Fully and Rapidly Replicable Factories Video

Fully and Rapidly Replicable Factories will be the highest impact economic development ever made. They will be more important than the wheel, computers or fire. Once one is made that can make another factory in two years or less then we will be able expand humanity by one million times and fill up the solar system by 2100.

Doubling every two years mean forty years after the first doubling we will have one million factories producing 100 million Starships and 10 trillion Teslabots per year.

Elon Musk has hinted at this capability. connecting the dots on his statements adds up to fully and rapidly replicable factories on Mars. Replicable factories means filling Mars with factories and production to colonize hundreds of Asteroids and to mass-produce space stations.

Elon has said
* Fully and Rapidly Reusable Rocket is the Holy Grail
* Manufacturing is Tesla’s Long Term Advantage
* The Machines that Make the Machines
* The Factory is the product
* Raw materials in and products out of the Gigafactory
* Teslabot is the most important product
* Goal is for Mars to be self-sufficient (perhaps by the 2050s)

A self-sufficient Mars is one that can make everything that we can make on Earth. Mars would have to be able to make more Starships and they would have to be able to make Starship factories and vehicle factories.

I have another article that describes some of the work by NASA and the Mars society on how we can make steel, aluminum, glass, fuel, any plastic, water, oxygen and many other materials and products on Mars.

Self-sufficient Mars is the first part of the statement – Fully replicable factories.

Then the rapid part is speeding things up. Tesla, SpaceX and Elon are all about speeding up and ramping up production.

39 thoughts on “Fully and Rapidly Replicable Factories Video”

  1. Seed factory ISRU stuff versus a clanking replicator, which would be a better terminology for you?

  2. Many more factory functions, and processes can be automated beyond what is currently done, but I think basic machine tools, like lathes, and milling machines may be a sticking point.

    I was a field engineer for machine tool makers, and importers/dealers. Most of my work involved CNC lathes, milling machines, and grinders. These are the "mother machines" that make the most precisely flat/round/thick co-linear, co-planar, spaced features of other machines.

    Once the castings are machined, and ground, the final adjustment for precision of parts produced is done in a painstaking "by hand" in a multiple step process done with dyes, and with a diamond tipped scraper, pushed with your hip, and numerous gages to check final alignment.

    Then there is repairing, or "realigning" them when something goes wrong, or as parts that ride on ways wear, or when linear bearings need replacement . After all, we're talking about 0.001 mm positioning on some machine tools.

    As far as I know, there's no way to automate this manufacturing process, and most humans couldn't learn in a reasonable amount of time, if ever. Maybe the last thing to go into mass production in orbit will be machine tools.

  3. It's better.. But even if you could shrink the weight of the chain of factories, how much weight would you start with?

    Let's for be generious and assume that you only need 1% of earths factories to sustain the production of new factories. That would be about 100 000 factories, on earth. Now let's assume you could shrink these factories by a factor of 100. That would still leave us with hauling 1000 factories to Mars or to space!

  4. I think you are underestimating the difficulty by several orders of magnitude. Let's just take mass spectroscopy for starters.

    Mass spectroscopy separate atoms with an electric field and you get some hundreds or thousands of atoms. So the energy consumption would be many orders of magnitude greater per unit mass. Say, to be generous, 10^5 times more. This would mean that you would need 10^5 more energy per kilo copper, or about 10^5 kWh. And that is just for 1 kilo of copper… How many solar panels would you have to make just to sustain the production of *one kilo of copper*? And how long would your "spectrometer" last?

    How would you vaporize the material in you spectometer without wearing it out? A laser? Well then you have to make more lasers, so strike that. An electric arc? Yes, but then your would need som kind of electrodes, and you need so much electrodes (carbon?) that the production of them would by itself be a challenge.

    Now Brett, this von Neuman factory is only attractive in theory. It's a mathematical plaything, with no connection to reality.

