3D Systems co-founder Chuck Hull was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI) in a ceremony at The White House last week.
The award is the highest honour for technological achievement in the U.S., awarded by the President of the United States for outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental, and social well-being. Hull, renowned as the ‘father of 3D printing’, received the honour from President Joseph Biden for the invention, development, and commercialisation of the stereolithography (SLA) process.
Before co-founding 3D Systems, Hull served as Vice President of Engineering at UVP, Inc. (now owned by Analytik Jena), a company that manufactures ultraviolet light sources for industrial and scientific applications when he began working on a way to fuse UV resins into three-dimensional structures to create product prototypes. In 1983, he produced the first 3D printed part, an eye wash cup, using stereolithography. Hull applied for a patent for this technology, and co-founded 3D Systems three years later.
Hull is a named inventor on 85 United States patents, plus numerous other patents around the world in the fields of ion optics and 3D printing. In 2017, Hull was one of the first inductees into the TCT Hall of Fame for his pivotal role in creation of the additive manufacturing industry.
Today, Hull serves as 3D Systems’ Chief Technology Officer for Regenerative Medicine. He leads the 3D Systems team collaboration with United Therapeutics in bioprinting programmes to establish an unlimited supply of human lungs, requiring no immunosuppression, potentially allowing patients with end-stage lung disease to benefit from an unlimited supply of tolerable, transplantable organs.
“On behalf of the entire company, I congratulate Chuck as a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation,” said Dr. Jeffrey Graves, president & CEO, 3D Systems. “He has had a remarkable career with his efforts not only changing the trajectory of manufacturing but also impacting the human condition by changing how healthcare is delivered. Chuck’s invention of Stereolithography gave birth to an industry and since that time, the number of 3D printing technologies has proliferated, as have the applications for which they are used. Advancements in applications such as satellites, electric vehicles, medical implants, dental aligners, chip manufacturing, carbon capture — 3D printing is playing an integral role in each one — all made possible by Chuck taking the first step with SLA. I’m inspired by his passion and believe we’ll see the possibility of bioprinted human organs becoming a reality in his lifetime. It’s a pleasure to collaborate with Chuck and I am so very grateful and privileged to call him a colleague and friend.”