Tim Weber was one of the hundreds of thousands of employees affected when the old company split back in November 2015 into Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which focuses more on services, software and financial, and HP Inc., which develops computers, printers and other related supplies. For years, Weber was responsible for a lot of that 2-D printer technology, especially from the ink jet standpoint, that so many of us use at home and at the office. “We built the print heads,” he said, “from $100 printers to $10m printers.” Since late 2015, though, he has been the global head of HP’s 3-D materials and advanced applications.
“It was a bit of a new area,” Weber said, “but the way HP often works is we sort of sponsor new things in the core business. That’s what we were doing. A lot of things that go into 3-D are leveraged from 2-D. It was a very logical transformation. The difference is the business aspect of it. In 2-D land, the businesses have been set for HP for years. In 3-D land, we have the opportunity to kind of create some new business models in an open materials platform.
“That was a journey of discovery for me, and probably for others.”
HP has been on some kind of journey of discovery ever since, investing more and more resources into its burgeoning 3-D printing business. Its first announcements about the tech came just three years ago. It introduced the hardware last year, partnered with some big-name manufacturers (BMW, Johnson & Johnson, Nike and, as outlined in an IndustryWeek feature last year, Jabil Circuits were all foundational partners) and went about disrupting a disruptive industry. Earlier this month, company officials announced a move into Asia, and just last week, Investor’s Business Daily reported that HP’s scaling of its 3-D printing business could threaten market leaders 3D Systems and Stratasys. Heady times.
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