Wacker's plant in Nünchritz, Germany recently celebrated the production of half a billion cartridges of adhesives and sealants at the site since startup in 1998.
The chemical plant in Nünchritz has a long tradition. “It was here that silicone chemistry came of age,” said Uwe Scheim, head of sealants research and development in Nünchritz. “After the Müller-Rochow synthesis was developed, the inventor Richard Müller, who was born in nearby Dresden, went on to scale up production of silicones from laboratory to industrial quantities.” The first sealant to be made from silicone started rolling off the production line at the then VEB Chemiewerk Nünchritz in the mid-1960s and was marketed under the name Cenusil.
The Nünchritz plant is one of the first fully integrated silicone sealants sites in the world. Here, adhesives and sealants are made from start to finish, from grinding the metallurgical-grade silicon through to packaging, and, if requested, delivery in labeled cartridges. In addition to standard sealants, the product portfolio includes special fire-resistant and food-contact grades as well as silicone hybrids based on innovative and user-friendly alpha-silane technology. Besides Nünchritz, Wacker also manufactures silicone adhesives and sealants in China and South Korea.
Aside from production, the Nünchritz employees are responsible for researching, developing and adapting new sealants to current market needs. Antifungal joint sealants for humid rooms have been developed here along with food-contact grades for use in kitchens.
Very few of the adhesives and sealants found in do-it-yourself stores and used by the building trades are identifiably WACKER products. If their own facilities permit, some industrial customers order drums of sealant and then fill it into cartridges or foil packs which they market under their own brand name. The majority of customers, though, go for the package offered by the Nünchritz plant, commissioning it to produce the adhesives and sealants, fill them into proprietary cartridges and deliver them in appropriately labeled shipping boxes. Cartridges bearing the Wacker logo are marketed in certain regions, such as Southeast Asia. There, the adhesives and sealants, labeled Elastosil or Geniosil, are directly offered to the building trades and home-improvement stores.
The Nünchritz plant was founded as a chemical site in 1900 and became part of the Wacker Group in 1998. Meanwhile, approximately €1.5 billion has been invested in the Nünchritz plant, making it one of the world’s largest and most modern production sites for silicones and hyperpure polysilicon. More than 1,400 people currently work at Wacker Nünchritz.