Material Fabrication Technology, also known as "Replicators", "Fabricators", or "Makers", are a wonder of 24th century science that has its roots in the "3D Printers" of the early 21st century. They are complex, computer-guided devices that take nanoscopically small bits of matter from bulk containers and assemble them together into objects of desired shape and texture. The replicator hardware varies in design, but what they have in common is that they use a series of microspopic emitters to fire ultra-fine streams of matter at a target area, using a combination of micro-force fields and particle beams to guide the molecules of matter into a three dimensional frame and then bond them together into a stable form.
All replicators require base elemental matter to work from; while they can rearrange atoms to form new molecules, and assemble those molecules into nearly any desired shape, they cannot transmute one kind of element into another.
Replicators typically assemble matter at the molecular level, but if needed they can assemble matter at the atomic level; they can even combine elements into highly complex compounds, creating organic substances. Living cells can also be pre-grown and assembled by replicators into living tissues for medical applications. This technology is widespread in any spacefaring culture, spanning all known species, and is indispensable in modern industry. Most larger starships will have at least simple replicators installed onboard, allowing the manufacture of food as well as simple replacement parts for the spacecraft.
The converse of a replicator is a recycler, a device that breaks down waste matter to the molecular (or atomic) level and stores it in bulk matter containers where it can be used later.
Replicators are rated according to four Types based upon their degree of speed and sophistication.
Each Type represents a step in the evolution of material fabrication technology, the subsequent types being more advanced than the previous; a replicator of a higher type can in principal create anything that can be created by a replicator of a lower type.
Each Type of replicator has particular uses within one of three applications: Industrial, Food, and Medicine. Technically any replicator can function in each application, but people tend to prefer to keep the applications separate. It's not very appealing to order up a meal from a machine that one just used to fabricate a pair of blue jeans.
Crude, bulk replicators, the earliest examples of the technology. Steady and reliable, but only capable of making fairly simple constructs. Very widespread across the poorer colonies in Confed space but obsolete the core Confed worlds as well as in Selven and Talesian territories.
Industrial Applications: Manufacturing simple tools and machine parts. Generally nothing with moving parts, any separate parts are assembled post-fabrication. Fabricated objects can be made from any variety of plastic, ceramic, metal, or stone. Complex compounds are generally difficult for these machines to produce. Capable of creating sheets of synthetic fabrics but not complete items of clothing, only pieces that have to be sewn together.
Food Applications: Capable of producing nutritious foodstuffs, if lacking in complex flavor. Food produced by Type I Nutri-Mats tends to be something akin to porridge or, with less water, tofu or noodles. With more protein added the stuff has a distinctively meaty taste and odor, though it is not any sort of identifialbe meat. They can also produce dry kibble, which keeps for a longer time.
Medical Applications: Medical Fabri-Mats are capable of producing simple surgical instruments, gauze and bandages, antiseptic, saline and glucose for IV solutions. Also capable of producing simple surgical implants to replace joints and bones.
Replicators of a fair quality, these are a considerable improvement over the Type I. Faster and more flexible, capable of more complex fabrications, these machines have rapidly taken the place of Type I replicators across Confed space and are fairly commonplace.
Industrial Applications: Manufacturing complex tools, with moving parts already in place. Capable of making composite materials and simple elecronic devices. Also capable of creating complete sets of clothing made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, vinyl, rayon, etc.
Food Applications: These Nutri-Mats are capable of producing better quality foods, with improved textures and flavors. Generally of a quality similar to highly processed frozen foods....flavorful and even somewhat appealing aethetically, but in no danger of fooling anyone into thinking that it's anything other than fabricated food product. Passable for use in the home but not the sort of thing that would be featured in a restaurant.
Medical Applications: Useful for producing synthetic plasma for any variety of species. Can synthesize a greaty variety of drugs. Capable of producing complex prosthetics and implants.
Replicators of a very good quality, these are usually the top of the line models across known space. They are common in Selven and Talesian territories but are still somewhat rare in Confed space due to their expense; however they are catching on fast.
Industrial Applications: These high grade Fabri-Mats are capable of manufacturing higly complex tools with intricate moving parts and embedded electronics. They can make exotic composite materials with nanoscopic structures. They can manufacture clothing made out of synthetic organic fibers, almost flawlessly simulating cotton, wool, silk, leather and fur.
