Material synthesis is the process by which raw or refined materials are used to synthesize advanced substances.
- Many of OC’s materials, especially exotic ones, are produced by way of material synthesis.
- Material synthesis is different from material refinement.
- For material refinement, you’re taking an object that is made up of constituent materials and splitting it into those materials. For example, magnetite ore is modeled as 90% iron and 10% carbon by volume. Refining 100 units of magnetite converts it into 90 units of iron and 10 units of carbon.
- For material synthesis, a brand new material with new properties is created from one or more existing materials. For example, steel is made up of iron and carbon and is synthesized at a metallurgy station from these two elements. Steel has a new set of properties that differ from those of iron or carbon.
- Many technically advanced items require specialized materials to function. Material synthesis is a requisite for most advanced manufacturing.
- Material synthesis often consumes large amounts of electricity to produce small volumes of materials. It’s one of the driving factors behind development of an expedition’s energy infrastructure.
Material Synthesis Overview
The mechanics of material synthesis are similar to those of material refinement. Orders for synthesizing materials are created via the synthesize materials interface, a material scientist with the requisite activity enabled gathers input materials, calibrates machinery, electricity is drawn from the grid, and, after enough time has passed, the outputs are produced.
Let’s just consider the production of steel as a very simple case to demonstrate the merit of material synthesis. In OC, many manufacturing schematics simply call for some metal to be used in construction. In these cases, a player could use iron or steel to satisfy the manufacturing requirement, and the desired item will be produced as a result.
However, steel and iron have significantly different properties. One of the most obvious examples is in the materials’ mechanical durability ratings. Iron has a rating of 11.3, while steel has a rating of 18.9. That is a very significant difference in any application where mechanical durability matters. Let’s consider the assembly of an ore processing station. One of the subcomponents of the ore refinery is its agitator motor, which calls for metal to be used in its construction. The mechanical durability of the metal contributes to the refinery’s production rate, highlighted in the screenshot below.
Using steel instead of iron will produce a motor with far higher mechanical durability, which will result in faster, more efficient processing of ores. This example is simple, but gives an idea of how important material choices can be, and synthesized materials are engineered to have properties that vastly exceed those of their elemental counterparts. When you start to consider extremely critical item components, like machine gun barrels that resist deformation at high temperatures, the importance of synthesizing high performance materials becomes clear.