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Press Releases

K 2016: 20th International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber - ACEO® Imagine Series K - WACKER Presents the First Industrial 3D Printer for Silicones

Munich, Jun 28, 2016

WACKER, the Munich-based chemical company, will be showcasing a world first at K 2016, the 20th International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber: the first industrial 3D printer for silicones. The high-tech device – called ACEO® Imagine Series K – will be in operation in Hall 6, Booth A10 throughout the entire tradeshow. WACKER’s 3D printing process for the additive manufacturing of silicone rubber parts has been the subject of discussions for months. Up to now, there is no mature 3D printing technology available for silicones. The process developed by WACKER is considered a milestone in additive manufacturing. K 2016 will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany, from October 19 to 26, 2016.

Siliconteile mit Geometrien
At the K 2016 International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber, WACKER, the Munich-based chemical group, will showcase the first industrial-scale 3D printer for silicones. With the novel additive manufacturing process, silicone parts with complex geometries can be printed. WACKER will be marketing its 3D-printing services under the ACEO® brand.

The 3D printer that will debut at the K tradeshow represents the first printer generation to industrial purposes. The ACEO® Imagine Series K prints considerably faster and is more compact in design. “The printer is based on the ACEO® technology – a drop-on-demand method developed by WACKER,” says Bernd Pachaly, head of WACKER’s silicones research and responsible for the ACEO® team. “It can be used to make parts and assemblies with complex geometries, as well as ‘impossible products,’ which could not previously be produced.”

The term “additive manufacturing,” better known as 3D printing, describes a manufacturing process in which a workpiece is built up in successive layers, without the use of a mold – i.e., it is a mold-free process. This offers designers significantly more latitude than conventional manufacturing methods. Once a product design has been generated by computer-aided design (CAD) or imaging techniques, printing can commence immediately.

“The automotive and aerospace industries are currently the main customer sectors for 3D,” says Pachaly, who started developing a system solution for 3D printing with silicones with his team in 2014. At the moment, additive manufacturing is growing most rapidly in medical applications. Biomodeling and customized geometries are particularly promising. “In these types of applications, silicones can display their favorable properties particularly well,” emphasizes the research head. “Silicones are heat resistant, flexible at low temperatures, transparent and biocompatible. They can furthermore be pigmented in any color and have good damping properties.”

With ACEO® Imagine Series K, prototypes or small series can be produced quickly and efficiently. The new 3D printing process thus offers product designers fascinating possibilities.

ACEO® technology uses a drop-on-demand method. The printer head deposits tiny silicone droplets on a substrate. In this way, the workpiece is built up layer by layer. The silicone is formulated so that the droplets flow together before the curing process begins, which is activated by UV light. The droplets and layers thus produce a homo-geneous workpiece, which does not differ much from injection-molded parts. With the aid of water-soluble support materials, it is also possible to create overhang materials and internal lattices.

ACEO® – New Brand for 3D-Printing Development, Consultation and Services

From August 2016 on, WACKER will be offering services relating to 3D printing with silicone under the ACEO® brand. Customers will be able to upload their own designs in a webshop and order 3D-printed silicone parts. These will be produced in the ACEO® print fab and shipped around the world. Moreover, the interdisciplinary ACEO® team will offer consultation and development services for the design and manufacture of silicone parts or assemblies.

WACKER is currently building its own technology center – the so-called ACEO® campus – near its main site in Burghausen, Germany. In the future, customers will be able to test their own product ideas here in an Open Print Lab.

Visit WACKER at K 2016 in Hall 6, Booth A10.

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Wacker Chemie AG
Media Relations & Information
Florian Degenhart

Tel. +49 89 6279-1601
Email florian.degenhart@wacker.com
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