HP has been a pillar of the electronics industry for a very long time. For more than six decades, the company has manufactured everything from printers to PCs to laptops, tablets and enterprise-oriented equipment.
In the second half of 2014, HP announced it would be splitting itself into two separate companies – one will handle enterprise-level needs like servers and software, with the other focusing on consumer electronics and printers.
Named Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP, Inc., respectively, the split was seemingly inevitable, and should lead to a number of good things for both halves of the firm.
What the Split Means
One of the most interesting things to come from the split is the focus on 3D printing by HP, Inc. Other interesting benefits of the split (at least to the companies in question) include better financial resource access, clarity of mission, and freedom to explore paths that best suit each firm.
Of course, the split isn’t good news for Hewlett-Packard employees, and the announcement also included a footnote that an estimated 50,000 employees would be cut from the company’s payroll when the split occurs.
While Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will focus on manufacturing and developing software, servers and other similar efforts, HP, Inc. has been freed to develop new consumer-facing options. One of those is 3D printing.
During the company’s announcement to the press concerning the split, it also announced it would be pursuing 3D printing with greater intensity, although it was scarce with details concerning exactly how it would do so, or what areas or industries would be served by the company’s efforts.
HP’s 3D Printing Efforts
HP has long been one of the dominant computer printer manufacturers in the world. However, it has also made inroads into 3D printing.
While those efforts have not resulted in any actual printer models coming to market, the company does operate several of its own printers within its research and development labs. It has also developed more than one proprietary printing material.
One of these is a completely smooth plastic printing material that provides benefits over materials like ABS. Another is a clear, glass-like material made from sodium silicate.
A widely circulated whitepaper issued by HP in 2012 indicated that the firm was very interested in using silicates as the base for 3D printing materials, largely due to their suitability, but also their wide availability (silicates make up approximately 90% of the earth’s crust).
While there may be no consumer-facing 3D printers coming from HP in the near future, the company has made some noise concerning business-facing options. It has released no details regarding a business-oriented 3D printer, but it has also not denied speculation concerning such a product coming to market, either.
While the HP split might be bad news for employees, it’s good news for investors and ultimately will be a good thing for both halves of the original company. Hopefully, it will also benefit technology by freeing researchers and developers to innovate.