About Robocasting

Robocasting Enterprises is a spin-off from Sandia National Laboratories and is a success story of Sandia’s technology transfer program.

In the 1990’s, additive manufacturing – also known at the time as freeform fabrication – was in its infancy. That technology is the foundation of Robocasting Enterprises. The founder of Robocasting Enterprises, Dr. Joseph Cesarano III, was a career scientist at Sandia and worked with Prof. Paul Calvert to develop the use of ceramic slurries in the additive manufacturing process. They coined the term “robocasting” to describe the process they developed.

Since that time, the technology has been transferred to the University of Illinois and is now being used by several research groups and hobbyists throughout the world. Other groups have changed the name of the robocasting technology for various reasons, and robocasting is sometimes confused with direct-write assembly, direct ink writing, micro-robotic deposition, solvent-based extrusion, extrusion freeforming, robotic deposition, etc. Regardless of the name, the robocasting process is the foundation of 3D printing via particulate pastes, and Robocasting Enterprises is currently the world leader in its commercialization.

In the year 2000, there was not an application for the technology within Sandia, and there were not any private-sector companies interested in licensing the technology. The robocasting process was a little ahead of its time. In an attempt to find a commercial niche, Robocasting Enterprises was started as a part-time garage operation.

Finally, in 2007, a commercial opportunity emerged for manufacturing advanced filters for purifying molten metals. Robocasting Enterprises LLC (also frequently known as just Robocasting) was born, and operations expanded into a full-time manufacturing facility with three former Sandia employees: Joe Cesarano, President; John Stuecker, Vice President; and Mike Niehaus, Senior Engineer.

Since 2007, Robocasting has continued to improve and scale-up operations with the goal of transitioning 3D printing of ceramics from a small-lot prototyping technology into a large-scale manufacturing technology. As such, Robocasting is now housed in a state-of-the-art facility with capabilities for both larger-scale production and small-lot R&D custom fabrication. All of our equipment is specialized, developed and built in-house. Currently, while we do not sell our equipment, we do work with companies to help develop new and unique parts for their operations with the intent of becoming the supplier for those companies’ needs.

The robocasting technology is very versatile and valuable as a 3D printing technology, especially for ceramics and composites. However, robocasted products have inherent surface roughness, and it is difficult to predict dimensional variations. It is important to understand this reality in order to determine the applications for which robocasting is particularly suited. The robocasting process is a near-net-shape 3D printing process, but it is not necessarily near-net-size. Parts requiring very high dimensional precision and/or surface smoothness may not be good candidates for robocasting without some final machining.

Products that can benefit greatly from robocasting are:

  1. Products that can improve performance by incorporating previously unobtainable internal geometries (e.g., lattice structures or other parts with internal pathways)
  2. Simple shapes that can be made more economically and to customers' specifications because of automation (e.g., labware and thermal analysis crucibles)

A final note: there is a lot of hype surrounding 3D printing. Robocasting does not want to perpetuate unrealistic expectations. The 3D printing technique of robocasting is not appropriate for everything; however, the components it is good for, it is EXCEPTIONALLY good for.

Contact us to see if the robocasting process is appropriately valuable for your current supplies or new products. Our goal is to provide you with extraordinary products at affordable prices to help your business or research activities thrive!