Interview: Judith Distelrath of Wacker Chemie AG – ACEO®
14 December 2017
The debut of ACEO®’s multi-material silicone 3D printer at formnext last month marked an exciting new milestone in the company’s history. ACEO®, a startup project within Wacker Chemie AG, and user of AMFG, has been driving the revolution in silicone 3D printing since it launched the world’s first 3D printed elastomer in 2016.
We caught up with Judith Distelrath, Project Office Manager at ACEO®, to discuss the company’s ground-breaking silicone technology and experience at formnext.
AMFG: What has been the highlight of formnext for you?
Judith: The variety of people. We not only have people talking about machine and materials, but also people who are interested in services and looking for solutions – which is particularly interesting for us. The number of people looking for new solutions is really amazing.
AMFG: Can you tell us more about your new multi-material silicone 3D printer?
Judith: It’s something that we’re in the process of developing. We’ll be bringing it out on our web shop (powered by AMFG) in the second half of 2018, so that you can also have parts printed with different Shore hardness or colours or even Shore hardness and colours combined. That’s the goal.
AMFG: Why was it important to develop a multi-material printer in particular?
Judith: It was something highly requested by our customers. We print elastomer materials, which are soft, but a lot of our customers ask for different ways to combine soft and hard materials. So the driver behind our development is really our customers.
AMFG: Where do you see the additive manufacturing industry in five years?
Judith: Today, people still think in 2D. I think that in five years’ time, this will change – and there will be a greater and broader understanding of how to engineer in 3D.
Silicone 3D printing – a new horizon?
3D printing has certainly opened up new avenues to develop and create parts with materials previously deemed impossible to print. And ACEO® has been at the forefront of the silicone printing revolution – in 2016 the company displayed the first industrial 3D printer for silicone.
Indeed, until recently it has proved almost impossible to print silicone parts using 3D printing technology. This is due in part to its material properties – silicone is highly viscous, and cannot be cured in the same way as thermoplastics and metals. However, ACEO®’s technological system – which encompasses materials, machine and software – has overcome this bottleneck by enabling the 3D printing of silicone parts. Using the company’s online web shop, customers are therefore able to receive high-quality silicone parts.
With a wide range of applications, including prototypes as well as highly customised and complex parts, the use of silicone in additive manufacturing could open new opportunities for various industries.
“Printing with silicone is truly a new dimension in 3D printing,” says Judith.
And we certainly agree.
Find out more about ACEO® here.
This article is part of our formnext spotlight series, featuring some of the companies that showcased at formnext this year. You can read our previous feature on Markforged here.