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Seth Landman

“The Thing,” “The Fly” and the Best Body Horror Movies Ever

replicator technology star trek

Forty years ago, John Carpenter released a horror movie called The Thing . In the early ‘80s, Hollywood seemed to be extremely interested in extraterrestrial life and the not-quite-human: in 1982 alone, three of the top 30 movies were E.T. , Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Blade Runner . 

The Thing , which is about a parasitic alien lifeform capable of mimicking other living organisms, was not as successful. It barely beat out its $15 million budget at the box office. It doesn’t have the sweetness or the optimism of E.T. ; it doesn’t have the world-building narrative charm of a Star Trek movie; it doesn’t have the cool, sci-fi crispness of Blade Runner . 

And yet here we are celebrating The Thing after four decades, because it has a long-lasting popularity that makes it nearly the equal of those aforementioned films. What it has instead of all of the stuff those other movies have is blood, guts and gore. It’s a body horror movie, which means it showcases grotesque changes to the human form. 

Body horror movies have an appeal that’s hard to explain in words, but is immediately understandable to anyone who has ever, for example, popped a zit. Movies —  The Thing among them — create a fantasy space where we can imagine the limits of what the human form can endure. Movies are thought experiments, narrative hypotheses. We wonder what would happen if… And we get lost in the possibilities of that. 

Body horror movies also seem to endure over time. The movies on this list were not often the biggest blockbusters when they came out, but they’ve gathered followers over the years. Something in them makes our skin crawl but that something also sticks with us — and we keep going back. Body horror movies are like the little sore in your mouth that you can’t stop touching with your tongue. But don’t worry! They’re just movies, right?

Dark Passage (1947)

replicator technology star trek

Before we get into proper body horror films, I wanted to shout out this gem from 1947 by the great director Delmer Daves. It’s the story of a man who escapes from prison after being wrongfully convicted for murdering his wife. It’s also one of the four great movies that the real-life movie-star couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together, and it’s worth watching for that reason alone. 

But what makes this movie really great is that for the first third of it, we see everything from the perspective of Vincent Parry (Bogart). That means we never see his face until — due to a convenient plot twist — he gets some shady plastic surgery in the middle of the night and a couple weeks later is revealed to look like, well, Humphrey Bogart. It’s a great movie joke — having Bogart play an unseen man who does not look like Bogart until he does. 

And yet there’s something creepy about it — about imagining someone’s face being altered to look like an entirely new person. It never sits quite right, and it’s part of what gives us the nagging sense that something’s wrong all the way through the film. Dark Passage has a happy ending, but to me it’s proto-body horror for the way it makes me squirm at the manipulation of the human form.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

replicator technology star trek

I thought about including the 1978 remake of this film, but the purist in me wants to go with the original here. This movie, directed by Don Siegel, is an absolute masterpiece of the genre, and really as a movie, period. It concerns an alien invasion and involves plant seed pods that are able to grow exact visual copies of human beings. These “pod people” are devoid of life and personality — they just kind of wander around. 

There are two classic body horror things going on in Invasion of the Body Snatchers . One is just the idea that the people you see walking around might be possessed by some other intelligence that has stripped them of their agency or selfhood. That’s scary enough. But the other body horror element is the pods themselves. They’re gross! 

The Blob (1958)

replicator technology star trek

We have no choice but to include The Blob , which also has the distinction of being the first starring role in the career of Steve McQueen, one of the greatest action stars of all time. The Blob is one of many movies in which some sort of alien goo crashes on Earth and begins expanding. In this case, the goo begins eating people and growing bigger and bigger as a result. 

Honestly, the technical capacity of filmmakers in the ‘50s means The Blob feels a little quaint in comparison to more recent body horror movies. Nevertheless, the idea absolutely works. The director, Irvin Yeaworth, shows us the titular blob only here and there — a mass of red, vaguely pulsing. Like all great horror directors though, he knows that what we don’t see is more terrifying. With this in mind, so much of the body horror is revealed to us through the reactions the characters have to what they see around them. 

