kids encyclopedia robot

Chuck Hull facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Chuck Hull
Born (1939-05-12) May 12, 1939 (age 84)
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. 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 and in 2017 was one of the first inductees into the TCT Hall of Fame.

Early life

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. He is also a distinguished alumni from Colorado Mesa University.

Beginnings of stereolithography

Hull first came up with the idea in 1983 when he was using UV light to harden tabletop coatings. But on July 16, 1984 Alain Le Méhauté, Olivier de Witte and Jean Claude André filed their patent for the stereolithography process. 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). The claimed reason was “for lack of business perspective”. 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. 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

In 1986, commercial rapid prototyping was started by Hull when he founded 3D Systems in Valencia, California. Hull realized that his concept was not limited to liquids and therefore gave it the generic name “stereolithography” (3D printing), 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.


  • 2014 winner of the European Inventor Award in the Non-European countries category awarded by the European Patent Office
  • 2015 winner of the Industrial Research Institute's IRI Achievement Award for his invention of stereolithography.
  • 2020 winner of the Royal Photographic Society Progress Medal.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Chuck Hull para niños

kids search engine
Chuck Hull Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.