Over subsequent years, Wacker entered new territory, thanks to its advances in acetylene chemistry and innovations in silicon chemistry. In the late 1960s, Wacker became the first major manufacturer of silicones in Europa to successfully penetrate the US market.
Well established business with vinyl plastics boomed as well. As a result, experts started to wonder whether the energy-intensive and comparatively expensive production of carbide-derived acetylene could be replaced by a new, more cost-effective process based on petroleum. The switch was ultimately achieved at the end of the 1950s in what became the “Second Wacker Process,” using ethylene as the starting product for acetic acid.
Going Global: Chemical Production for the World
Wacker’s focus in the 1970s and 1980s was all about increasing exports. This period witnessed the establishment of a great many subsidiaries both in Europe (the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, the UK and Spain) and overseas (Brazil, Mexico and the USA). Wacker entered the Asian market in 1983, when it founded Wacker Chemicals East Asia in Tokyo.
In the 1990s, Wacker began to develop biotechnology as a new business field. A biotech research center began work in Burghausen in 1990. The acquisition of ProThera in Jena and the establishment of Wacker Biotech in 2005 expanded the Group’s existing pharmaceutical operations to include the contract development of pharmaceutical proteins (biologics). Wacker acquired Halle-based Scil Proteins Production in 2013. The Halle site produces pharmaceutical actives both for clinical trials and for the marketsupply phase.
A Decade of Production in China
Entering the 21st century, Wacker continues to make progress on the Group’s internationalization. Major sites have been established in Europe, Asia and the USA. In 1998, Wacker acquired the Nünchritz chemical site in the German state of Saxony. Wacker began producing silicones in China in 2004. Wacker and Samsung decided to jointly construct a fab for the manufacture of 300 mm semiconductor wafers in 2006. This fab went on stream just 18 months later.
In 2008, Wacker and Dow Corning launched the world’s largest integrated production site for siloxane in Zhangjiagang, China. 2011 saw the Group embark on the construction of a further polysilicon production plant in Charleston, Tennessee, USA.
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