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“Father of 3D Printing” Chuck Hull Awarded by Western Society of Engineers

Picture of Tyler Koslow
by Tyler Koslow
Feb 22, 2017

Charles “Chuck” Hull, the co-founder of 3D Systems, will receive the Western Society of Engineers’ prestigious Washington Award. Known as the “father of 3D printing”, Hull coined the term stereolithography back in 1986, the first commercial 3D printing technology. 

Although the 3D printing industry has just started to develop rapidly over the past few years, the technology has been lurking in the shadows for decades. It started over 30 years ago when an American inventor named Charles “Chuck” Hull was issued a patent for stereolithography. This solid imaging process is also known as SLA 3D printing, and still widely used in many applications.

On Friday, the SLA 3D printing inventor is being honored by the Western Society of Engineers with the Washington Award. Hull will be the 98th recipient of this prestigious accolade. The award is given to engineers that are helping to advance humankind with their professional endeavors.

The Western Society of Engineers
The Western Society of Engineers

In response to the honors, Hull seems nothing short of humbled and grateful for his selection:

“I’m incredibly honored to receive the 2017 Washington Award and am grateful to the Western Society of Engineers for this recognition. It’s humbling to be in the company of such influential previous award recipients as Henry Ford, Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong, among others.”

Originally established by the engineering organization back in 1916, the award is named after the first U.S. President George Washington. The Washington Award presentation takes place on Friday at the 2017 Chicagoland Engineering Awards Benefit banquet. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the ceremony is a key part of Engineers Week.

How Chuck Hull Became The “Father of 3D Printing”

Chuck Hull
Chuck Hull

SLA 3D printing was first invented by Hull in 1984. He was issued a patent just a couple of years later. This was the first commercial 3D printing technology ever created. Since then, companies like Formlabs have helped transmute the legacy of stereolithography.

As a result, the invention of SLA printing led Hull to start 3D Systems back in 1986. The company remains one of the largest in the 3D printing industry to this day. As co-founder and current chief technology officer of the 3D printing titan, Hull’s influence continues to shine throughout the industry.

Hull is named an inventor on 85 different patents in the United States. There are a number of other international patents in optics and 3D printing that he has also involved himself with. Hull also created STL (stereolithography format), the standard file format used to prepare CAD models for 3D printing.

Nowadays, 3D Systems is a leader in medical 3D printing solutions, on-demand parts manufacturing, as well as design tools. While the company has experienced financial instability—like others in the industry—Hull’s innovative spirit has made 3D Systems a force to be reckon with for over three decades and counting. 

License: The text of "“Father of 3D Printing” Chuck Hull Awarded by Western Society of Engineers" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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