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A malfunctioning replicator aboard an Intrepid class.

Molecular Matrix Matter Replicators (or Replicator for short) can create virtually any sort of food or inanimate object seemingly out of thin air. They actually use a variant of transporter technology to transform raw material — usually a sterilized organic particulate suspension formulated for ease of use or recycled waste products — into other objects. This saves a ship the trouble of having to carry thousands of different types of foods or countless bins full of spare parts. Instead, crew members can simply replicate whatever they want. (Ships still carry supplies of crucial spare parts for times when the replicators are not functioning.)

Replicators which also have a dematerialization system installed can also serve as waste receptacles; waste placed into these can be dematerialized and returned to the central stock, ready to be replicated again.

Replicators are also an essential part of holodeck technology.

A quantum geometry transformational matrix is used to modify the matter stream. The computer which oversees the process can use any available stored pattern within this matrix; once the pattern has been impressed onto the matter stream, it is rematerialized into an almost perfect copy of the original patterned object.

Replicators are not perfect; they suffer from five major restrictions:

  • They can only produce objects stored in the ship’s computer’s memory banks. If an object or food is not in the computer, or a crew member doesn’t have a sample to scan in, the replicators cannot produce it.
  • The larger the item replicated, the greater the energy cost. Thus, standard procedure dictates that large items are produced one part at a time, instead of all at once, which can be time-consuming. Industrial replicators are better suited to producing large objects all at once.
  • Replicators cannot produce items at the quantum level of resolution used by transporters. Therefore, living beings cannot be replicated, nor can certain items such as some medicines, which require quantum-level resolution.
  • Some objects simply cannot be replicated for various other reasons. The most notable example is latinum, which explains its popularity as a medium of exchange.
  • Safety interlocks prevent users from creating dangerous items (such as poisons or explosives) or weapons without special authorization.


Food Replicators

As their name indicates, these replicators create food and drink. They have a menu of 4,500+ food and drink items. They are located in every set of crew quarters, on the bridge, in recreation facilities, and other appropriate areas of the ship.

Industrial Replicators

Industrial replicators produce spare parts and other inanimate objects. They range in size from units no larger than food replicators to ones with emitter pads about 25 meters on a side (planet-based industrial replicators can be much bigger). These are typically located in Engineering, and Shuttle and repair bays.

Some of the above information from Spacedock: The Advances Starship and Construction Manual ©2000 Steven S. Long.