ADRIAN, Mich.—Wacker Chemical Corp., part of the global chemical group Wacker Chemie A.G., has planned a number of concurrent expansion projects to support regional growth and demand for silicones and HDK pyrogenic silica.
The expansion projects include triple-digit million dollar investments in North America, according to a Wacker release.
Wacker sites, which manufacture silicone elastomers, fluids and emulsions, are planning to significantly expand production capacity through infrastructure development and investments in additional equipment. These plans include the addition of capacities for elastomers, intermediate production processes and further investment in antifoam compounds and silicone emulsion production, according to the release.
These expansions complement a new 10,000-sq.-ft. silicones research and development center in Ann Arbor, Mich., situated in the Michigan Innovation Headquarters, that opened in June.
A new HDK plant in Charleston, Tenn., is under construction and is scheduled to open in mid-2019. When open, the plant will provide a regionally sourced supply of pyrogenic silica with an annual capacity of 14,300 metric tons, according to Ian Moore, Wacker Chemical Corp. vice president of silicones. Wacker has earmarked about $150 million for the investment, he said.
Growth in silicone's demand is seen across all market segments, with stronger growth coming from the automotive and transportation, health care and personal care industries, Moore said.
Based on the company's 2017 first- and second-quarter financial reports, the firm already revised upward its expectation for Wacker silicones, the main reason being continued, strong volume growth and demand for silicone products, Moore said. With the publishing the third-quarter report, Wacker reported silicones volume growth was up 11 percent for the quarter, generating sales of $658.8 million compared to $592.6 million in the third quarter of 2016, an increase of 11 percent .
Wacker also is introducing a new technology, offering a worldwide service for 3D-printed silicone parts, according to the release. The Aceo facility, based in Burghausen, Germany, is staffed by Wacker silicone experts, and can be used for prototyping, individualized goods and complex products, Moore said. Customers upload their CAD design to the Aceo web shop, accept the quote and receive the part.