Seed Factories

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An example of fully automated vehicle assembly. This represents the end point of a production chain included in a Seed Factory. Note the lack of human workers.


A Seed Factory is a new kind of production system with the potential to end material scarcity. It has two major differences from conventional factories: self-expansion and integration.

Like any factory, it makes useful end products. But part of the output can be used to make more equipment for the factory itself. In that case total capacity can grow exponentially. The "Seed" is a starter set of equipment designed to grow in three ways:

  • Replication - making copies of their own parts so as to eventually copy the entire set.
  • Diversification - making parts for new equipment, thus expanding the range of possible outputs.
  • Scaling - making parts for larger (or smaller)equipment than what is in the starter set.

The factory is also designed as an integrated system. It brings together multiple production steps from raw materials and energy to finished items. Each part of the factory produces resources needed by the other parts to function, making it self-sustaining. If these parts are all in one place, the whole production chain can take advantage of automation and robotics. Integrated processes can also take waste outputs from one step, and use them as inputs for another. The combination results in a highly efficient design.

As the factory expands, it can produce a growing variety of products for end users. As it diversifies it can also make an increasing percentage of parts for its own growth. The small size and relative simplicity of the starter kit makes it low cost, while the much larger capacity it evolves to can produce a high income. Combined with the low operating cost from integrated processes and automation, this type of system should be very desirable on an economic basis.

Although it is a new way to organize production, Seed Factories build on past experience in fields like Industrial Technology and Engineering. This Wikibook will describe the concept of Seed Factories in more detail, methods for designing them, and give several design examples. It is being written as part of a project to build the first working Seed Factory prototypes.

Table of Contents[edit]

1.0: Introduction[edit]

2.0: Concept History and Development[edit]

  1. Research & Development

3.0: Design Concepts[edit]

  1. Motivations and Economics
  2. Technical Concepts
  3. New Ideas
  4. Reference Architecture

4.0: Design Process[edit]

  1. Functional Analysis & Allocate Requirements
  2. Alternatives & System Modeling
  3. Production Processes
  4. Equipment Types

5.0: Personal Production[edit]

  1. Requirements
  2. Functions
  3. Allocation
  4. Modeling and Alternatives
  5. Starter Set
  6. Operations Flows

6.0: The MakerNet[edit]

  1. Requirements

7.0: Industrial Production[edit]

8.0: Remote and Difficult Locations[edit]

9.0: Conceptual Design Notes[edit]

page 1: General Notes || Notes for Section 5.0 - Community Factory: Requirements, Functions
page 2: System Modeling
page 3: Alternatives, Habitation, Transport, Production Technologies
page 4: Production Alternatives
page 5, page 6, page 7: Develop Alternatives
page 8: Design Baseline
page 9: Notes for Section 7.0 - Distributed Production Network
page 10: Notes transferred from Space Transport Wikibook