Henkel to open multi million euro 3D printing facility in Ireland

German chemical giant and consumer goods company Henkel will be launching a multi million euro 3D printing facility in Tallaght, Ireland, a location chosen for its proximity to medical technology firms and academic excellence in the area.

Details of the forthcoming operation have been revealed by Henkel technology centre director Dr. Matthew Holloway, who believes that 3D printing will be “a significant disruptor to future manufacturing methods.”

One of Henkel's previous 3D printign contracts includes development of the material used to make the facade of Amsterdam's Europe Building. Photo via Henkel
One of Henkel’s previous 3D printign contracts includes development of the material used to make the facade of Amsterdam’s Europe Building. Photo via Henkel

Sticking to strengths

Operations at Henkel’s Tallaght site specialize in adhesives, a niche which Dr. Holloway believes will give its 3D printer materials development the edge. Speaking to the Irish Times Dr. Holloway confirms, “As the world’s largest adhesive company,” (having started as the Loctite sealants brand which was acquired by Henkel in 1997) “Henkel is uniquely positioned to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing/industrial 3D printing.”

“Many of the materials and equipment technology are complementary to our existing adhesive business and we already have strong relationships with many of the early adopters through this.”

A light reactive material portfolio

The news follows Henkel’s inclusion in HP’s open materials platform, that was officially extended to a Multi Jet Fusion distribution partnership at TCT 2017. The chemical firm has also been building its additive materials portfolio in recent years through a number of bespoke products for private customers.

3D printed Aectual Floors. Photo via Ivo Toplak (DUS architects).
Henkel also developed the material used by Aectual to 3D print the floor of Schipol airport. Photo via Ivo Toplak (DUS architects).

Within the broad spectrum of additive manufacturing techniques, the facility will employ 40 scientists and engineers to focus on the development of materials for use in industrial vat polymerization techniques, i.e. SLA, DLP and CDLP. Dr. Holloway explains, “The specific project in Tallaght builds on the existing talent and expertise we have on site regarding light cure adhesive technology (a base for resins for certain 3D printing).” Additionally, the center will research appropriate materials needed for post processing.

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Featured image shows a selection of 3D printed objects using Henkel-developed resin. Photo via Henkel