From Growing Horizons

In the late 20th and the early years of the 21st century it was believed nanotechnological fabrication would eventually be managed by giant swarms of microscale 'nanomachines' that could disassemble and then reassemble large, complex objects. The control and energy supply systems of such machines had always been a big problem of this approach however.

Instead modern Fabricator technology is something that can best be described as the logical improvement on the 3D additive manufacturing processes developed during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. While these technologies have started out by 'printing' 3D objects with heated polymers in layers of 0.1mm, modern fabricators are capable of layering down single atoms one by one and assemble many structures this way.

Fabricators have their disadvantages compared to more convention production technologies. Fabricators are more or less bound to their own fabrication resolution and through that in fabrication speeds. A small scale Fabricator is fully capable of fabricating an entire solid state personal assistance device\footnote{Smartphones, Tablets, Wristcomps}, but they need a relatively long time for the production of a single device. These small Fabricators can also fabricate objects made of organic tissue, like wood, but it is impossible to fabricate living tissues. Larger Fabricators however can produce the entire truss structure of a spacecraft out of Grade 350 high strength maraging steel, but is unable to produce any small structures, like a personal assistance device.

Any fabricating process is comparably slow and energy intensive, making more conventional production technologies more attractive where high volume and low costs are important. As such conventional foundries or semiconductor plants still have their place.

Still small Fabricators can be used to fabricate the parts of large scale Fabricators and could, under AGI oversight, be used to construct Von Neuman probes. Currently[1] there are talks to produce a limited number of AGI controlled spacecraft with complex Fabricator systems to prepare extrasolar planets for human settlement.


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