German group unveils €100m investment projects for significant LSR, HCR capacity growth
Munich, Germany - Wacker Chemie AG has unveiled a series of investment projects aimed at expanding its silicone rubber production capacity globally, in response to growing demand.
The company has earmarked €100 million for the projects, which include significant capacity expansions for liquid silicone rubber (LSR) and high consistency rubber (HCR) across several sites over the next few years.
The new capacities, Wacker said without offering detailed figures, will be available in the second half of this year and will come into full effect in 2023.
Wacker expects to complete "several expansions" at its production site in Burghausen, Germany by the end of the year, providing new LSR capacities in the second half of 2022.
New capacities will also be installed at the group’s US-based production site in Adrian, Michigan, to serve the North and Central Americas market locally “from next year onwards.”
The Munich-based group also plans “substantial capacity expansions” for HCR grades, starting with its new production site in Panagarh, India, which it said will start production shortly.
Additional HCR capacities will be available early next year at the company’s sites Pilzen, the Czech Republic, and Tsukuba, Japan.
Wacker’s Pilzen site produces ready-to-use Silmix silicone compounds, while Tsukuba manufactures silicone emulsions, high-consistency and room-temperature vulcanising silicone rubber as well as LSR.
According to Wacker, HCR offers “exceptional physical, mechanical, chemical and electrical properties” and is becoming increasingly sought-after in the industry.
Wacker said it was also considering additional expansion measures at its sites in Zhangjiagang, China, Charleston, Tennessee and in Burghausen in order to better meet the demand in the long-term.
In Zhangjiagang, for instance, the group intends to expand the production of pyrogenic silica, which enhances the mechanical properties of silicone rubber.
Wacker manufactures pyrogenic silica at its sites in Burghausen, Nuenchritz in Germany and in Charleston and Zhangjiagang.
The company is claimed to be “one of the few” backward-integrated silicone producers of pyrogenic silica for direct sale as well as for captive use.
The scheduled investments are in line with Wacker’s new growth targets announced in March. The German manufacturer intends to increase growth in its chemical divisions by focusing on product specialties.
“We finished 2021 with record sales and strong earnings – despite headwinds from raw material and energy prices.
"We want to maintain this momentum and are charting our course for accelerated growth going forward,” said CEO Christian Hartel.
Wacker said among other products, its growth campaign will focus on silicone rubber specialties.
“Silicones are essential for… key industrial sectors such as automotive, electronics and medical,” said Robert Gnann, head of the Wacker Silicones.
“Silicone rubber is strategic for us. As the world’s second largest silicone manufacturer, we are committed to supporting this dynamic growth even more strongly in the future.”