The Munich-based WACKER chemical group is set to open its first regional 3D printing lab outside Germany at the end of 2018. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the new facility will provide ACEO silicone rubber 3D printing services to the growing North American market.
“In general, North America is the largest and most dynamic market for 3D printing,” comments Bernd Pachaly, head of the ACEO 3D printing project at WACKER.
“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.”
Droplet-on-demand silicone 3D printing
ACEO 3D printing technology is a droplet-on-demand based method that creates 3D objects by building up voxels of material. After each layer, material is cured under UV light. The process is performed by the company’s Imagine Printers.
The silicone elastomers used for ACEO 3D printing are tailor made for UV Resistance, Sterilizability and Thermal Stability. According to the company, end products are comparable to silicone objects produced using injection molding.
WACKER introduced multimaterial 3D printing capabilities to the ACEO Imagine Printers in 2017. Most recently, the company also released a range of 3D printable fluorosilicones for the process, suitable for sealing applications in chemically resistant environments.
A million dollar facility
WACKER has confirmed that the new ACEO 3D printing center is funded by “a single digital million US-dollar” investment from the company, and it will be co-located with an existing WACKER silicones R&D center.
At the facility, customers will have access to services using a range of silicone rubbers with different Shore A hardnesses and colors, including the newly released fluorosilicones.
Pachaly concludes, “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.”
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Featured image shows WACKER UV-resistant silicone. Photo via ACEO