machines en UM's futuristic printers can print out 3D objects <p>Some printers at the University of Michigan can make unusual prints.</p><p>Machines&nbsp; in the University's 3D Lab can produce three-dimensional sculptures, car parts and even model human body parts. A student or faculty member can design a model, take it to the U-of-M's 3-D lab and leave hours later with their object in hand.</p><p>Here's how it works:<br><br>A student or faculty member designs a model on a computer. Technicians send the design to the refrigerator-sized machine, then a mechanical arm applies layers of material in cross-sections that slowly build up the model.<br><br>The machines layer plaster or heated plastic models as large as basketballs. Thu, 27 Dec 2012 22:22:30 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 10423 at UM's futuristic printers can print out 3D objects Lights-Out Machining: You Go Home, the Machines Keep Working <p></p><p>Imagine going home out at night while your computer keeps doing your job. That&rsquo;s the basic idea behind a trend in manufacturing called &ldquo;lights-out machining.&rdquo; You punch out. The machines keep working. It&rsquo;s a way to make a lot more product with a lot fewer people &hellip; and fewer jobs. Here&rsquo;s the story of two Michigan companies that are trying to boost productivity and stay competitive by turning out the lights and going home.</p><p>First, a little perspective. Man&rsquo;s love/hate relationship with automation has been around a long time. Take the <a href="" target="_blank">1936 classic Modern Times</a>.</p><p>Charlie Chaplin is in a frenzy. He&rsquo;s tightening bolts on the factory line. The boss straps him into a person-feeding machine, so his hands can keep working while his mouth eats lunch. It&rsquo;s a nightmare of productivity, where men are captive to machines. But manufacturers today have a different vision.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;At the end of the shift, my operators go home. Their machines continue running in the building with nobody in it,&rdquo; says John Hill.</p></blockquote><p>Hill owns a small business called <a href="" target="_blank">Midwest Mold Services</a>. The company designs and builds metal molds for plastic parts. These parts wind up in cars, medical devices, and even as the emblem on the back of a Cadillac. Hill says in the old days, shaping these metal molds was a job for one machine and one operator. Wed, 14 Sep 2011 16:06:19 +0000 Kate Davidson 4150 at Lights-Out Machining: You Go Home, the Machines Keep Working