Wacker sets up first LSR 3D printing lab in US

German chemical firm Wacker is launching its first US-based Aceo open print lab. Aceo is said to be the world’s first industrial-scale technology for the additive manufacturing of liquid silicone rubber (LSR) components. The new facility, located at Wacker’s Silicone R&D facility in Ann Arbor, MI, is equipped with 3D printers able to process a broad range of silicone rubber with different Shore A hardnesses and in varying colours.

Following the success of the Aceo lab in Burghausen, Germany, and the high demand for additive manufacturing solutions in North America, the print lab will offer first-hand tutorials and hands-on training allowing customers to experience 3D printing with silicone rubber, said the firm.

“We are pleased to announce another milestone in Aceo’s history with the launch of the Open Print Lab in Ann Arbor,” says Dr. Bernd Pachaly, Head of Project 3D Printing at Wacker Silicones. “North America is one of the leading markets in additive manufacturing. Our new facility brings 3D printing with silicones much closer to potential customers in the region.”

In 2017, Wacker set up its first Aceo lab in Burghausen. It helps customers understand how 3D printing with silicones matches their needs by offering first-hand experience.

Wacker introduced the world’s first 3D printing web shop in 2016, making Aceo technology and services available to customers worldwide. However, education about a pioneering technology such as Aceo needs a local presence.

“Our business partners in the region want to understand how their ideas and products can be brought to market with our support. Wacker’s Silicone R&D Centre in Ann Arbor was designed to develop advanced and forward-looking solutions for silicones. With the new Open Print Lab we can significantly expand our local portfolio and contribute to the growing demand of the market,” says Ian Moore, Vice President at Wacker Chemical Corporation in Adrian (MI).

The new Open Print Lab is Fundamental for product research for construction applications and consumer care.

The 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. Aceo’s unique additive manufacturing technology for silicone elastomers enables product designs and complex geometries for rapid prototyping purposes. It is also suitable for serial manufacturing and cost-efficient production of replacement parts.

Wacker says it will also offer workshops open to small groups.