Back in 2015, German chemical manufacturing company WACKER CHEMIE AG announced that the ACEO team from its WACKER SILICONES division had developed technology that made it possible to use silicone materials with 3D printing technology. The silicone 3D printing technology was introduced to the North American market at IDTechEx this fall, and ACEO, a brand of WACKER, said this was a milestone moment for the additive manufacturing world, because silicones are the first elastomer able to be 3D printed. As several operations have been working toward a viable way to 3D print with silicone for several years, WACKER developed its first 3D printing silicone system solution, which comes with the ACEO Imagine Series K printer and is well-suited for a variety of applications; the system debuted last summer at the K 2016 trade fair.

ACEO Product Design Engineer and Open Print Lab leader Dr. Vera Seitz

WACKER also announced last year that it was launching ACEO as its new silicone rubbers 3D printing, consultation, development, and services brand, which would include a web portal for users to upload their own 3D designs, and the opening of the ACEO Campus technology center near company headquarters in Burghausen, where customers could test their product ideas in an Open Print Lab. At the time, WACKER could not provide a starting date for the lab, but the day has finally arrived, and the ACEO Open Print Lab is now officially open for business.

“Information and education across industries are key to understanding the variety of opportunities and applications offered by the ACEO technology. We want customers to understand how our solution matches their needs,” explained Dr. Bernd Pachaly, the Head of Project 3D Printing at WACKER SILICONES. “There is no better way than learning by first-hand experience. This is why we created our Open Print Lab.”

In order to extend its service portfolio, the Open Print Lab is now available for ACEO’s customers and development partners, who can experience first-hand the brand’s silicone 3D printing technology. Experts at the ACEO Campus will guide visitors in using its innovative silicone system, which offers design freedom and precise, 3D printed elastomer parts.

3D printed lens array made from 100% silicone

ACEO’s silicone technology is based on a ‘drop-on-demand’ principle, where the print head deposits single silicone voxels onto a platform. The voxels flow together to form a homogeneous surface, and then the layer is UV-cured to build the object and any necessary support structures. The completed silicone object is removed, rinsed of any support material, and post-cured at a higher temperature to achieve its final mechanical properties.

Throughout the 3D printing process, the silicone is able to maintain its excellent properties, like radiation and temperature resistance, a range of colors, and biocompatibility. ACEO developed software and hardware for its silicone 3D printing technology, and customers can upload designs, receive quotes, and ship their 3D printed creations from the automated web shop, the first in existence for silicone elastomers.

The new Open Print Lab on the ACEO Campus in Burghausen offers custom programs to small groups – up to four people per group. Once participants have registered, they work with the ACEO team to choose the date, and define the goals and expectations of the workshop. The participants will have the opportunity for hands-on, individual training sessions, which range from the basics of 3D printing all the way to advanced 3D design. You can complete test prints of your own designs, and also gain theoretical knowledge about ACEO’s unique silicone 3D printing technology. The fee for the first participant in each session is €1,500, and each additional participant is €250. Discuss in the ACEO forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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