Nanotechnology is an emerging field that’s ripe with business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Some scientists and business leaders say nanotechnology is about to usher in the next big industrial revolution and forever change the way products are manufactured. Business owners who are intimidated will find themselves at a disadvantage, while pioneering entrepreneurs who utilize nanotechnology early on will find they have the upper hand.
Nanotechnology is a way to manufacture products that are harder, lighter, stronger, cleaner, and less expensive, by manipulating the atoms and molecules of matter. More than 800 products are currently produced with nanotechnology and more are hitting the market every week in a broad range of industries, including cosmetics, food, clothing, sporting goods, toys, cleaning products, appliances, and computers. In only two short years, the number of nano-enabled products produced around the world grew by nearly 279 percent. For more information, read Understanding Nanotechnology.
For the average business owner, understanding nanotechnology can be daunting, but you don’t need a science degree to start using it; you only need a basic understanding of what it is.
Can your business benefit from nanotechnology? The following industries are currently using nanotechnology and may give you ideas for opportunities available for you to start incorporating this innovative technology into your own products.
Health and Fitness
Health and fitness is currently the largest main category of nanotech and includes the subcategories of cosmetics, clothing, personal care, sunscreen, air filtration, and sporting goods. Clothing manufacturers can treat fabric with nano-engineered coatings to make them stainproof, static-free, moisture resistant, and antibacterial and antifungal. Similar coatings can be used on personal care items to ward off bacteria and fungi. Examples currently include bacteria-killing curling irons and nano silver-coated tools such as tweezers and nail clippers that are antibacterial. Cosmetics and sunscreen manufacturers can create superior products with nano-sized particles that penetrate the skin deeper and provide better protection. And the opportunities for advanced sporting goods may forever change the way they’re manufactured, thanks to carbon nanotubes that make everything from bicycle frames to tennis rackets lighter and stronger.
Food and Beverage
The opportunities for nano-enabled products in the food and beverage industry are numerous, yet the U.S. market currently has few products available, making it prime for pioneering entrepreneurs. Cooking utensils coated with nano silver make them resistant to bacteria and germs, and storage containers infused with nanoparticles prevent food from going bad and reduce bacteria by significant amounts. Food and supplement manufacturers should look to nanoparticles to better carry nutrients to cells and help the body digest and absorb them better.
Children’s products is another industry that’s wide open for pioneering entrepreneurs. Products that are treated with silver nanoparticles are proven to be extremely antibacterial, which makes them highly attractive to parents. Current examples include wet wipes that inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi and teddy bears and other toy animals with fur that is treated with special coatings to protect it from harmful bacteria, molds, and mites.
Home and Garden
Home and garden industries that currently have nano-enabled products include the subcategories of cleaning, home furnishings, construction materials, paint, luggage, luxury, and pets. All of the products in these categories offer superior antibacterial and germ-killing properties.
Electronics and Computers
Electronics and computers are continually getting smaller, so it’s no surprise that this industry can make huge advances with nanotechnology. Many consumer electronics such as MP3 players, digital cameras, TVs, video displays, mobile devices, and computer hardware already utilize nanotech components, and the possibilities in this industry will be endless as nanotechnology exploration continues.
Automotive and Appliances
Nano-enabled products in the automotive and appliance industries are currently very limited. Manufacturers are engineering exterior automotive parts and accessories that are lighter and stronger, and several watercraft companies are utilizing the same types of material. Large kitchen and laundry appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, are taking advantage of nanotechnology’s bacteria-killing abilities, with several major manufacturers already adopting it. Other categories within the appliance industry utilizing nanotechnology are batteries, heating, cooling, and air.