Recently rebranded FITTLE, the Xerox financial services unit specializes in helping firms adapt to market conditions and grow, while identifying opportunities for its parent company to expand into new areas. As part of a newly-signed collaboration deal, the business is now set to help Black Buffalo 3D’s technologies gain traction in construction, by offering to finance projects in which they can be deployed.
“This partnership just makes good sense, and we are thrilled for our customers,” added Tim Murphy, President of Black Buffalo 3D Finance. “It’s the convergence of ConTech and FinTech, which now enables construction firms and contractors to solve the affordable housing crisis faster, more efficiently, and with manageable monthly payments instead of massive upfront costs.”
Black Buffalo 3D’s NEXCON technology
Based in Pennsylvania, Black Buffalo 3D manufactures construction 3D printers that are designed to be rented out on a ‘pay-per-print’ basis. The company fulfills such orders using its proprietary NEXCON gantry-mounted systems. These units feature a modular track system, which allows users to customize their print area, meet project-specific requirements and scale to realize large community builds.
Black Buffalo 3D’s NEXCON machines also incorporate an open hopper design, thus providing users with a direct line of sight for inspection, while its print speed of 9.8 inches per second matches the Occupational Safety and Health Administration limit, and enables the creation of 1,000 sq. foot structures in under 20 hours.
Already, such benefits have seen Black Buffalo 3D selected to supply large-scale housing projects, such as Alquist 3D’s plans to 3D print 200 homes. The buildings are being constructed to meet the needs of the growing workforce in Pulaski, a city in Virginia’s New River Valley, which is one of the fastest-growing regions in the US when it comes to tech jobs.
Xerox leans further into AM?
Previously known as Xerox Financial Services (XFS), FITTLE is essentially a financing arm of Xerox that’s dedicated to helping back any company seeking to procure equipment. The business’ funding isn’t just aimed towards those working in construction, and its offerings are designed to support partners in the acquisition of everything from IT Services, software and audio visual gear, to security hardware.
As well as equipment leasing and financing programs, FITTLE also offers partner leasing, deal channel programs and support services, but its partnership with Black Buffalo 3D is set to focus mainly on the former. Through what FITTLE terms “expansive financing offerings,” the companies aim to make NEXCON 3D printers as easily adoptable as possible to those seeking out new construction technologies.
“As a global provider of innovative business financing solutions, FITTLE is well-positioned to support Black Buffalo 3D’s growth during this transformative time for the company,” said Nicole Torraco, President of FITTLE. “We look forward to executing a strong and sustainable partnership as the company continues to disrupt the construction industry.”
The move also signals a deepening of Xerox’s ties to the 3D printing industry. While it has traditionally traded in 2D rather than 3D printing, Xerox unveiled a roadmap to “participate” in 3D printing back in 2018. In the following months, Xerox acquired Vader Systems, a liquid metal jet 3D printer manufacturer, before making its Formnext debut in 2019.
Since then, Xerox has scrapped plans to buy HP, instead investing in the launch of its debut 3D printer, the ElemX. Over the last 18 months, the Naval Postgraduate School has acquired an ElemX for R&D, while Vertex Manufacturing has installed a Xerox 3D printer for industrial production purposes. However, through its FITTLE arm, Xerox now appears to be expanding its 3D printing interests in a new direction.
Investing in concrete 3D printing
Though the technology hasn’t quite disrupted the construction sector just yet, it’s potential to do so has begun to attract a significant investment in concrete 3D printing firms. During May 2022, GE’s wind turbine manufacturing arm, GE Renewable Energy, invested in COBOD, in a deal that’s said to have provided it with greater access to the firm’s machines.
On a larger scale, ICON raised another $185 million in February 2022, in a deal that saw its valuation top the $2 billion mark. The firm has previously pledged to use any funding raised to scale its capacity and grow its team of engineers, architects and operational leaders, with the aim of “bringing housing and construction into the modern world.”
Elsewhere, the US Department of Energy has issued a $39 million construction 3D printing grant, designed to support the technology’s development. Of the 18 projects to receive a share of this funding, those at Texas A&M University and the University of Pennsylvania are attempting to make particularly bold advances, with one developing a ‘hempcrete’ material and the other a carbon-absorbing floor.
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Featured image shows Black Buffalo 3D’s NEXCON construction 3D printer. Image via Black Buffalo 3D.