Hull originally developed additive layer manufacturing to help an ailing automotive industry regain a competitive advantage. After years of failed attempts, Hull successfully printed a teacup in March 1983, and he went on to file a patent for stereolithography and found 3D Systems in 1986. 

The award programme was established in 1997 by George Keremedjiev, founder and director of the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman, Montana.  

"Seemingly a week cannot pass by without the mention of 3D printing for advanced manufacturing in both the general and technical media," Keremedjiev said. "It is, bar none, the 'hottest' technology for modern and future manufacturing in the world. In fact, much of President Obama's and the Congress' manufacturing initiatives centre themselves around the proliferation of Mr Hull's invention (3D printing)."

Hull commented on the award. "I am deeply honoured to receive the distinguished Stibitz Award alongside innovators who have changed the world and improved the human condition in unimagined and powerful ways. From the get-go, I imagined that 3D printing would significantly change design and manufacturing as we know it, but I could not have anticipated the profound impact the technology would have on everything in our lives. It is both humbling and exhilarating to be a part of this incredible transformation."