Wacker to open 3D printing lab for silicone rubber in US

September 25, 2018

3D-printingGerman chemical group Wacker says it is expanding its ACEO 3D printing services for silicone rubber and will open a US-based printing lab later this year. The facility, which will be located at Wackers’s R&D centre for silicones in Ann Arbor (MI), 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. The Munich-headquartered firm 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.

According to Wacker, ACEO’s additive manufacturing technology for silicone elastomers enables unprecedented product designs and complex geometries for rapid prototyping purposes as well as serial manufacturing and cost-efficient production of replacement parts.

Bernd Pachaly, Head of the ACEO 3D printing project at Wacker, said, “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 3D printing  technology.

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“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,” Pachaly  explains.

When it launched it, Wacker’s 3D printing technology ACEO was the world’s first industrial-scale technology for the additive manufacturing of liquid silicone rubber components. The unique drop-on-demand technology allows design freedom and the printing of highly functional parts while  maintaining the outstanding properties of silicone rubber such as temperature and radiation resistance or biocompatibility.

Printed silicone rubber components can be used in a wide range of applications and in several key industries such as the automotive, aerospace & aviation, healthcare and equipment industry as well as in mechanical engineering.

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