Mar 27, 2018 | By Tess

Relativity Space, the orbital launch company behind what could be the largest metal 3D printer on earth, has successfully raised $35 million through a Series B financing round led by Playground Global. The company says the added investment will enable it to further its manufacturing process for rockets.

With over $45 million in total venture funding, Relativity Space is gathering steam in the orbital launch market, and its recent funding brought on by investors such as Social Capital, Y Combinator Continuity, and Mark Cuban will allow it to expand its satellite launch and rocket business.

Since its founding in 2015, the Los Angeles company has aimed to disrupt the aerospace industry by relying on new manufacturing processes such as 3D printing. So far, it seems the company is off to a pretty solid start, as it has developed what it calls the “world’s largest metal 3D printer” which it plans to use to 3D print rockets on Mars, and has successfully test-fired over 100 nearly fully 3D printed rocket engines.

The company is presently 3D printing over 95 percent of its large-payload launch vehicle components, demonstrating that the technology is suitable for more than just supplemental or novelty production. Notably, it is using additive manufacturing to cut back significantly on the number of parts required to build a rocket.

In a press release, the company said it had "cut rocket part count from 100,000 to 1,000 and dramatically reduced labor and timelines by orders of magnitude." Ultimately, it hopes to disrupt the industry’s entire “tech stack,” from design, to supply chain and inventory management, to quality control and beyond.

Relativity Space's massive Stargate 3D printer

“The future of space requires faster, cheaper, more flexible rocket production and launch that is simply not possible with traditional approaches,” commented Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Relativity. “By leveraging an all-in approach to 3D printing, we will fully automate the production of rockets. This will change the way the launch industry views lead times, product iteration rates, and costs. Our technology development is also on-path toward scaling and sustaining an interplanetary society. We will build toward this amazing future far faster with our new capabilities.”

And where will the $35 million in funding go? According to Relativity, it will be used to expand the company's position in the satellite constellation market as well as its partnerships. Presently, the company says it has over $1 billion worth of partnership agreements with government groups and commercial businesses around the globe.

“Relativity is shaking up an industry that hasn’t experienced this level of innovation in decades,” said Jory Bell, Investment Partner at Playground Global and Relativity Board Member. “We are excited to be a part of a company that is taking a radical approach and we believe Relativity brings significant value to the aerospace ecosystem.”

This past December, the L.A. company undoubtedly excited its investors by releasing a video of its 3D printed Aeon 1 rocket engine being tested. The engine, made of just three 3D printed components, reached full thrust force in just milliseconds.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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