"At this year’s K, we will once again be able to demonstrate our leading position as one of the most innovative silicone and polymer suppliers in the world,“ says Robert Gnann, head of WACKER’s silicones business division, with regard to the trade fair. With €5.3 billion in sales and R&D expenditures of €175 million, WACKER is among the most research intensive companies in the chemical industry. Last year, the group generated €1.9 billion, i.e. 37 percent of its sales with silicones.
"Silicones are increasingly being used in several sectors such as the automotive, health-care, lighting and electronics industries. There are two reasons for this: on the one hand, material requirements are rising steadily. On the other, standard materials are reaching their limits. In order to develop and produce innovative products, the industry needs high-performance materials such as silicones,“ emphasizes Gnann. "Due to their unique physical and chemical properties which can be combined in several ways, and their excellent processability, silicones have become indispensable in many industries".
WACKER is presenting the unique performance of silicones at this year’s K show. At its 300-square-meter booth, the company is show-casing solid and liquid silicone rubber grades, silicone encapsulants, additives for manufacturing wood-plastic composites, adhesion promoters, electrically conductive silicone rubber dispersions, and pigment pastes designed for the fluorescent marking of addition-curing silicone rubber. The company will also present new VINNEX® additives for bioplastic compounds from its WACKER POLYMERS business division.
Trailblazing Textile Sensors and 3D Printing with Silicones
WACKER’s offering of 20 product novelties is complemented by the presentation of two trailblazing technologies: textile sensors based on extremely thin silicone films, enabling a virtual reality display of body movements, as well as the first industrial-scale 3D printer for silicones. Both technologies will be presented live at the WACKER booth.
„So far, it is not possible to print silicone parts with existing industrial 3D technologies“, says Gnann. The 3D process developed by WACKER and marketed under the ACEO® brand since this year, is therefore considered a milestone in additive manufacturing. „With our ACEO® technology, it is possible for the first time to manufacture silicone parts and assemblies with complex geometries.“
First Industrial-Scale 3D-Technology for Silicones
The 3D printing device that will debut at the K tradeshow represents the first industrial-scale printer generation. It is based on a drop-on-demand method developed by WACKER. 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 homogeneous work-piece, 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.
At the moment, additive manufacturing is growing rapidly in medical applications. Biomodeling and customized geometries are particularly promising. In these types of applications, silicones can display their favorable properties particularly well. Silicones are heat resistant, flexible at low temperatures, transparent and biocompatible. They can furthermore be pigmented in any color and have good damping properties. (for details, see press release No. 52)
Textile Sensors Made from Ultrathin Silicone Films
Three years ago, at the last K show, WACKER introduced ELASTOSIL® Film for the first time. This year, the company is presenting specific applications with a particular focus on novel textile sensors. This application exploits the electroactive properties of silicone. The ultrathin high-precision film is embedded between two conductive electrodes made of carbon-black-filled silicones. Together, the layers form a flexible capacitor that can store electric charge. If the silicone capacitor is mechanically deformed – for example due to a tensile or compressive movement – its capacitance also changes. The subtle nuances of these changes can be measured and thus used for sensory purposes, for example to make body movements visible.
ELASTOSIL® Film is made under cleanroom conditions without the use of solvents. WACKER’s patented production process creates extremely thin and faultless silicone films in thicknesses of between 20 and 400 micrometers. The film thickness across the entire width and length of the film web deviates from specification by +/- 5 percent at most. The silicone film enables the development and realization of innovative sensors and actuators for segments such as robotics, medical technology, and lifestyle products. The range of applications extends from pumps, switches, electrical relays and membranes through to movement sensors in textiles. The innovative sensor technology will be presented live in Hall 6, Booth A10. (for details, see press release No. 53)
Silicone Additives for Wood-Plastic Composites
Silicones are also gaining importance as processing aids. WACKER will show this at K 2016 by presenting GENIOPLAST® Additive for Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC), a new thermoplastic silicone additive for the more efficient manufacture of this kind of composites.
