10.6.4.3 Boundary Conditions
10.6.4.3 Boundary Conditions
The boundary conditions include:
1. Technical limitations of nanotechnology – State of the art of the technology
2. Cost - production costs increase
3. Lack of knowledge about nanotechnology opportunities and scepticism about their benefits
The technical limitations include: issues with scale-up of the process; reproducibility of results; availability of raw materials; and production of materials with long lasting effects. To overcome these limitations it is neccessary to invest in R&D, to create prototypes, and to develop large-scale processes. Other concerns of the textile industry include low compatibility of new production processes with current production processes and the insufficient production capacity of the new production methods.
Another key limitation for a wider use of nanotechnology is related to the production costs of nanotechnology-enabled products. Nanotechnology production costs are higher than traditional production costs. These high costs are not only related to the investment on (expensive) equipment, but also to the hiring of expertise, (nanotech experienced resources, capable to operate the equipment) and use of expensive raw materials for example. Despite sports/outdoor and medical textiles being less sensitive to the increase of cost than the clothing sector, the production costs remains as one of the most important factor avoiding a wider use of nanotechnology.
Finally, the lack of knowledge about the technology and the processes results into a limitation of further use of nanotech processes in the textile industry. Most of the companies (end-users) are aware of the existence of nanotechnology and their potential, but they still have doubts about how this technology can be implemented in their products/processes and whether the required investment will be recouped. Some leading sources from the textile nanotech sector have stated that people tend to associate nanotechnology to nanoparticles and complex technology processes, assuming that it would be very difficult to implement this new technology into their production lines and that it would require a large investment in expertise and machinery. However, reality shows that when the results are presented and production processes are explained in detail, this initial hesitation disappears.
Amongst the measures being taken in order to overcome the insecurity in utilising nanotechnologies, due to advertising messages insinuating nanotechnology is not healthy, could be labelling. However, at the moment, there is not a generally accepted regulation for it at European level. In Germany the Hohenstein Institutes in conjunction with Nanomat have created a standard to enhance the brand value and facilitate the access of new products to the market (the so called Hohenstein Quality label for Nanotechnology). Product labels convey certain quality properties to consumers as breathability, skin compatibility, abrasion resistance and wash resistance, in addition to evaluation of the nanostructure and its function. Furthermore, the Hohenstein Quality Label provides the opportunity to stand out from all the textiles that claim to be “nano” and are not .
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