provide homegrown variants.
The chyxx.com study points out that the installed capacity of imported sanding robots represents 55.9% of the total.
But the figure has been declining over the years due to the rise of domestic competitors on the back of cost advantages, R&D innovations and more competitive products.