WACKER’s Americas Region Expansion Strategy Aligned with Global Growth and Demand for Silicones

Adrian, MI, Dec 14, 2017

Wacker Chemical Corporation, part of the global chemical group Wacker Chemie AG, is planning a number of concurrent expansion projects to support regional growth and demand for silicones and HDK® pyrogenic silica. Triple digit million US-Dollar investments in North America align with WACKER’s overall expansion strategy to add capacity in Europe and in Asia.

Dr. Ian R. Moore, Vice President, Division Silicones, Wacker Chemical Corporation. Photo: Wacker Chemie AG

“WACKER is a leading silicone solutions provider, offering customers a reliable supply of materials, consistent quality, technical and customer support services and innovative technology,” said Dr. Ian Moore, Wacker Chemical Corporation Vice President Silicones. “WACKER’s expansion strategy is designed to support continued growth in demand for silicone products, further increase customer satisfaction, and accelerate product development.”

Moore, who joined WACKER in July 2017, and has over 30-years of global operations and commercial experience in the silicones industry, explained that growth in silicone’s demand is seen across all market segments, with stronger growth coming from the automotive and transportation, health care, and personal care industries. In addition to capacity expansion, silicone elastomers, fluids, emulsions, and HDK® pyrogenic silica demand necessitates that WACKER also employ significant resources to support our customers’ needs in growing their businesses.

The 10,000 ft2 WACKER Silicones R&D Center is located at the Michigan Innovation Headquarters (MI-HQ) facility in Ann Arbor, a business incubator co-work campus. WACKER research is focusing on advanced applications for silicones in personal care, coatings, electronics and health care in the Americas Region. The Ann Arbor facility joins the global network of WACKER R&D Centers already located in Germany, Europe, Asia and China. Photo: Wacker Chemie AG

“WACKER’s current investment strategy in infrastructure and capacity expansion in the America’s region will involve several coordinated projects,” Moore said. “Already looking at this past summer, we opened the Silicones R&D Center located in Ann Arbor, MI. Having this 10,000 square foot research and development center situated in the Michigan Innovation Headquarters (MI-HQ) facility complements WACKER’s business model of being close to our customers and close to serving regional market trends. Currently under construction and scheduled to open in mid-2019 is our HDK® plant in Charleston, Tennessee. When open, the plant will provide our customers a regionally-sourced supply of pyrogenic silica, having an annual capacity of some 13,000 metric tons. WACKER has earmarked some US$150 million for this investment.”

Complementing these projects, WACKER sites which manufacture silicone elastomers, fluids and emulsions, are planning to significantly expand production capacity through infrastructure development and investments in additional equipment. Dr. Moore said that engineering planning for a number of projects is already underway. These plans include the addition of capacities for elastomers, intermediate production processes and further investment in antifoam compounds and silicone emulsion production.

HDK® fumed silica has been produced by WACKER for more than four decades. Known for its exceptional purity and consistent quality, WACKER’s HDK® fumed silica provides rheology con-trol for coatings materials and printing inks.
HDK® pyrogenic silica is used as a rheology-control additive in paints and adhesives and as a filler in silicone elastomers. It also serves as a flow aid in personal care products and cosmetics and used as an anti-caking agent in the pharmaceutical and food-processing industries. The Charleston, TN plant is scheduled to come on line mid-2019 and have an annual capacity of some 13,000 metric tons.

WACKER’s leadership position in silicones manufacturing and technology is anchored in its 70 years of experience in developing new and advanced silicone products and innovative customer solutions. “Serving our customers’ needs today is certainly as important as serving their needs well into the future. The investments we are making today competitively positions WACKER in the Americas and positions WACKER as a globally leading chemical company for the coming years ahead,” Moore commented, adding that “WACKER’s Silicones division in 2016 had €2.0 billion in global sales and ranks as the world’s number two supplier. In contrast, in 2014 Silicones sales were €1.73 billion, so clearly the division is poised for growth. Based upon the company’s 2017 Q1 and then its Q2 financial report, the company already revised upward its expectation for WACKER SILICONES, the main reason being continued strong volume growth and demand for silicone products. With the publishing of the Q3 report, WACKER reported silicones volume growth was up 11% for the quarter, generating sales of €559.3 million vs. €503.1 million Q3 2016.”

WACKER’s ACEO® technology enables the 3D printing of silicone for prototyping and manufacture of parts having intricate and complex geometries previously unavailable through traditional methods.

Dr. Moore closed by saying that silicone products have very unique properties, unsurpassed by any other polymer – their potential is virtually unlimited. To emphasize this point, Moore commented that WACKER is already pioneering a novel technology, offering the first worldwide service for 3D printed silicone parts. “Based at its Burghausen, Germany facility, ACEO® is staffed by WACKER silicone experts who have developed the materials, including the software and hardware which is opening new application opportunities for silicones,” Moore said. “ACEO® is ideal for prototyping, making individualized goods and producing complex, highly-difficult to manufacture products. Revolutionizing the world of additive manufacturing, customers simply upload their CAD design to the ACEO® web shop, accept the quote and receive the part.”

“WACKER is an innovative chemical company,” Moore added, “and we expect to continue to develop and supply products and solutions that serve our customers’ needs and the needs of their customers, ultimately adding value and improving the quality of life. The strategic downstream investments WACKER is making today and more planned for the future supports achieving tomorrow’s long term goals.”

About Wacker Chemical Corporation

Wacker Chemical Corporation, Adrian, MI (USA) is the North American based headquarters for WACKER SILICONES, WACKER POLYMERS, and WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS and WACKER POLYSILICON business divisions. Wacker Chemical Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Munich-based Wacker Chemie AG. Wacker Chemical Corporation Adrian facility is registered to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 quality management systems and to RC 14001 environmental standards.