Food Applications: Capable of creating food that is nearly indistinguishable from natural food. The textures of meat and vegetables is flawlessly reproduced, as well as delicate and complex flavors. Food fabricated from these Nutri-Mats could be served in fine restaurants without complaint.
Medical Applications: Capable of creating whole blood as well as cloning sample cells to fashion replacement organs and body parts. These medical Fabri-Mats can create complex cybernetic implants and prosthetic limbs that are nearly indistinguishable form the real thing.
Ultra-precision replicators, bleeding-edge technology only starting to become used in the better developed Talesian worlds and within the Talesian military. Using a matrix of nanoscopic forcefield projectors orchestrated by a highly sophisticated computer, the Type IV is capable of rapidly assembling materials at the atomic level. This replicator requires a minimum of moving parts, making it more compact than other types. They are capable of producing finer quality products than even the Type III replicators, and do so much faster. Where a Type III might take five minutes to fabricate a gourmet meal, the Type IV would take under ten seconds. Where the Type III would take an hour to fabricate a fine quality pulse pistol, the Type IV could complete the job in under two minutes. Truly a superior work of technology.
Medical Applications: Type IV replicators can replicate complex segments of bone, tissue, and even biological organs fully compatible with the donors DNA. A type IV medical replicator can replicate and repair damaged spinal columns and even organic digits and limbs. These replicators, while highly advanced are still limited to the inability to recreate nerual pathways and brain matter and create organic life.
Fabri-mats and Nutri-mats in the ConfederationEdit
In Confed space the replicator market was cornered early on by Savant Corporation, which sought to bring this form of convenience to every home in the galaxy. There have been many rival devices produced over the centuries, but Savant's efforts have the most name recognition.
The standard brand name for replicators used for industrial and medical applications is the Fabri-Mat. Fabri-Mats come in a great variety of sizes, ranging from a coffee maker-sized unit that creates small household items, to huge industrial models that craft parts used to build starships.
The food-serving variaton of the replicator is commonly called the Nutri-Mat. Nutri-Mats also come in a variety of sizes, usually being no smaller than a microwave oven, but the larger models found in restaurants can be big enough to prepare a dozen meals at once. They vary greatly in complexity from type I to type III; with the complexity and price of the unit deciding how complex and good of quality items it can create and how fast it can create it. As of such, the term of "replicator" is nearly non-exsistant among terrans with the more common term being either a Nutri-mat or Fabri-mat instead. Type I and II are the most common consumer and industrial Nutri-mats and Fabri-mats whereas Type III are the higher end Nutri-mats seen in finer food establishments or with individuals with a good amount of wealth.
All Nutri-mats and Fabri-mats are fueled by individual user-replaceable bulk matter tanks which provide the element resouces in their raw forms. As such, certain programs may require the user to insert different cartridges to convert a unit that fabricates clothing into one that can produce firearms. The higher quality a replicator is the more matter cartridges it can support and thus the more patterns it can create at once without having to swap cartridge sets.
Commercially-available models of replicators in the Confederation have built-in safety measures that prevent them from creating illegal substances, including illicit drugs, poisons, or weapons.
Most Nutri-mats are standalone and self-contained much like a printer. Military and Industrial Fabri-mats are often a bit more advanced then consumer models and share a common resource tank or reserve which is fed directly by a recycler unit and can be used to refill the matter cartridges without having to purchase new ones at a recylcing center.
A seperate device, known as a recycler, composter, or De-Mat breaks down waste matter into it's base components and compacts it into solid pellets for disposal. These pellets are then exchanged to a recycling center for a deposit or discount on new cartidges for the Nutri-mat.
Replicators in the Talesian Star RepublicEdit
In the Republic, replicators are reffered to as replicators with no brand name attached. Since the boundaries between different corperations within the Republic are a little more transparent, common resources such as replicators are refered to by a generic name assigned to them by the Talesian government.
Like their Terran counterparts, Talesian replicators come in a vast array of different sizes, ranging from small portable units the size of a coffee maker up to enormus industrial replicators capible of producing starship components. The most common size for civillan use has an output slot roughly the size of a small refrigerator.
Talesian Replicators and Terran Nutri-mats, while both operate on the same underlying principal have several differences in how they operate and store base components, as well as how they break down and recycle elements. Talesian replicators are all dual-mode. They operate both as a replicator and a composter and can be switched into either mode through the control panel.
