Will Nanotechnology Bring Lower Costs to the Consumer?
The realm of nanotech holds great promise as well as risks for our future, as it sets out to assemble on the molecular and atomic levels. Relying on incredible engineering feats.
But introducing this into the state of reality, as with many things, looms the big cost question.
If nanotechnology does in fact prove to become an era unto itself, as indicated by Eric Drexler in his "Engines of Creation", there will be substantial upfront R & D costs as expected by any new technology intensive movement Creative ways around this cost challenge are what will bring its products it initially makes into the home. Although bypassing some or much of the labor involved at the same time. Which might also be seen as a cost saving advantage against competing products
Achieving economies that are practical will take breakthroughs. Not via the "molecular manipulator arm" acting more or less solely, but rather in ways of duplicating these invisible efforts. Occurring in 2007 one such method has forged the technology ahead. Coming out of the EU, it involves a patterning device to be used for producing electronics and biomaterials, and it might well result in potentially more efficient solar cells. All of which has taken place within the broader nanopatterning field.
However goods like computers, clothing, even food may become nano-made. With greater efficiency and with much reduced waste (while expelling an awful lot of heat in the process). And as manufacturing by nanotech becomes more localized, requiring fewer and fewer workers, its output will saturate more more localized conditions, making more diverse products from base materials. Another cost advantage, in our eyes.
Given the down to earth scenario where there doesn't end up being an"assembler in every home" to respond to much of our desires, there still are products that are bound to become less expensive. The real obstacles however are getting to that day, and without major hazard -- since many things high tech can be applied just as well toward malevolent goals.
Within the realm of health, and treatment of disease, nanotech aims at self-repair devices to potentially reduce treatment expenses and time spent in the hospital. In turn, reducing medical insurance coverage costs assuming that this does manage to effectively translate.
EU funded project develops cost effective nanotechnology imprinting device