The additive improves processing when extruding plastic blends that contain wood, thereby making the manufacture more cost-effective and less energy-intensive. It also enhances the mechanical properties and water-repellency of such plastics. As a result of their weathering resistance and robustness, WPC are increasingly in demand in the construction, automotive, and furniture industries. (for details, see press release No. 54)
New Liquid Silicone Rubber Grades
At K 2016, WACKER is presenting several new liquid silicone rubber (LSR) grades: ELASTOSIL® LR 3003/90, ELASTOSIL® LR 3020/60, ELASTOSIL® LR 3072/50, and ELASTOSIL® LR 3016/65 as well as ELASTOSIL® LR 5040, a new LSR which contains significantly less volatile components.
All LSR grades are characterized by a significantly improved set of properties. ELASTOSIL® LR 3003/90 cures rapidly to form an exceptionally hard and high-modulus elastomer offering a hardness of 90 Shore A. This makes the material ideal for cost-effective, large-scale production of dimensionally stable silicone products. It can also be used as the hard component in hard/soft combinations. (for details, see press release No. 56)
WACKER is also introducing a liquid silicone rubber that cures to form a steam-resistant and hydrolytically stable elastomer. Standard silicone elastomers can only withstand superheated steam for short periods, making them less suitable for manufacturing seals and gaskets exposed to such hot fluids. WACKER’s new ELASTOSIL® LR 3020/60 grade is largely resistant to hydrolysis and even retains its elasticity in persistent contact with superheated steam. The fast-curing LSR is suitable for highly automated injection-molding and therefore enables cost-effective large-scale production of molded seals and other products that need to permanently or regularly withstand hot water or steam. Fields of application include sanitary engineering, heating systems and power plants. (for details, see press release No. 57)
Furthermore, WACKER is offering a new self-adhesive LSR grade called ELASTOSIL® LR 3072/50. Self-adhesive means that the silicone rubber bonds to a number of thermoplastics, such as polyamide (PA) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) without pretreatment. The new self-adhesive liquid silicone rubber cures within a very short time to form an oil-bleeding elastomer with high elastic recovery. ELASTOSIL® LR 3072/50 is particularly suitable as a sealing in two-component molded parts. Typical areas of application include automotive electronics and electrical systems, where the product is used in single-wire seals and connector housings with radial seals applied by injection molding. (for details, see press release No. 58)
The new liquid silicone rubber ELASTOSIL® LR 3016/65 is especially designed for use in automotive engineering applications. In addition to its excellent mechanical properties, the grade features enhanced media resistance. Even when in contact with hot motor oil for long periods of time, molded parts made of ELASTOSIL® LR 3016/65 retain important material properties – a feature that helps them meet the specifications of leading automakers. (for details, see press release No. 59)
WACKER will also present ELASTOSIL® LR 5040, a brand-new non postcure low volatile LSR. The product contains significantly less volatile components compared to existing products which means that they provide good transparency and excellent mechanical properties even without post-curing. In many cases, e.g. baby care, medical and food-contact applications, processors can skip post-curing which saves money and time. As all liquid silicone rubber grades, ELASTOSIL® LR 5040 is well suited for injection molding.
New Silicone Encapsulants for the Lighting Industry
WACKER is presenting the following new encapsulants for LEDs (primary optics) and for optical lenses and coupling elements (secondary optics):
LUMISIL® 590 & 591, LUMISIL® 740 & 770, and LUMISIL® 7601.
