Wacker honours researchers new 3d printing process manufacture silicone parts

Four researchers honoured with Wacker’s innovation award

6:48 AM, 21st October 2016
Wacker honours researchers for new 3d printing process to manufacture silicone parts
Wacker executive board members Christian Hartel (left), Auguste Willems (2nd from right) and Rudolf Staudigl (right) with this year’s winners of the Alexander Wacker Innovation Award (from L-R): Dr Ernst Selbertinger, Dr Bernd Pachaly, Dr Frank Achenbach and Dr Maximilian Peter.

MUNICH, GERMANY: Wacker Chemie AG presents its “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” to four researchers namely Dr Frank Achenbach, Dr Bernd Pachaly, Dr Maximilian Peter and Dr Ernst Selbertinger for their success of creating a new 3D printing process to produce silicone rubber parts.

Earlier, there was no developed industrial 3D printing technology accessible for silicones. That’s the reason the process created by the four Wacker researchers is considered as a turning point in additive manufacturing. This year’s €10,000 innovation award, now in its eleventh year at Wacker, focused on process innovation.

The ACEO technology created by the researchers utilises 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, activated by UV light. The silicone droplets and layers thus produce a homogeneous workpiece, which does not differ much from injection-molded parts. With the aid of water-soluble support materials, it is also possible to make parts with complex geometries, such as overhang materials and internal lattice structures.

The automotive and aerospace industries are now the primary clients for 3D. Right now, additive manufacturing is rising most rapidly in medical applications. Biomodelling and tailored, customer-specific geometries are especially encouraging. In these types of applications, silicones can display their favourable properties particularly well. Silicones are heat resistant, flexible at low temperatures, transparent and biocompatible. They can furthermore be pigmented in any colour and have good damping properties.

Named after the company’s founder, the €10,000 “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” substitutes between the categories of product innovation, process innovation and basic research.

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