Wacker to expand silicones production to Czech Republic

Wacker to expand silicones production to Czech RepublicGerman silicones supplier Wacker Chemie says it intends to further expand its silicone specialty business and is reorganising its production facilities in Europe. For example, a new production site for silicones is to be built in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. The main drivers of this expansion are megatrends such as electromobility and renewable energies, for which silicones from Wacker are needed, it adds. Production is expected to start at the end of 2025. In the first step, the group would create up to 200 jobs. The investment volume is in the low three-digit million euro range.

The new production facility in Karlovy Vary is intended to complement Wacker’s existing German sites in Burghausen and Nünchritz, as well as the Pilsen site, which specialises in electromobility.

“Karlovy Vary will become an important pillar for our silicone activities in Europe, especially in the production of tailor-made silicone compounds. In this way, we are creating important prerequisites for further optimising our production processes and positioning ourselves even more flexibly in the network of four locations. Our customers benefit from specific product solutions – reliable, highly efficient and of the highest quality,” says Christian Kirsten, member of the Wacker Executive Board.

The main drivers for the silicone business are megatrends such as electromobility, renewable energies and the expansion of power grids. “Our silicone rubbers are in demand in all major growth markets,” says Kirsten. “Tailor-made silicone elastomers are particularly needed where conventional materials cannot or can no longer meet the high and constantly increasing requirements. In order to be able to meet the increasing demand for such solutions in the long term, we must create the basis for them now.”

The focus of the new site in Karlovy Vary will be on the production of room-temperature curing specialty silicones. Production is scheduled to start at the end of 2025. Later on, high-temperature curing silicone compounds will also be produced there.

Wacker says it intends to invest a total sum in the low three-digit million euro range and create around 200 jobs by 2028. Further personnel requirements in the following years cannot be ruled out. When fully operational, Karlovy Vary will be able to deliver more than 20,000 tons of customised silicones per year.

The raw materials required for production – polymers, fillers and additives – are to be delivered from Burghausen and mixed into ready-to-use silicones, so-called compounds, in Karlovy Vary.

“By pooling our compound production capacities in Karlovy Vary, we will be able to make even better use of our fully continuous facilities in Burghausen, further increase our efficiency and further accelerate the planned automation of our processes,” emphasises Thomas Koini, head of Wacker Silicones.

“In the future, our site in Pilsen will focus on the growing market for silicone gels and thermally conductive silicones. Such products are in high demand, especially in electromobility. This means that our existing sites will also benefit from the new production concept.”

To build the new site in Karlovy Vary, Wacker is collaborating with US real estate developer Panattoni. Work on the development of the site will begin shortly. Construction work on the building is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2024, subject to regulatory approval.

The owner of the 23,000 sq m plot and the future production building on the outskirts of Karlovy Vary is the Czech real estate group Accolade.