From Pyrotechnics to LSR

Liquid silicone rubbers (LSR) offer a wide range of applications, from the automotive industry, mechanical and process engineering, through electrical applications, the transmission and distribution industry, through to construction, foods, health care and the medical sector. But what makes LSR so successful? We asked the designated LSR expert Dr. Berndt Stadelmann. The doctor of chemistry has been working with silicone rubbers for almost 30 years.

Well, there are definitely plenty of gurus in the field of liquid silicone rubber. And by that I mean that all of the development work and success of this product line are built on a foundation of interdepartmental teamwork. In my current role, I’m involved more in commercial and global marketing, and serve as an interface to the supply chain. But getting back to your question – what makes LSR so special is its workability in LSR injection molding, along with the terrific final properties of silicones: thermal stability, pigmentability, short cycle times, and the ability to perform delicate molding operations.

One of the potentially most powerful materials is definitely the group of self-adhesive liquid silicone rubber products, because they add interesting features when used as the soft component in combinations of hard and soft materials.

The self-adhesive materials I mentioned earlier have consistently been in demand for years, but demand for our classic, standard LSR is pretty common too, because it’s so versatile. Requests have recently been on the rise for highly transparent materials and for products with low levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

Each LSR product is manufactured according to high standards of quality. SILPURAN® products are produced under cleanroom conditions, which complicates the manufacturing process somewhat.

Our main research priority right now is to add more transparent materials to the portfolio – we’re working on optimizing viscosities for injection molding, reducing volatility and improving adhesion to a variety of substrates.

Yes, I remember trying to promote LSR during my time in Brazil. Once when we were visiting the production site of a major potential customer, we were asked if we could deliver our drums in wooden frames in order to prevent the drums from being dented during shipping. The customer showed us the dented samples and the drums from the competition – which were in various types of wooden frames. Because of the complexity, Burghausen wasn’t able to provide wooden packaging that quickly. Our former production manager at WACKER Brazil promised the customer we would only select undented drums from Burghausen and that we knew a carpentry shop where we could get some inexpensive wooden frames made for us. One afternoon as I was walking across the courtyard from the cafeteria, I saw what he’d meant by that: several people from Production were hammering and sawing away at home-made wooden frames – when it was 35°C in the shade. But then, service and a focus on the customer have always been really important at WACKER.

The customer was very satisfied, of course.

… be found in far more applications than it is today.”

Thank you for the interview.

EMPLOYEE PROFILE: DR. BERNDT STADELMANN

Even at an early age, this native of Linz, Austria, showed a passion for chemistry and was excited about his junior chemistry set – and especially about its potential for pyrotechnics. After earning a degree in chemistry and writing his doctoral dissertation on the subject of “Alpha-Omega Transition-Metal-Substituted Linear Oligosilanes,” Stadelmann joined WACKER in 1997. Since that time his work in the Group has focused entirely on silicones – only the teams and locations have changed.