According to ZDNet, there has been a shakeup at HP. Existing 3D Printing Business Leader Stephen Nigro is to retire November 1st. The experienced HP executive has been at the helm of HP’s nascent business unit. The unit is now shipping systems and has expanded its line up to include more production ready systems with the HP 300 and 500 systems.

Outgoing 3D Printing Business Unit Director Stephen Nigro

Outgoing 3D Printing Business Unit Director Stephen Nigro

The company has also signed up eager distribution partners worldwide to push its systems out to customers. Some of these resellers were existing channel while others are dedicated 3D printing companies that will support and resell HP’s systems. The firm has been working on strengthening its ecosystem in other ways as well. More polymer companies have joined HP’s semi-open materials alliance strengthening their competitive position while the company expanded to Asia and in particular to China. Startups such as Kupol have chosen HP for commercializing bike helmets while others are working on orthotics. HP seems to be making strides in offering color 3D printing or at least increasingly more colorful 3D printing. The company now needs to extend its previous efforts into a big push to produce, pomote and distributes its systems worldwide. This face is Christoph Schell, President HP North Americas.

Christoph Schell the new HP 3D Printing Business Unit Leader

Stephen Nigro seems to have been a safe pair of hands who turned the promise of HP in 3D printing into a burgeoning reality. Stephen’s career at HP spans 38 years. Initially working on the inkjet systems that HP brought to market, he later was in charge of developing the company’s first consumer and office inkjet systems, he lead the entire graphics and imaging BU, the inkjet and graphics business combined and now the 3D printing unit for two years. Indeed the corporate biography of Stephen Nigro would have almost a 100% overlap of the recent important historical developments in printing for the company over the past three and a half decades. In the key developments of inkjet since its commercial availability, he was always there to deliver the good for HP. His replacement come November 1st is Christoph Schell who with only a cumulative 19 years at HP is a relative neophyte. In his defense, he has broad international expertise having worked in the Middle East, Asia, South Pacific and lead the entire Americas over the past years.

Christoph mentioned on his Linkedin that,

“I’m excited to share the news of my new role at HP – as of November 1 – as President of 3D Printing. I have a strong passion for additive manufacturing and 3D printing and consider it to be the most promising growth opportunity in HP’s storied history. This business is an incredible example of reinvention, and how we’re literally creating the future. While I am honored to take on this important challenge, leaving my Americas role – and the Americas team, specifically – is bittersweet. During the past four years, I’ve been privileged to lead this organization, and together with our partners we have achieved incredible results, worked through tough situations and had a lot of fun! I have nothing but confidence and optimism for how we will continue to raise the bar with Richard Bailey taking over the reins of HP Americas and the incredible HP 3D Printing team disrupting manufacturing.”

Christoph Schell, the new HP 3D Printing BU leader. Image from his Twitter.

Schell comes at an important time for HP, now is where the rubber hits the road. Up and until now it has all been roses and sunshine with a few years of first dates for the company while the excitement around their market entry builds. Now we’re talking about yield, uptime, customer service and part quality. 3D Printing for HP went for an idea which was presented far too optimistically on a ridiculous time frame by a previous HP CEO to a reality under Nigro. Now, however, the company will have to outperform against EOS and show us that manufacturing and production are more than just press release content. There’s no word yet on if this was a planned retirement or not, Nigro would certainly have qualified for one and it seems like a good moment to pass the baton from the “technology realizer” to the operational head that grows a business. HP does sometimes have a tendency to go into boardroom musical chairs and coups though. Certainly as well, helming this business unit over the past years would have been taxing to anyone but so far it seems reasonable to expect this to be an orderly transition.

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