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3D Printing Inventor Chuck Hull Receives National Medal from Biden

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In a ceremony marking a landmark occasion for the 3D printing industry, President Joe Biden awarded Charles “Chuck” Hull, its pioneering mastermind, the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Through his game-changing invention of stereolithography, Hull has paved the way for the birth of an entirely new industry. Often hailed as the “Father of 3D Printing,” Hull’s visionary contribution not only streamlined production processes but also democratized design and manufacturing, enabling big and small innovators to bring their visions to life like never before.

On October 24, 2023, President Biden conducted a ceremony in the White House East Room to honor trailblazers in science and technology. The ceremony dedicated itself to presenting the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to distinguished recipients. Successive U.S. presidents support this tradition. It acknowledges individuals and groups for their transformative contributions to the nation’s well-being and progress in science and technology.

Chuck Hull received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation 2023 from President Biden. Image courtesy of C-SPAN.

Among the individuals being honored, the White House celebrated Hull for “continuing to drive innovation and advance manufacturing,” underscoring his paramount role in shaping the nation’s economic and technological landscape. Hull’s contributions have been key in positioning the United States at the forefront of the global 3D printing arena, fostering a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship. Beyond this immediate impact, his drive for technological disruption has not only led to the evolution of the industry but also inspired a new generation of inventors and thinkers to challenge the status quo and envision a future free from the limitations of conventional manufacturing.

Technological triumph

The U.S. awards the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation as two of its highest honors to individuals for their outstanding contributions to science and technology. This year’s ceremony honored a diverse group of luminaries for their innovations and breakthroughs.

Amidst this backdrop of recognition and accolades, President Biden emphasized during the ceremony: “We’re determined to return great science to America by investing 2% of our GDP in science and technology. Now, we invest 0.7% of our GDP.”

White House awards National Medals. Image courtesy of The White House via X.

After defining America as the land of possibilities, Biden highlighted the importance of the upcoming advances in technology and science thanks mainly to the “minds sitting in front of us.” To that end, he stressed that in his administration, “America will be the place where great science happens.” This year, the Biden Administration is investing $200 billion in R&D. In addition, the president signed the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022, which has helped accelerate the growth of 3D printing and is among the most significant investments the country has ever made to supercharge research, innovation and job creation.

Hull’s legacy

Hull, with his 1984 patent that inspired Figure 4.

The honored innovators and scientists have contributed to fields ranging from medical treatments to food security. This strengthens the country’s leadership position in the global arena. Hull’s groundbreaking contribution to 3D printing technology, particularly with his invention of stereolithography, has undeniably placed him in an elite group of innovators. He further solidified his legacy with the subsequent establishment of 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD). Beyond founding one of the most influential companies in the 3D printing sector, Hull was instrumental in introducing the STL file format. This essential tool set the standard for 3D printing data interchange. His induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2016 placed him alongside other brilliant minds like Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. It was already a testament to his monumental impact on modern manufacturing and design.

Rajeev Kulkarni, VP of strategy and corporate development at 3D Systems said, “Very proud that today, 3D Systems founder and my mentor, friend, Chuck Hull received the National Medal of Technology & Innovation award at the White House from the President of the United States. It was in recognition of starting the 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Industry.”

While Charles Hull’s recognition was undoubtedly the highlight for the 3D printing world, 20 distinguished individuals also received these prestigious medals. Among the National Medal of Science recipients were Huda Akil from the University of Michigan and Barry Barish from the California Institute of Technology. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was awarded to pioneers like Mary-Dell Chilton of Syngenta Biotechnology and John Cioffi from Stanford University.

Pioneering innovation

Established by Congress in 1959, the National Medal of Science celebrates individuals for their substantial contributions to various scientific domains. Meanwhile, Congress established the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 1985. It celebrates visionaries whose ingenuity and creativity have significantly benefited the American economy and quality of life. Besides recognizing individual brilliance, these medals aim to inspire American talents to embrace and advance in technical fields.

Hull’s latest recognition highlights the influence of his contributions to the 3D printing domain. His legacy serves as proof of the endless possibilities of innovation. His accomplishments are a reminder of the lasting impact that one person can have, inspiring countless others to dream bigger and push further.

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