Last year we reported that global chemical company, WACKER had developed a breakthrough method for 3D printing silicone. Now the Munich-based firm has unveiled plans for the launch of the world’s first industrial 3D printer that will bring this silicone manufacturing technology to the market, the ACEO Imagine Series K.
Penned as a “milestone in additive manufacturing” the ACEO Imagine Series K is a compact solution that prints silicone parts fast. The machine uses a drop-on-demand process whereby tiny silicone droplets are deposited on a substrate and built later by layer. The silicone is formulated so that the droplets flow together before being cured by UV light to form a homogenous part with injection moulded-like qualities.
Bernd Pachaly, Head of WACKER’s Silicone research and responsible for the ACEO team commented: "It can be used to make parts and assemblies with complex geometries, as well as ‘impossible products’, which could not previously be produced.”
Pachaly began developing the technology in 2014 and notes medical and biomodelling as particularly promising industries for 3D printing silicone.
“In these types of applications, silicones can display their favourable properties particularly well,” Pachaly added. “Silicones are heat resistant, flexible at low temperatures, transparent and biocompatible. They can furthermore be pigmented in any colour and have good damping properties.”
Starting in August, WACKER will be offering silicone 3D printing services under the ACEO brand via an online portal where customers will be able to upload their design and order 3D printed parts. The company is also currently building its own technology centre close to its main Burghausen site called the ACEO campus. Customers will be able to use the centre to test their product ideas in an Open Print Lab.
The machine will go on display publicly for the first time at K 2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany on October 19-26th.