- Feb 13, 2014 · Chuck Hull is the American engineer who invented 3D printing; ... it's usually 'Chuck'," he says, as he sits down with CNN in Frankfurt, Germany ...
- Chuck Hull was the man who created the first 3D printer capable of printing an actual part. While today, ... Subscribe to 3DPrint.com Email Newsletter.
'The night I invented 3D printing'
Call him Charlie, Charles, Chuck -- whatever you want. It's all okay with him.Beaming a warm smile from beneath his push-broom mustache, the softly spoken 74-year-old doesn't strike you as a pioneering innovator -- the man responsible for a breakthrough that's now driving forward the world of manufacturing.But Chuck Hull -- "in this kind of environment, it's usually 'Chuck'," he says, as he sits down with CNN in Frankfurt, Germany -- is executive vice president and chief technology officer of 3D Systems, a company built on his creation: the 3D printer.In 1983, Hull was working for a small business that made tough coatings for tables using ultraviolet lamps. When he suggested a new way to use the UV technology -- to quickly turn computer designs into working prototypes -- Hull was given a little lab to play around in during his evenings and weekends.Hull experimented for months, on his own with a plastic-y gloop -- then one night, something emerged...CNN: When you began, what materials exactly were you using?Hull: The class of materials is called "photopolymers" and these are typically acrylic-based materials that would be liquid until they're hit with -- let's say -- an ultraviolet light. Then, they instantly turn solid. So, you have a vat of this liquid and a point of ultraviolet light, and you turn it into a solid piece of plastic.And that's the basic method?That's the basic methodology -- that's stereolithography. That's never changed.Who was the first person you showed it to?Er, my wife. I got a good part and called her up, got her out of her pajamas, told her to come down to the lab and see this.What did she say?"This had better be good!" (Laughs.)And then, when did you see 3D printing take off?Well, it's really blossomed just in the last few years -- in the sense of really rapid growth and recognition. There's a lots of things that contributed to that, I think: a lot of the medical applications catch peoples' imagination; certainly the maker movement, with low-cost machines getting hobbyists interested in inventing and building using 3D printing.How did the process develop into what it is today?One of the most significant [changes] is the basic accuracy you can achieve: because [the materials] cure from a liquid to a solid, they tend to shrink and they can distort. So as you build these 3D parts you get some inaccuracies and warp-age. But that chemistry has been vastly improved, so there's almost no distortion now. Also the physical properties: initially the materials were really brittle -- they would break easily. Nowadays you get really good, tough plastic materials.I hear the word "democratization" used about 3D printing. Is that important to you?The whole premise of this technology has been to foster creativity, and change in product design and manufacturing, and so forth. At the individual level, I think there's a great kind of pent up need: we've got into the computer age and everything is on a screen or remote, we've kind of missed the tangible result. This is a means to convert something on the computer to reality in a straightforward way.Could you have imagined all this?(Laughs.) Not at the consumer level. I was always thinking in terms of design engineers -- in terms of their expensive CAD computers and so forth.What do you think the industry is worth now?I think, well, in terms of the total goods and services, it's about $3 billion annually and it's actually growing at a rapid rate.Are there limits to what 3D printing can do?
- Chuck Hull is the American engineer who invented 3D printing
- Hull created the first 3D printer in 1983 and has been refining his creation ever since
- He says the process has "blossomed" in the last few years
Top 10 Posts This Month
- The ultra-lethal drones of the future | New York Post 2014 article
- reprint of: Drones very small to large
- Since the U.S. EPA is no longer functional here are the states with their own EPAs that will have to protect those states now
- Sand Fire information from CALFIRE
- GPS Satellites were invented when magnetic North and South moved to fast for useful navigation
- More U.S. soldiers in World War I died from the worldwide flu pandemic than from the war
- Reprint from 2010: To develop your gifts
- US Credit Cards With Smart Chip Technology
- European colonization of the Americas killed 10 percent of world population and caused global cooling
- Some allegations have been corroborated, while others remain unverified regarding the Steele File