Wacker AG is establishing a research and development center in Ann Arbor, Mich., to support its business throughout the Americas regions.
The first phase of the project includes a “single digit million dollar” investment for equipment and installation of the labs, which are set to be open in the first half of 2017.
The firm did not disclose specific financial details of the project, which is to be located at the Michigan Innovation Headquarters, a co-work campus. Wacker already operates silicone research and development centers in Europe and China.
“This scientific co-work community is ideal for Wacker, and for very good reason,” David Wilhoit, president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corp., Wacker's Americas subsidiary, said in a statement. “It puts us in the midst of a business incubator atmosphere where ideas can be developed and brought quickly to market.”
Axel Schmidt, Wacker Silicones Division vice president, said in an email that there is space to grow as business conditions develop. The location is able to accommodate expansion and Wacker will consider approaching additional developmental phases for expanding the scope of operations and addition of resources if needed.
“The Americas is a key region in Wacker's overall business model, as pointed out this year in our annual report,” Schmidt said. “The inclusion of the Ann Arbor center is a logical expansion of Wacker's global research and development footprint to complement its existing centers. These centers will be working in collaboration with each other to provide innovative solutions and customer support in such key industries which Wacker participates.”
He highlighted medical care devices; personal care applications, including skin and sun care; addressing megatrends in electronics and micro-electronics; and regional support for the firm's paints/coatings business specific to the Americas region as focuses of the new center.
Wacker initially will establish two large-scale labs and eventually build the center into four research and development laboratories. Schmidt said the facility will house analytical apparatus and testing equipment for silicone fluids, emulsions and elastomers.
“The Ann Arbor facility will represent Wacker's research and development operations in the America's region complementing and working alongside existing operations in Europe and China for silicones,” he said. “The center will focus its overall research and development activities in the fields of silicones and related polymer chemistry and applications.”
The firm operates six production sites and 11 sites overall in the Americas, including the new project in Ann Arbor. Schmidt said the center primarily will support the three U.S. silicone manufacturing sites.