Quality and grading of Talesian ReplicatorsEdit
The standard Talesian replicator conforms to a strict series of building protocols or "Marks". When one mark is considered obsolete it is no longer produced and simply replaced and upgraded with the newer model to ensure uniformity and full compatibility with the patterns available to it. Backwards compatibility is supported to a point, but after a certain date older replicators would become incompatible with the current matter-conduit and data networks making them obsolete.
Mark I and mark II replicators were ancient type I replicators which became obsolete in the mid 22nd century. Mark III and Mark IVs are the predacessors to modern Talesian replicators and are comperable to a type II Nutri-mat and are still common and in operation on some of the less devloped Talesian colonies such as Adhara.
Mark V and VI replicators are the mainstay of current Talesian replicators. They conform closely to the standards of a type III replicator denoted within the Confederation. While this level of sophistication is rare in the confederation it is the standard among the Talesian Star Republic.
Mark VII replicators are among the bleeding edge of Replicator technology in Neospace and can create very complex organic items including living tissue and organs. They are among the first replicators that can be considered type IV replicators on the universal scale. The most common useage for Mark VII replicators is within the Talesian Medical Order. A mark VII medical replicator can graft a section of skin, bone, or even organs from a sample of tissue and DNA from the host; truely a remarkable piece of technology. It cannot however, replicate life. They are also significantly faster then a Mark V or VI and thus able to create vital components where time is a very sensitive matter, another reason they are becoming widely used within Talesian Hospitals and Infirmaries.
Distribution of raw materialsEdit
Unlike Terran Nutri-mats most Talesian Replicators, with the exception of smaller portable units, are not standalone units and are hooked up to a central grid and fed matter through high-speed plasma-conduits which lie underneath a city, colony, or onboard a starship. Each unit is also connected to a data network which allows them to download patterns, upgrade software and firmware, and monitor a user's useage on both how much matter is being consumed but also what patterns are being downloaded and loaded and what items are being created.
Bulk matter is housed in a central production facility akin to a natural gas or water reserve. It is then broken down and excited into a plasma state and transfered through high-speed magnetic conduits to a consumer's unit where it is transfered back into a solid state and held in an internal storage tank or buffer. Once the items ordered are created, any unused material is broken down into a plasma form and sent back to the processing center. Therefore most civilian replicators operate as a utility much like electricty. Consumers pay a monthly matter useage utility bill for what matter they use either as having a quota cap of how much matter they can use per month or a more expensive cost per volume.
Restaurants, department stores, industrial fabrication factories and large corperations can often negotiate for special plans which allow them a much higher quota for a monthly fee of specific base elements relevant to what they are using the most of. The effect of which is going out to eat or going shopping at a physical brick and motar store still exsists within Talesian society as it is often cheaper then creating the item at home, and said stores often have acess to much larger replicator slots with the ability of creating larger items faster.
When switched to compost mode, a replicator breaks down the core elements of the materials it is fed and transfers the matter back into the matter stream to the material processing plant. Thus any waste matter is recycled quickly and seamlessly leaving no debris or clutter for the end user.
Portable replicators do exsist and include a small internal matter-storage tank which and can be recharged at a compatible mattersource by hooking them up to a matter transfer conduit. The most common useage of portable replicators is aboard smaller civillian transports such as shuttle-craft and small freighters capible of short to mid-range transport. Larger longer range vessels such as naval capital starships and colony ships would have their own central storage facility to run multiple replicators off of.
Control over data patterns and items createdEdit
As discussed earlier, most Talesian replicators conform to a Mark V or Mark VI build and are fully compatible with all patterns available for either model. In practice, any Talesian replicator could produce guns, starship components, or dangerous chemicals and biological toxins. Control over what is replicated comes in two tiers: both in denial of resources and tightly encrypted data patterns.
Consumer replicators are hard-coded with special firmware to allow only certain items to be produced. In addition, only certain patterns are available for purchase to civilians. Weapons for example are not included within a civillian firmware set, so the only way to produce a pulse-pistol from a consumer grade replicator would be with both a pirated data pattern AND hacked firmware. Additionally, the network layer would transmit the illegal modification and item creation to both the utility companies and authorities; shutting down the matterstream and reporting the crime. Hacked Talesian Replicators, while very powerful in what they can produce, are exceedingly rare for this reason because of all the security ranging from network activation, data encryption and firmware modification.