The National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973 by the National Council of Patent Law Associations, now the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Previously located in Akron, OH, the collection was moved in 2008 to the campus of the USPTO in Alexandria, VA. It's a non-profit organization dedicated to paying homage to inventors and their inventions, honoring "the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible."

The NIHF runs the museum in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as a middle school in Akron, and nearly 500 inventors have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The group chooses a class of inductees each year via a National Selection Committee and a Blue Ribbon Panel, and to make the cut, inventors must have filed a U.S. patent that has improved the welfare of humanity and promoted the progress of science and technology.

One of this year's inductees, Charles "Chuck" Hull, the "father of 3D printing," has most certainly done his part along those lines. Hull built a functional 3D printer prototype in 1984 which became the cornerstone of a technology only now entering mainstream consciousness.

Dr. Hull is also a founder of 3D Systems Corp. and he's been the company's Chief Technical Officer since April 1997 and Executive Vice President since May 2000. He was also the President of 3D Systems Corp. From March 1986 to October 1999. He retired briefly from 3D Systems during 1999, but remained on board as Vice Chairman, a member of the Board of Directors, and a consultant. He's been a Director of 3D Systems Corp. since 1993.

He'll take his place among innovative giants like Nikola Tesla, Rudolf Diesel, Luther Burbank, George Eastman and the inventor of Prozac, Klaus Schmiegel.

Hull, as you probably know, came up with the idea to use computer-controlled machinery to focus UV light precisely on a photopolymer which would solidify wherever the light struck it.

He called the resulting method "stereolithography," and it was the precursor to the 3D printing we know today.

Hull will also get the chance to cozy up to, at least figuratively, the lovely Hedy Lamarr, another of the inductees who, it appears, was not only lovely but brilliant.

This year's roster:

Howard Aiken
Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Mark I)
Patent No. 2,616,626

George Antheil
Frequency Hopping Technique
Patent No. 2,292,387

Frances Arnold
Directed Evolution of Enzymes
Patent No. 6,153,410

William Bowerman
Modern Athletic Shoe
Patent No. 3,793,750

Otis Boykin
Electronic Resistors
Patent No. 2,891,227

David Crosthwait
Heating and Ventilation System Design
Patent No. 1,727,965

Richard DiMarchi
Insulin LisPro (Humalog)
Patent No. 5,514,646

Mildred Dresselhaus
Super Lattice Structures For Thermoelectric Devices
Patent No. 7,465,871

Benjamin Durfee
Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Mark I)
Patent No. 2,616,626

Ashok Gadgil
Water Disinfecting Device
Patent No. 5,780,860

Francis Hamilton
Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Mark I)
Patent No. 2,616,626

Charles Hull
Stereolithography (3-D Printing)
Patent No. 4,575,330

Clair Lake
Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Mark I)
Patent No. 2,616,626

Hedy Lamarr
Frequency Hopping Technique
Patent No. 2,292,387

Willis Whitfield
Clean Room
Patent No. 3,158,457