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Wacker will introduce first industrial 3D printer for silicones at K 2016

Norbert Sparrow

August 5, 2016

2 Min Read
Wacker will introduce first industrial 3D printer for silicones at K 2016

Chemicals company Wacker Chemie AG (Munich, Germany) made a bit of a splash last year when it announced that it had developed a process for 3D printing with silicones. The technology will be formally introduced at K 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany, where the company will run the Aceo Imagine Series K printer at stand A10 in hall 6 through the run of the show from October 19 to 26.

Described by Peter Summo, Vice President, Engineering Silicones, as the first industrial 3D printer for silicones during a pre-K media event in June, he told attending journalists that the “contact-less technology allows unprecedented geometries” and will enable the creation of “impossible things.” He foresees an additive manufacturing “revolution in healthcare, biomodeling, rapid prototyping, athletic products and more.”

Aceo technology uses a drop-on-demand technique, says Wacker. The printer head deposits tiny droplets of silicone on a water-soluble substrate. The silicone is formulated such that the droplets flow together prior to curing, which is initiated by exposure to UV light. This process ensures the formation of a homogenous workpiece, explains Wacker, that is similar to an injection molded part. The use of water-soluble support materials makes it possible to create overhangs and internal lattices.

Additive manufacturing currently is experiencing rapid growth in medical applications, notes Bernd Pachaly, who leads the Aceo team. “Biomodeling and customized geometries are particularly promising,” he says. “In these types of applications, silicones can display their favorable properties particularly well. Silicones are heat resistant, flexible at low temperatures, transparent and biocompatible. Furthermore, they can be pigmented in any color and have good damping properties,” says Pachaly.

At the pre-K media event, Wacker announced that 3D printing under the Aceo brand would be available starting sometime this month. (At the time of writing, there is little new information, although Aceo 3D has set up a Facebook page.) Customers will  be able to upload designs via a Webshop and order 3D-printed silicone parts. The company also is currently building a technology center near its main site in Burghausen, Germany, where customers ultimately will be able to test concepts in an open print lab.

The video embedded below shows one “impossible thing” that the Aceo 3D printer has produced.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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