Back in the real world, India's Business Standard reports on the effect that nanotechnology is having on the Indian textile sector. "The textile mills have also hit the jackpot — they are selling large quantities of nano-treated fabrics, especially in the international market." While most of the manufactures are licensees of Nano-Tex, who are also planning an Indian R&D Centre, it does illustrate a very important point when it comes to bringing nanotechnology to market. The nanotechnology has to be compatible with existing processes.
The textile industry is characterized by large numbers of medium size firms who simply cannot afford to build brand new nanotechnology enabled manufacturing plants. Nanotreated materials must behave, from a process viewpoint, as similarly as possible to existing materials. Minor tweaks to the manufacturing process are acceptable, but you need a very strong value proposition (and a strong stomach for risk) to retool an entire business.
A word of caution however. While manufacturers may claim that "one out every of five shirts in the Arrow office range currently uses some nano-based chemical to make it stain-resistant and wrinkle-free," the very loose definitions of nanotechnology, especially when applied to marketing, makes it hard to distinguish "nano-based chemicals" from the traditional chemistry based type.
But what of Europe? While most of the action seems to be in the US and Asia, Swiss company Schoeller Textiles recently released plenty of nanotextiles using its NanoSphere Coatings in its 2005 range, including stain resistant chairsPosted by Cientifica at April 15, 2004 09:55 AM | TrackBack