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WACKER: A Pioneer Past and Present

Through decades of dedication, WACKER has brought silicone resin technology for weatherproofing buildings to perfection. The goal? Giving paint producers, painters and residents around the world decades of peace of mind.

Innovation can be tough. Nine out of ten start-ups don’t make it through their first year. Up to 90 percent of all new products retire from the market in only 12 months after launch, a Harvard Business School study finds. Innovations come. Innovations go.

However, this one has remained and, after more than 50 years, it’s more vital than ever: By first pioneering artificial silicone resins in the 1960s, WACKER laid the foundations for today’s emulsion paints and plasters, used to weatherproof buildings of all kinds and sizes. Since then, WACKER the Munich based chemical giant has further refined its technology – and turned silicone resin-bound colors into a coating class of its own. So what’s their secret formula?

WACKER’s Silicone Resins: In It to Win It

Facades need proper protection to preserve them from the wearing effects of sun, wind and rain. Paints and plasters based on WACKER’s silicone resins are the gold standard to do so. A chemical compound of silicon and oxygen, the system’s three-dimensional web structure allows for high water vapour permeability from a building’s inside – and minimal later absorption from its surrounding.

A Net that Works

Silicone resins are classified as organopolysiloxanes and are an irregular three-dimensional network of principally tri- or tetrafunctional units. Thanks to the high Si-O bond energy, the various organopolysiloxanes are very stable. Therefore, silicone resin coatings retain their water-repellent yet breathable effect for a long time.

Facade hydrophobization results in unparalleled longevity, low renovation costs and a lasting aesthetic appearance. As dry walls also lose less warmth, silicone resin paints help curb heating costs and support energy efficiency.

Whether used when refurbishing houses or constructing new projects, from private homes, office complexes and public buildings to historical edifices and memorials: The paints’ areas of application are vast. And not only do they preserve architectural values. They help guard natural, financial and real estate assets. Looking back, the innovation has come a long way – here is an overview of the most important steps.

The Spark of Innovation

It was in 1947 that WACKER founded its silicone business unit, becoming the first European chemical company to develop silicon and silicone solutions for industrial purposes. On October 16th, 1963, the WACKER trio Nietzsche, Pirson, Roth would change facade coatings forever. By patenting “aqueous dispersions of organopolysiloxanes and organic resins containing paints”, Nietzsche and his colleagues created the basis for today’s silicone resin paints, giving way to their worldwide ascent.

1963-1993: Conquering New Frontiers

The following years marked an era of discovery – with WACKER at the very center. In the 1960s, the first silicone resin emulsions and color recipes based on WACKER’s innovation were applied to facades. The result was rinseable and weather-resistant. In 1965, WACKER’s “Münchner Farbe” (Munich color) became a trend beyond Bavaria’s capital.

As success grew, also WACKER expanded its network into the paint industry, turning customers into long-term partners.

1993 - 2013: Bolstering Expansion

With the global market for silicone resin paints continuously growing, WACKER’s technology started to go global. The first buildings in the U.S., Japan and Singapore were coated with silicone resins by WACKER in the 1980s. The founding of WACKER Silicones Corporation in Michigan (1987) and WACKER Asahikasei Silicone in Japan (1999), for example, seemed only logical. An industry-wide and independent initiative, the 2003 campaign „Wir helfen den Fassaden!“ (we help the facades) further strengthened WACKER’s ties to its partners – and helped facade protection receive special attention in the media.

2013 to Tomorrow: The Future of Paint Technology

With megatrends like sustainability and energy efficiency high on the public agenda, WACKER is poised to drive silicone resins further. For example, new paint lines for indoor appliance work entirely without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), preventing painters from dizziness previously caused by evaporating solvents.

What will tomorrow’s silicone resin technology look like? One thing is certain: Then as now, WACKER is feverishly working on it. Hand in hand with its partners, and in seven Technical Centers worldwide.

Closed-Loop Supply Chain:

WACKER has a large market share in silicone resin products and supplies leading paint manufacturers around the world – even the top 10 on the European market. However, innovative medium-sized companies rely on WACKER, too. Here, a good personal relationship is as important as the assurance we can offer as a global player.

From silicon to silicone-resin production: unlike many other formulators, WACKER covers all the phases of this supply chain with its own production plants. This allows us to reliably supply paint manufacturers with silicone resin products in a flexible manner, without encountering bottlenecks when demand is high or in a cyclic market environment. Since we acquired the silicon plant in Norway on July 1, 2010, our supply of the raw material for silicone resin has become even more secure.


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