  5. It oversimplifies to just call it a "factory". What we need is a collection of automated machines that can together do:

    1. mining
    2. refining (including synthesis of materials)
    3. manufacture (including chip fabs)
    4. transportation
    5. maintenance
    6. energy generation (probably fission, possibly solar or fusion)
    7. food production (for when the humans move in, later)

    Each of those are currently industries where automation is increasing. Once you have fully autonomous robots doing all 7, then you send a "seed" collection of robots to the moon / Mars / asteroids, and they grow exponentially and colonize the solar system for us. Then it's easy for humans to move into their luxurious mansions awaiting them on the planets, moons, and orbits.

    It will take longer than I'd like to achieve all 7 being fully autonomous and working together autonomously. But I think it's inevitable that we'll reach it. And then everything changes.

  6. If you view people as self replicating bio-robots, there is absolutely
    no difference, the problem is that you have to provide the factories with the capital to buy resources, at least on earth.

  7. RepRap on an industrial scale. We will need it. In fact, we already do.

    Going by the technological singularity theory of history, the next one (and it needn't involve self-replicating yet) should be due centered somewhere on 2025. (30 years following the Web, which came 60 years after electronics, which came 120 years after the industrial revolution, which came about 240 years after the printing press, etc. all the way back to animal husbandry, fire, and tool use. Where the prime condition is that people living before one are almost incapable of imagining what life will be like after one.

    Anyhow, barring sudden, early, and unexpected discovery of true AI or the fountain of youth (which I would guess at being 2040 and 2047, respectively, if still going with the technological singularity concept), my money (literally) is on the next one being full automation ("full" meaning it includes the cognitive element, as well as the physical).

    Of course, should all that come to pass, that would probably put true man-machine around 2050 and technological singularity with a capital "S" just 2 or 3 years later, when people begin to multi-thread their minds.

    Then networks of minds.

    An interstellar diaspora might then be driven more by individuals seeking to avoid being absorbed into a collective network than by anything having to do with resources.

    All of which fits in surprising well with Gott's predictions for human population using the Copernican Method.

  8. Right. The first one doesn't have to be great, compact, or even terribly efficient. That all can (and will) follow.

  9. It's an interesting technology, but does still require conductors, even if not as much.

  10. C-Motive electrostatic motors have done away with copper, magnets and iron in favour of conductive pins in dielectric fluid (and high voltage).

  11. It's possible, though, that with cheap enough launch capacity, you would just automate a huge quantity of conventional industry, and end up with a "clunking replicator" the size of a small city.

  12. I don't have much trouble imagining that, I'm a tooling engineer, designing factory machinery and the tools that run in it is my profession.

    Key, I think, is not trying to use optimized processes for everything, but instead doing things in the way that requires the least variety in terms of materials and machines. It would be very energy intensive, for instance, but you could refine basically every element you need by mass spectroscopy. I can think of some other refining processes that would be highly versatile, but aren't used because more specialized systems are more efficient.

    The sheer scale of our industry allows the use of highly specialized processes and machinery to be economically justified. A self-replicating factory would use more general and less efficient processes.

    Manufacturing polyethylene from carbon dioxide and water is something people have already worked out processes for, and oriented long chain polyethylene is "spectra", a very high performance engineering polymer, useful for structural purposes and as insulation. Used as a binder for screened soil, polyenthylene can also be used to make bricks and a variety of structural members, and is suitable for 3d printing in the pure form. I believe it's going to be an important material on Mars.

  13. The problem you describe is dependent upon scarcity, whether of material or place, territory. Planet chauvinists are stuck, in their imagination at least, on planets, and there is no solution. Except Janov. Or understanding O'Neill. Or both!

  14. Without the distractions of Moon and Mars planet surface, this is O'Neill long term. Give people a reason to have babies, not teach them they are a burden to the limits of planets. Prevent abortions by supporting O'Neill. I have encouraged people to have as many babies as possible for decades. I was right.

  15. All of the steps you mention are easier in Space. Do as much as possible there, as soon as possible. The full self replicators will struggle in a limited planet situation, esp with others, people or machine, around.

  16. How about 10 TVs? We kinda already know that ONE will be easier. You are missing the point of ISMRU, and the whole topic being discussed. BTW, what if the TVs are easier or only possible in micr0g? This exact question is burning for the decision as to whether we follow Musk and launch everything or establish Gateway micr0g lunar base in lunar orbit ready to consume the Moon.

