Wacker plans to open US printing lab for silicone rubber
The Munich-based German chemical company Wacker Chemie AG is currently expanding its Aceo 3D printing services for silicone rubber and announced the opening of a US-based printing lab by year end 2018.
The facility, which will be located at Wacker’s R&D centre for silicones in Ann Arbor, MI, USA, is the company’s first regional 3D printing lab outside of Germany. Complementing the Aceo Campus in Burghausen, Germany, the lab will serve the growing demand for additive manufacturing solutions in North America. Wacker has earmarked a single digit million US-Dollar amount for the investment.
The new lab will be equipped with two 3D printers, each of which will be able to process a broad range of silicone rubber with different Shore A hardnesses and in varying colours, including special media resistant FVMQ grades. Aceo’s additive manufacturing technology for silicone elastomers enables new product designs and complex geometries for rapid prototyping purposes as well as serial manufacturing and cost-efficient production of replacement parts.
For Bernd Pachaly, head of the Aceo 3D printing project at Wacker, the new lab is a major milestone in globally expanding this technology: “In general, North America is the largest and most dynamic market for 3D printing. With our new lab, prospective partners will obtain local access to the compelling possibilities of 3D printing with liquid silicone rubber.”
While Aceo will continue to produce and deliver printed silicone components from its production facility in Burghausen, Germany, the new lab in Ann Arbor will offer technical service and advice to partners and customers throughout North America, thus providing local hands-on experience with Wacker’s 3D printing technology. “Right from the start, we will be engaged in projects involving medical devices and components needed for health care, transportation, aerospace and electronics, all of which are key industry segments, particularly for silicone-based products,” explained Pachaly. “Establishing a regional lab will support expansion of Aceo’s footprint in the US and furthers Wacker’s global service network for silicone rubber 3D printing solutions.”
According to Ian Moore, Vice President Wacker Silicones at Wacker Chemical Corporation in Adrian, MI, USA, locating the Aceo 3D printing lab at the company’s R&D facility for silicones in Ann Arbor complements the company’s strategic business model of being close to its customers and serving regional market trends. “Our Innovation Center is focused on developing advanced and forward-looking solutions that support regional trends which can be quickly brought to market. Our team of scientists and highly specialised experts in the field of silicones and 3D printing will be able to offer our business partners valuable technical cooperation and services.”