What do they make? Objects you design, or at least “co-design”.
It’s a very interesting concept, somewhat reminiscent of the approaches used by Shapeways, Ponoko and other consumer-oriented 3D print services.
Here’s the issue: printers can produce objects from 3D models, but where do the models come from? It turns out that you need quite a few skills to use complex 3D software to produce useful 3D models from scratch. Skills few consumers have, and even if they do, they probably don’t have time to use them.
The emerging solution seems to be to assist the consumer by partially building the model. New services provide software to select a base model and then the consumer customizes it by selecting colors, materials, size and shape variations, etc.
Automake is similar. Their software allows you to either select a “mould” or generate one using mathematical techniques. Then you select combinations of sub-shapes to “fill” the mold. The resulting artifacts are quite interesting.
While Automake appears to be a research project, it’s an intriguing idea that could possibly be made into a commercial consumer-oriented 3D print service. Imagine a vast library of moulds and “fills”, with the ability to combine all together into a variety of wild objects.