Chuck Hull – Wikipedia

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Technology inventor

Chuck Hull

Born (1939-05-12) May 12, 1939 (age 83)
Nationality American
Known for STL file format,
SLA 3D printer
Scientific career
Fields Engineering

Chuck Hull (Charles W. Hull; born May 12, 1939) is the co-founder, executive vice president and chief technology officer of 3D Systems.[1][2] He is one of the inventors of the SLA 3D printer, the first commercial rapid prototyping technology, and the widely used STL file format. He is named on more than 60 U.S. patents as well as other patents around the world in the fields of ion optics and rapid prototyping. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014[3] and in 2017 was one of the first inductees into the TCT Hall of Fame.[4]

Early life[edit]

Chuck Hull was born on May 12, 1939 in Clifton, Colorado, the son of Lester and Esther Hull. His early life was spent in Clifton and Gateway, Colorado. He graduated from Central High School in Grand Junction, Colorado. Chuck received a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics from the University of Colorado in 1961.[5] He is also a distinguished alumni from Colorado Mesa University.[6]

Beginnings of stereolithography[edit]

Hull first came up with the idea in 1983 when he was using UV light to harden tabletop coatings.[7] But on July 16, 1984 Alain Le Méhauté, Olivier de Witte and Jean Claude André filed their patent for the stereolithography process.[8] It was three weeks before Chuck Hull filed his own patent for stereolithography. The application of French inventors were abandoned by the French General Electric Company (now Alcatel-Alsthom) and CILAS (The Laser Consortium).[9] The claimed reason was “for lack of business perspective”.[10] Hull coined the term “stereolithography” in his U.S. Patent 4,575,330 entitled “Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography” issued on March 11, 1986.[11] He defined stereolithography as a method and apparatus for making solid objects by successively “printing” thin layers of the ultraviolet curable material one on top of the other.
In Hull’s patent, a concentrated beam of ultraviolet light is focused onto the surface of a vat filled with liquid photopolymer. The light beam, moving under computer control, draws each layer of the object onto the surface of the liquid. Wherever the beam strikes the surface, the photopolymer polymerizes/crosslinks and changes to a solid. An advanced CAD/CAM/CAE software mathematically slices the computer model of the object into a large number of thin layers. The process then builds the object layer by layer starting with the bottom layer, on an elevator that is lowered slightly after solidification of each layer.

Commercial rapid prototyping[edit]

In 1986, commercial rapid prototyping was started by Hull when he founded 3D Systems in Valencia, California.[13] Hull realized that his concept was not limited to liquids and therefore gave it the generic name “stereolithography” (3D printing),[14] and filed broad patent claims covering any “material capable of solidification” or “material capable of altering its physical state.”

Hull built up a patent portfolio covering many fundamental aspects of today’s additive manufacturing technologies such as data preparation via triangulated models (STL file format) and slicing, and exposure strategies such as alternating hatch directions.

The salary for his role as 3D Systems CTO was $307,500 in 2011.[16]



  1. ^ “Forbes Profile”. Forbes. Archived from the original on 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  2. ^ Businessweek Executive Profile
  3. ^ “Charles Hull: Stereolithography (3D Printing)”. Inductees. National Inventors Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  4. ^ “Hall Of Fame”. TCT Awards 2018.
  5. ^ 3DSYSTEMS. “Charles W. Hull Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer” (PDF). Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  6. ^ “Distinguished Alumni – Colorado Mesa University”. Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  7. ^ Ponsford, Matthew (14 February 2014). “The night I invented 3D printing'”. Cable News Network. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  8. ^ Jean-Claude, Andre. “Disdpositif pour realiser un modele de piece industrielle”. National De La Propriete Industrielle.
  9. ^ Mendoza, Hannah Rose (May 15, 2015). “”. Alain Le Méhauté, The Man Who Submitted Patent For SLA 3D Printing Before Chuck Hull.
  10. ^ Moussion, Alexandre (2014). “Interview d’Alain Le Méhauté, l’un des pères de l’impression 3D”. Primante 3D.
  11. ^ U.S. Patent 4,575,330 (“Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography”)
  12. ^ “Stereolithography”. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  13. ^ “Rapid prototyping in Europe and Japan” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  14. ^ History of 3D
  15. ^ Microsoft Word – LANE-2004-EOS-DMLS.doc
  16. ^ “Charles W. Hull Profile”. Forbes. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  17. ^ Invention: 3D printing (stereolithography)
  18. ^ Lee, Rebecca. “RPS Awards 2020 Recipients Announced”. Retrieved 6 April 2021. The Progress Medal is given to Charles (Chuck) Hull, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of 3D Systems in recognition of his invention of stereolithography, the first commercial 3D printing technology.

External links[edit]