Manufacturing - Overview - Market Text

Nanomanufacturing can be looked upon as the building block for high performance products associated with a wide range of industries such as aerospace and defence, automotive and transportation, information and communication technologies, energy and healthcare. In order to realise the advantages of nanomanufacturing and apply the technologies to support those industries, an economy of scale is needed in order to address national and global industry requirements. The transition of advanced nanotechnology from the laboratory to high-volume production depends on appropriate product design, manufacturing process integration, supply chain management, and appropriate safety precautions in handling. Benefits that could accrue from the integration of nanotechnology into high added-value products include growth in the materials supply chain, nano-intermediates, equipment, and instrumentation markets as the technologies gets gradually merged in the established infrastructure, as well as a broad range of employment opportunities.

The commercial applications of nanotechnology identified in the NanoData project in the field of manufacturing include nanotools (such as nano-manipulators, near-field optical microscopes, nanomachining tools and nanolithography tools) and nanomaterials (such as solid nanoparticles, nanostructured monolithics, nanocomposites, nanoscale thin films and graphene). The data below on market values and forecasts has been gathered in part from existing reports and in part from additional work.

An article, by Piccinno et al (2012) presents first estimates of production quantities of engineered nanomaterials in Europe, based on a survey sent to companies producing and using engineered nanomaterials (see table below). The survey was sent to 239 recipients, of whom 46 answered the survey (45 from Europe and 1 from the USA). Most replies came from manufacturers (23), followed by downstream users (9) and others involved in nanotechnology (14). The estimations of the production and utilisation quantities of ten nanomaterials worldwide and in Europe are presented in the table below. The authors also included insights from the literature of production worldwide, in Europe, in the US and in Switzerland for comparison. The estimates are of actual production amounts not production capacities.

The responses for several materials differ substantially and should be treated with caution. One reason for this is that, for some materials (e.g. nano-SiO2 and nano-TiO2), not all companies would name them nano as they can easily agglomerate into larger particles. Moreover, at the time of the survey, a precise definition and measurement were unavailable and some materials have been produced for many decades, long before nanotechnology gained attention and therefore they are not always seen as nanomaterials.


Production / utilisation quantities of ten nanomaterials worldwide and in Europe (tonne/yr)Note: TiO2 = Titanium (IV) oxide; ZnO = zinc oxide; SiO2 = liquid glass; FeOx = iron oxide; AlOx = aluminium oxide; CeOx = cerium oxide; CNT = carbon nanotubes; Ag: silver. Source: Piccino et al. (2012) Industrial production quantities and uses of ten engineered nanomaterials in Europe and the world, Journal of Nanoparticle Research (2012) 14:1109


According to Charitidis et al (2014), fullerenes are already being produced in tonnes per year, mainly via the gas combustion method. The first commercial usage of fullerenes was reported in 2003 as a coating on bowling balls. The database counts 122 fullerene products and 24 companies, of which 11 are based in the USA. The prices for fullerenes are relatively high and unit sales sizes are relatively small. Carbon nanotubes are mainly produced by chemical vapour deposition because of the relative ease of scale-up. However, higher yields often result in lower purity.

The worldwide production of carbon nanotubes is estimated to be approximately 300 tonnes per year. There are two main types of carbon nanotubes: single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). SWCNTs require tighter process control and are therefore more expensive. There are several companies worldwide producing carbon nanofibres (Charitidis et al, 2014). The database mentions 77 companies supplying carbon nanotubes, but in an article (2011) on carbon nanotubes reported that there were more than 100 companies worldwide manufacturing carbon nanotubes and that the figure was expected to double within five years1. Two-thirds of production was identified as being by four large-scale manufacturers. In the article, it is also mentioned that the production capacity of CNTs had increased significantly to hundreds of tonnes per year. In 2010 only 25% of the global capacity was actually produced. This huge gap between supply and demand was due to low volume utilisation of CNTs by end-users, but demand was expected to grow.

Metallic nanoparticles, especially the non-precious metals, can be produced via various methods such as sonochemical reduction, pulsed laser ablation, plasma, chemical vapour deposition or mechano-chemical and thermo-mechanical processes, but gold and silver nanoparticles can only be synthesised by liquid phase methods. Gold nanoparticles are widely available in different forms such as organic gold, redispersable powders, silica coated gold nanoparticles etc. Silver nanoparticles are also widely available (Charitidis et al, 2014).

The most commonly used methods to produce metal oxides are vapour phase, but the hydrothermal techniques is increasingly being used as it results in higher yields and speed of production, ease of operation, lower costs with higher purity and homogeneity. About 8o% of the nanopowder market in 2009 was metal oxides (Charitidis, et al. 2014).

The table below shows market values for nanotechnology manufacturing processes.

  Market value USD (year specified) Future market value USD (year specified) CAGR
Physical processes 4.2bn (2011) 7.5bn (2016) 12%
Chemical processes 5.1bn (2011) 7.4bn (2016) 8%
Thermal spraying 0.9bn (2011) 1.3bn (2016) 8%
Physical vapour deposition 208.4m (2011) 294.6m (2016) 7%
Electron beam lithography systems 90m (2013) n/a n/a
Molecular beam deposition equipment 225m (2013) n/a n/a



Market data based on reports by BCC Research indicate that global sales for nanotechnology products in the manufacturing sector were estimated at USD 22.8 billion in 2013 and USD 64 billion in 2019. Much of the forecast growth in nanotools (to USD 11.3 billion in 2019) and in nanomaterials (to USD 52.7 billion in 2019) is expected to be driven by nanomaterials. Shares of nanotools and nanomaterials are expected to remain almost stable from 2013 to 2019. The nanomaterials share of the market is forecast to remain close to 80 % (at USD 64 billion in 2019) and the nanotools share close to 20%.