Technology: Nanofabrication

Nano-Fabrication: The real driver of the exodus, nanofabrication in its most common form takes the principle of a 3-D printer and adds the ability to extrude individual atoms. As the nozzle passes over the object being fabricated millions of microscopic machines on the head of the nozzle adhere atoms to the item in successive layers. Unfortunately this process is so delicate that it requires a sealed compartment with no free-floating particles, preferably hard vacuum though items that can’t handle vacuum may be fabricated in a neutral gas or distilled water. Still, most dwellings in the Federation have at least one nanofabricator that is approximately the size of a microwave for making food or appliances, the better off get one the size of a refrigerator. As they can make one hundred percent of their own parts and can extract most of the needed resources from dirt or waste products, hunger and homelessness, even ill health, are considered “not to happen” in the Core worlds. A major breakthrough in manufacturing was the advent of modular swarms, small buglike robots that cooperated to nanofabricate large objects. Small bots in a swarm had nanofab heads, others gathered raw materials from the environment, and yet another category, the vast majority of any swarm, interlocked with one another to enclose the entire operation in a nano-friendly enviroment. And they were self-replicating. A small “starter swarm” of one gatherer, one fabber, and two dozen or so containers could become thousands given time and resources. Unfortunately swarms are much slower than conventional nanofabricators, so they are generally only used if the owner cannot afford an enclosed device in the necessary size. A shipyard with industrial-scale nanofabricators can produce a starship in a matter of months, a swarm takes years if not decades, but many wannabe tramp traders are willing to wait. Starships often have nanofabricators that can be bootstrapped into portable factories, capable of generating a showroom full of trade goods, a fleet of drones, or enough pre-fab structures to house a colony.

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