Nanotechnology has emerged as a key driver for transformation in the manufacturing industry. Generally referred to as the ‘sixth revolutionary technology’, it is already reaching advancements in various fields including, biotech, consumer electronics, clothing, and cosmetics.
The use of nanoparticles enables manufacturers to unlock enhanced or unique, physical, chemical, or biological properties, giving them the opportunity to produce superior products more economically.
From fully recyclable packets to targeted medicine with minimized side effects, the use cases for operating at nanoscale vary a lot. Car engines that send out cleaner exhaust fumes, several industrial sectors including healthcare, automotive, packaging, and food production are already making profits from nanotechnology. Taking the case of last year, the researchers were able to create a nanoparticle influenza vaccine, while others used a ‘hierarchically nanostructured gel’ to utilize solar energy to purify water at a record rate.
Introduction of improved mechanical properties within existing materials, nanomaterials will assist manufacturers in developing future products, take innovation to a new level, making products lighter, faster, cheaper and easier to manufacture. For instance, in aerospace, materials with better rigidity and lesser weight will be preferred over weaker and heavier structures.
Further developments in nanotechnology will allow manufacturers to enhance efficiency in a number of operations, from design, processing, and packaging, through to transportation of goods.
As climate change concerns are on the rise these days, it could help manufacturers cut down their environmental emissions by saving raw materials, energy, and water, while reducing greenhouse gases and hazardous wastes.
It will also put manufacturing firms at the front in the competition, along with providing a more sustainable future. Embracing nanotechnology manufacturing, the industry will continue to see huge developments in the technology itself which is currently in its infancy.
On the other hand, despite several use cases, there remains a lot to learn about the long-term impact of manipulating materials at nanoscale. The fact that it’s easily inhaled, raises concerns about the health effects of nanoparticles and nanofibres which insist upon tighter regulation over nanotechnology.
Meanwhile, lack of knowledge regarding the long-term environmental side effects of exposure to engineered nanomaterials means regulatory regimes currently in process are set to intensify around the globe.
The bacteriostatic silver nanoparticles used in socks to reduce foot odour can enter the wastewater stream when washed and could possibly destroy beneficial bacteria that are essential for our natural ecosystems, farms, and waste treatment processes. Benefitting from easier data retrieval and accuracy, businesses will be able to track regulatory compliance, while diversifying the manufacturing of goods inside the industry.
With nanotechnology continuously evolving, enterprise resource planning software (ERP) will be essential to ensure the traceability and quality control of products. By implementing a modern industry-specific ERP system within the base of the factory, businesses will be able to have control over all operations, taking care of consumer and workforce safety.