  17. I think that it is nearly impossible. Just to make an electric motor… For simplicity's sake, lets assume that all chips would be imported from earth..

    You would have the copper in the windings wires in the windings, the magnetic iron in the core, the ball bearings, the metal shell. Just producing the copper wires you would need to mine copper, smelt it and draw it into wires. Then you would need some isolation covering the wires, so you would need to produce plastics as well. In addition, you would have to cast the shell…

    So, you have mining of copper, iron and carbon. A copper smelting and wire drawing as well as a polymer manufacturing plant. Already, this is pretty sizable, and we have just started looking at a "corner" of the electric motor.

    A factory probably consists of hundreds of thousands of parts; a car alone has about 10 000 parts, so hundreds of thousands of parts does not seem excessive. And now imagine how much and how different/varied production equipment you would need for the factory….

  18. Me, too. I'm more than a little hearing impaired, the tinnitus is pretty loud these days.

  19. No, it's not a genuine self replicating system unless it can do its own mining and processing, too.

  20. Self replication doesn't require intelligence, even bacteria manage to pull it off.

  21. It's way simpler to ship a TV on a spaceship than build the infrastructure to make all the components on a different planet. Anyway there is probably nothing to watch there anyway.

  22. Manufacturing should be demand driven. You don't want to land on Mars and find it has 1000s of Ford Model Ts when you want to drive a Tesla Model S.

  23. You have to pretend that the materials don't need to mined and processed by people though.

  24. Factories are not bugs. Even bugs meet constraints when they increase in numbers that stop their growth. If there is no economic case, factories will not be created no matter what is the cost of building them, Idiot. As production gets much cheaper, we need to think of how tailor and decrease its size to meet the needs of small self sufficient communities. There is no use in having a resource in abundance if it is still owned by the powerful few. Returning the means of production to the people allows them to reclaim their power and I don't mean it in the context of communism as the method that the communists have devised did not allow that to happen really.

  25. Self replicating factories are far from the most important economic development technology we can make. We could today produce massively more stuff than we currently do if we just tweaked our economic priorities a bit. We don't even need a self replicating factory to do it. The reason we don't is firms tend to produce at minimum efficient scale that's "good enough" to meet current human needs. In fact, ever since the 60s, the trend has been to produce things more efficiently or sustainably than it has been to produce just a massive quantity of stuff. We see evidence of this in capital expenditures which has remained relatively stagnant for decades while firms and individuals would rather spend their income to consume current services. No, the most important and consequential economic technology we can develop is AI paired with robotics and automation, which allows us to continue to produce things more efficiently, or at least with fewer and fewer human labor inputs.

  26. Micr0g ISMRU will never be done on Mars, or the Moon. Science will. At least Bezos' goal of majority of humans in Space by 2100 is no longer to be dismissed. Not by those also making it!

  27. I think you're exaggerating the capabilities a self-replicating factory needs.

    First, the advantage of self-replication is so great, you want the earliest possible self-replicating factory, not the best possible. You can work on improving it after you've got it replicating. Even the worst possible self-replicating factory is going to be producing a lot of useful stuff, after all. You can start adding capabilities that work off what it produces.

    That said, the factory does not have to be able to produce everything that's produced on Earth. It needs to produce everything that's part of the factory. Which can be a deliberately minimized subset of everything made in Earthly factories.

    The analogy I make, is that you're not trying to recreate the rainforest. You're trying to recreate the lichen. Once the lichen break the rock down into soil, you can introduce the higher plants. But you want to start with the simplest possible self-replicating factory, not the best.

    Maybe it only makes 5 sizes of motors, instead of 5,000. Maybe it only makes steel ball bearings, not ceramic ones. The magnets are iron or AlNiCo, not NdFeB. The semiconductors are all silicon, not GaAs, and at an older node spacing. The thing is to "close the loop", have it make ALL its parts.

    Then you can design the machine to build the better stuff, out of the older stuff. Recapitulating the original evolution of modern technology.

  28. No, those still scale the product to the number of people; They're multipliers, where self-replicating factories are exponentiators.

  29. I thought technologies aimed at augmenting or supplanting human brain power like AGI in the knowledge intensive sectors would have the highest impact economic development ever.

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