The company test fires a 3D-printed Aeon rocket engine in March 2021.
Relativity Space is pushing the boundaries of 3D printing to build rockets, but CEO Tim Ellis sees the company’s impact beyond the space industry.
“We’re not just reinventing the basics of rocket building, we’re reinventing the whole stack of how you actually design, develop, build and scale a business,” Ellis told CNBC.
“3D printing is actually a whole new tech stack for the aerospace industry, the paradigm of which we haven’t really changed in the last 60 years – building products one at a time by hand with hundreds of thousands to millions of individual parts in a factory, full of solid ones Tools and a very complicated supply chain, “said Ellis.
The Long Beach, California company has grown rapidly since it was founded five years ago. The review of the 3D printing approach was strong enough to build his Terran 1 missile. It moved in “the factory of the future” last year and picked one $ 500 million “war chest” of capital. Investors including Tiger Global Management, Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, Jared Leto, and Mark Cuban now value the company at $ 2.3 billion.
Now the company is finalizing work on the first rocket, which is expected to be launched into orbit by the end of this year. Additionally relativity in February revealed plans to build a larger and reusable missile called the Terran R, Designed to accommodate the Falcon 9 missile that has become the workhorse of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Relativity already has the world’s largest 3D printers capable of producing a single piece of metal up to 32 feet high. Approximately 95% of the parts for his Terran 1 rocket are 3D printed, a process Ellis announced to make the rocket many times less complex compared to traditional rockets. According to Relativity, the simpler process will be able to convert raw material into a missile on the launchpad in less than 60 days.
“While Relativity invented our own 3D printers … that’s actually not the most innovative thing,” said Ellis. “I think the most innovative thing Relativity does is that we’re the world’s first end-product 3D printing company. Not only do we build the printer and sell it, we don’t just design the product and buy someone else’s printers – we integrate both together. “
CEO Tim Ellis sits in front of the 3D printer shafts at the California plant in Long Beach.
Ellis believes that companies that build 3D printers aren’t selling a machine to their customers: “They’re selling a whole new philosophy” about manufacturing.
“You’re telling your client, ‘Throw away all of your existing factory, all of your existing designs and developments, let go of half of your team and hire a new team that understands how to build a 3D printing factory.'” Said Ellis.
Ellis is both the creator of 3D printers and the user of his products and, in relativity, sees 3D printing from its infancy as “the most disruptive technology in our lives for the aerospace and possibly other manufacturing industries”. “”
Like Musk, Ellis continues to focus on building the “multi-planetary future of humanity.”
“We need to inspire tens to hundreds of companies to go after manufacture [a continuous human presence on] Mars is a reality, “said Ellis.” We’re talking about recreating an entire planet – this is a monumental undertaking. “
For Ellis, additive manufacturing is “inevitably required to build an industrial base on Mars”.
“This future would never happen if it weren’t actually created by a company,” said Ellis, adding that relativity is now “on the cutting edge of what the future of mankind is building”.
SIGN IN for our weekly original newsletter that goes beyond the list and offers a closer look at CNBC Disruptor 50 companies and the founders who continue to innovate in all sectors of the economy.