The new Dimension of Innovation
At the heart of all WACKER research is the "Consortium für elektrochemische Industrie", founded in 1903. Today, a tightly knit network of Munich-based Consortium, divisional R&D departments distributed across global production sites, technical centers and WACKER ACADEMY form the basis for researching, developing, testing and prototyping product and technology innovations. Our comprehensive expertise and broad product spectrum deliver optimum solutions for competitive innovations.
For innovation to flourish, intensive cooperation and knowledge transfer between WACKER and the customer are needed. That is the only way we can develop solutions tailored to your needs. Innovation at WACKER takes two forms: process innovation and product innovation. Process innovation aims for continuous optimization of production methods in order to reduce the specific costs of making a product.
Product innovation consists in developing new products and taking existing products to the next development stage. "The sales percentage of new products, in other words – the share of sales we made with products launched in the last five years – shows how important this is. In fiscal 2012, it was 20 percent," says Dr. Fridolin Stary, head of Corporate R&D.
Innovation Triggers Trends
One example is new non-healing silicones. These remain absolutely stable even after repeated radiation sterilization. As a result, it is now possible for the first time to produce reliable, safe slit valves for medical metering devices, without the need for further auxiliaries. Up to now, the slits would close over (“heal”), causing the valves to fail. It was necessary to use a process auxiliary to prevent such failure. That auxiliary was a liquid or particulate release agent, which was applied to the edges of the slits as they were being created in the membrane. Our novel silicone elastomer obviates the need for this release agent, and so enables silicone valves to be made faster, cleaner and at a lower cost.
Innovation Responds to Trends
Silicone rubber is increasingly replacing other elastomers. This is mainly due to its outstanding properties, with which the material serves modern market trends. Many industrial applications are faced with the problem that new technologies are raising the bar for the materials which they use. These in turn must deliver maximum efficiency under extreme conditions. Three WACKER innovations exemplify how this works.
Baby Care – Extreme Softness and Bite Resistance
Novel ELASTOSIL® LR 3040 liquid silicone rubber grades feature a combination of particularly soft material and pleasant touch properties on one hand and high tear and bite resistance on the other. They are thus ideal for pacifiers and bottle nipples.
Lighting – Highly Translucent and Heat-Resistant
Optical lenses, coupling and light-guiding elements primarily need highly transparent, heat-resistant products that are suitable for use in modern applications and have the added benefit of lowering manufacturing costs for the end product. Our LUMISIL® LR 7600 liquid silicone rubbers satisfy demanding requirements, while offering plenty of potential for new application areas, giving designers and developers more scope for creativity and flexibility.
Fire Safety – Highly Non-Combustible & Stable
Wherever fire safety is key, look no further than the new flame-retardant ELASTOSIL® LR 3011 and 3170 elastomers, whose benefits include resistance to heat, aging and weathering, as well as low-temperature elasticity or electrical insulation. Typical applications are LED holders, axial and radial seals in junction boxes as well as single-wire seals in photovoltaics.
In 2011 and 2012, WACKER received the Best Innovator Award in the chemical sector from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, management consultancy A.T. Kearney, and German business weekly "Wirtschaftswoche." It was clear from the congratulatory speech that WACKER won the award on the basis of its special innovative strength and innovation management.
The importance which we attach to R&D is further reflected in two prizes which WACKER awards:
- The WACKER Silicone Award, which carries a cash prize of €10,000, stands alongside the Kipping Award as silicon chemistry’s most important international accolade.
- The Alexander Wacker Innovation Award, also worth €10,000, is an in-house award which is bestowed on selected employees for outstanding innovations.