LUMISIL® 590 and LUMISIL® 591 are highly transparent, addition-curing silicone encapsulants. They form elastomers with a refractive index of 1.53, which ranks them among the high-refractive-index (HRI) encapsulants. This enables optimum light efficiency. The silicones are almost completely transparent for light in the visible spectral range (approx. 400 to 700 nm). Also, they do not yellow, even when radiation is extremely intense. LUMISIL® 590 and LUMISIL® 591 protect the LED chip reliably against environmental influences and thus prolong its service life. The silicone compounds can be processed in industrial metering processes such as dispensing. (for details, see press release No. 63)
LUMISIL® 740 and LUMISIL® 770 belong to the group of normal-refractive-index (NRI) encapsulants. The cured rubber grades have a refractive index of 1.41, which is typical of polydimethylsiloxanes. They effectively protect the sensitive LED semiconductor chip against environmental influences. Additionally, they can serve as carriers for luminescent dyes, which can selectively influence the color of the light emitted by the LED. A special feature of LUMISIL® 740 and LUMISIL® 770 is their extremely high heat, light and thermal-shock resistance. Due to their stability, the new silicones are particularly suitable for encapsulating LED chips with strong heat generation and intense light emission. (for details, see press release No. 64)
For manufacturers of optical lenses and coupling elements, so-called secondary optics, WACKER has developed LUMISIL® LR 7601. The product is predominantly characterized by a significantly lower volatiles content compared to the former grade. This especially benefits processors. The vulcanizates only need to be thermally postcured for sensitive applications. Due to the low volatiles content the postcuring time can be reduced for these applications. LUMISIL® LR 7601 is suitable for lenses, sensors and optical coupling elements in lighting technologies and can be processed cost-effectively in large-scale injection molding processes. (for details, see press release No. 65)
Further Product Highlights at K 2016:
• VINNEX® Additives for Bioplastic Compounds
WACKER is presenting new polymer additives for bioplastic compounds. VINNEX® additives considerably enhance the processing and property profile of biopolyesters or blends with starch. VINNEX® 2526 greatly simplifies the manufacture of highly transparent, rigid polylactic acid (PLA) films. The VINNEX® 2522, 2523 and 2525 product lines significantly improve processing and heat-sealing properties in paper coatings with PLA or polybutylene succinate. VINNEX® 8880 optimizes the flow properties in the melt for injection-molding applications and 3D printing, so that temperature-sensitive and complex items can also readily be produced. Energy can also be saved during processing. (for details, see press release No. 55)
• WACKER® Primer G790 TF
The new adhesion promoter for silicone rubber WACKER® Primer G 790 toluene free (TF) is used to achieve reliable adhesion between addition-curing silicone rubbers and hard substrates such as aluminum, stainless steel or glass. In comparison with many conventional adhesion promoters, the primer contains no toluene or other aromatic compounds. (for details, see press release No. 60)
• ELASTOSIL® Color Paste FL UV Fluorescent
The new silicone pigment paste ELASTOSIL® Color Paste FL UV Fluorescent was designed for the fluorescent marking of addition-curing silicone rubber. Silicone molded parts or coatings pigmented with the new paste shine a deep blue-violet when irradiated with UV light. Silicone processors can utilize this property to develop computer-controlled quality control systems in manufacturing. (for details, see press release No. 61)
• POWERSIL® 403
The electrically conductive silicone rubber dispersion POWERSIL® 403 has been developed for furnishing the outer con-ductive film on fittings for transmission and distribution cables. The product yields a coating characterized by high elasticity, good mecha-nical properties and scrub resistance. This makes the dispersion suitable even for cable fittings to be installed via cold-shrink processes. The product contains no aromatic compounds such as toluene. (for details, see press release No. 62)
• SEMICOSIL® 811
SEMICOSIL® 811, a rapid-curing silicone rubber adhesive for electric applications, is designed for oven-free processing. Even with little heating, the product rapidly bonds to several substrates. Manufacturers of electronic components are therefore able to adapt the processing of the adhesive flexibly to the entire manufacturing process and, by doing so, to realize short cycle times. Because of its durability, which is typical of silicones, SEMICOSIL® 811 is especially suited for automotive electronics and display applications. (for details, see press release No. 66)