Material Refining

Material refining is the process by which raw, unprocessed materials are converted into other useful substances.


Processing magnetite ore. To the right of the material refinement interface, you can see ore processing machinery connected to a simple power grid.


  • Many of the raw materials acquired through mining, agriculture, and other primary industries require processing to be converted into useful substances.
  • Processing of raw materials requires specialized machinery. For example, raw ores (like magnetite) are processed into elemental metals (like iron) via ore processing machinery.
  • Electricity is required to run processing machinery.
  • The focus in this article is on mineral resources (ores and metals), but the same general principles apply to all raw materials that can be refined.

Material Refining Overview

To manufacture many items, materials are needed that cannot be directly extracted from the environment. Metals, a widely used class of manufacturing substances, are a prime example of this, in that they can’t be found directly in the world. Rather, elemental metals are acquired by mining various sorts of rock ores, which are then refined into metals. Elemental metals have a wide variety of uses, both directly in the production of items and as inputs in the synthesis of complex materials, like metal matrix composites and amorphous metals. We’ll simply focus on ore refining as our example in this article.

Material refining of any sort begins with acquiring some kind of raw material. When mining ores, it’s useful to understand the materials that are derived from their processing. Once again, the encyclopedia interface proves very useful here. Browsing materials and selecting the “Rock” material category will show you a list of OC’s ores. Clicking one of these, like magnetite in the screenshot below, will show yields of the particular ore.


Magnetite yields iron and carbon, making it a great base for steel production.

Once you know the yields from an ore type and have mined it, you can initiate a material refinement order by clicking on the button in the toolbar.


This button will launch the interface shown at the top of this article. From here, you’re shown available raw materials that can be refined. Once you specify a material to refine and a quantity to process, clicking the OK button will create a material refinement order.

If you have an available NPC with the “Initiate Material Processing” activity enabled on his work shift, the order will be executed. There are some mechanics that go into material refining, but the process works in the following way:

  1. Your material specialist will gather the designated materials and carry them to a material refining station. In this case, the magnetite will be picked up from its stockpile and carried to the ore processing station.
  2. The material specialist will deposit the raw material in the ore processing’ station’s input hopper.
  3. The specialist will then calibrate the equipment.
  4. The machinery will then process the raw material and produce the outputs, as long as it can draw sufficient electricity from the power grid.
  5. The amounts of processed materials produced depend on a variety of factors. These include:
    1. The quality of the machinery involved.
    2. The machinery’s level of maintenance.
    3. The specialist’s skill in calibrating the machinery.
  6. Orders will automatically be created to transport the processed outputs to appropriate stockpiles. Assuming you have an NPC on a work shift with the requisite transport activities enabled, the output materials will be retrieved and deposited, making them available for other purposes.

Magnetite, processed into iron and carbon.

Material Scientist Profession

It’s worth noting that the simple refining portion of material science is considered an intellectual, but mundane, activity. It helps to use some of your smarter NPCs for these tasks. Using intelligent, but consistent, NPCs for material refining activities will improve refinery calibration levels and yields.

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