Traceability-The Key to Unlocking Nanotechnology's Potential in the Manufacturing Industry.

AuthorHughes, Mark

The concept of nanotechnology-the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale-has been described as the 'sixth revolutionary technology' disrupting our modern world.

Following the application of the first nano-production technologies in the semiconductor fabrication field back in the late 1990s, the past decade has witnessed the fast-paced commercialisation of products based on advancements in nanoscale technologies. Today, nanotechnology applications are being utilised to great effect in a range of fields extending from consumer electronics to bio tech, cosmetics, and clothing.

Increasingly viewed as a key driver for transformation across a multitude of use-cases, working with nanoparticles--between a scale of just 1-100 nanometres--enables manufacturers to unlock enhanced or unique, physical, chemical or biological properties. Alongside unlocking new innovations, the technology is set to make it more economical to produce superior products composed of novel materials that have remarkable properties.

Here, we take a look into the future of nanotechnology, the benefits it holds for the manufacturing sector, and the barriers that must be overcome to unlock its potential.

Manufacturing at nanoscale.

From fully recyclable crisp packets to targeted medicines with minimised side-effects, and car engines that produce cleaner exhaust fumes, a number of manufacturing sectors--including healthcare, automotive, packaging, and food production--are already taking advantage of nanotechnology. Just last year, researchers were able to create a nanoparticle influenza vaccine, whilst others used a 'hierarchically nanostructured gel' to exploit solar energy to purify water at a record rate.

By introducing improved mechanical properties within existing materials, nanomaterials will be essential to manufacturers when developing more efficient and usable products. In aerospace, for example, materials with increased stiffness and reduced weight will be favoured over heavier but weaker structures. Nanomaterials will enable manufacturers to raise future developments and innovation to a new level, making products faster, lighter, cheaper, and easier to manufacture.

Future developments in nanotechnology will help manufacturers improve efficiency in a number of operations, from design, processing, and packaging, through to transportation of goods. This could also help manufacturers reduce their environmental impact by saving raw...

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