MUNICH—Wacker Chemie A.G. will expand its production capabilities for silicone and polymer products in China, and reinforce its research and development capability to strengthen its market position in the region.
Wacker is expanding its solid silicone rubber manufacturing facility in Zhangjiagang, as well as its production capacity for vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer dispersions at its plant in Nanjing, according to a recent press release. Wacker's technical center in Shanghai also will be expanded with the addition of new R&D labs for silicone fluids and resins, pyrogenic silica and room-temperature-curing silicone elastomers.
food application lab for products from the Wacker Biosolutions division also is scheduled. An investment of about $23.2 million has been earmarked for these expansion projects. Most of the funds will be used for technical measures to eliminate production bottlenecks and expand capacity, the company said.
One investment focus is on the Zhangjiagang site, where Wacker manufactures pyrogenic silica and several silicone products, including solid silicone rubber. By building a new production line, the company will add several thousand metric tons of solid silicone rubber capacity in the future, it said. At the Nanjing polymer site, process engineering improvements for the manufacture of VAE dispersions will boost the annual production capacity by up to about 33,100 tons. The processes are expected to be completed in the second half of 2018, the company said.
Greater China is one of the company's most important business regions. It remains Wacker's largest single market, and it represents one fourth of group sales, said Wacker CEO Rudolf Staudigl. Demand for silicones and polymer products in China has been growing steadily, but due to high plant capacity utilization, additional volumes are almost impossible.
"This will help us support our customers' growth and strengthen our market position in the region long-term," said Staudigl.
Wacker also will expand the company's R&D facilities in Shanghai, which already is home to a technical center. By the end of 2018, Shanghai will have additional silicone labs for the development of new products and applications in areas such as coatings, construction and consumer care, the company said.
The expansion project also includes the R&D lab for room-temperature curing silicon elastomers, which develops adhesives and sealants for construction and industrial applications. A new application lab catering to the growing needs of the local food industry also will be built, the company said.