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

replicator technology star trek

We wrote about this movie in our “Bad Dads” Father’s Day roundup recently, but it deserves mention here for being the flagship film in the demonic pregnancy genre of body horror. It’s the story of Rosemary (Mia Farrow), a woman whose husband does the unthinkable and gives his family over to a satanic cult. 

Part of body horror is imagining that there’s something terrible inside of you, unseen. Rosemary’s Baby , as Rosemary’s paranoia mounts, makes you feel that fear to a sublime degree. It’s a film about possession and invasion, but, most troublingly, it’s also a film about choice. Rosemary doesn’t get to choose what’s happening inside of her body, and the decision she makes at the end of the movie shows the limitless capacity of a mother’s love.

Eraserhead (1977)

replicator technology star trek

Another movie dealing with the emotional weight of parenthood, Eraserhead is nearly impossible to explain, plot-wise. It’s a dreamlike nightmare from the master of psychological horror, David Lynch. In fact, it was his first film, and that it was made as he himself was going through the emotional experience of raising a very young child is pretty creepy and troubling to consider.

The body horror elements are in the details. At dinner, a chicken that’s about to be carved moves and spurts blood, for example. The child itself is inhuman, reptilian and screaming. It really is a nightmare, but Lynch films can’t be experienced as simple narratives. It’s a curated series of moving images designed to unsettle and confuse you. It’s experimental, but the feeling in the end is pure body horror, as we are left deep in thought about the oddness of our physical selves. 

Altered States (1980)

replicator technology star trek

One of the greatest performances by recently deceased movie star William Hurt was this hallucinogenic classic from 1980. Hurt plays Eddie Jessup, a psychopathologist at Columbia University who ends up using psychoactive drugs and sensory deprivation tanks to explore the limits of human consciousness. 

The results — this is a body horror movie, after all — are pretty horrifying. Jessup starts to experience the externalization of his visions; the things happening in his mind end up getting transferred into the real world. He begins to regress, turning into more and more primitive forms of life and consciousness. It’s wonderfully spooky to consider the possibility of your imagination becoming real — intoxicating and terrifying all at once. That’s what makes this movie such an exciting ride.

The Fly (1986)

replicator technology star trek

As far as I’m concerned, David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly is the archetype of the body horror genre. You could include lots of Cronenberg’s films here: Shivers , Rabid , The Brood , Scanners , Videodrome and a whole bunch of other films he’s made over the course of his career are body horror classics. The Fly is, in some ways, the simplest though. It asks: what happens if, by accident, you cross a man with a fly?

Jeff Goldblum plays Seth, a weirdo scientist who’s working on a bit of technology involving the teleportation of matter between two pods. Geena Davis is Ronnie, a journalist he ropes into covering his experiments. You’re not going to believe this, but Seth ends up trying to transport himself, and a fly buzzes into the pod at that exact moment. And then we’re off to the races. 

The movie gets to play with the classic elements of body horror: grotesque physical changes, experiments gone too far. It also gets to have some fun though. As Seth becomes more fly-like, he craves sugar and becomes inhumanly strong. In predictable fashion, he gets excited about the changes before he becomes afraid, but it’s too late. 

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

replicator technology star trek

I don’t know if I’m recommending you watch Tetsuo: The Iron Man if you haven’t, but I can’t make a list of body horror movies without including it. It’s an incredibly low-budget independent Japanese film by Shinya Tsukamoto, and although it’s pretty brief — the run time is just over an hour — it’s a real ordeal to go through. 

The basic idea is that a man who’s obsessed with adding metal to his body ends up creating a monster who becomes increasingly metallic in nature. The monster isn’t a glistening, smooth metallic creation like the T-1000 in Terminator 2 though. It’s hideous and deformed, with metal protrusions of all shapes and sizes. 

In the end, the spread of this monster threatens to take over the entire planet, which is always the fear in these body horror transformations. But really this is an experiment in moods — the film is so frantic that it’s nearly impossible to follow, and you start to feel as though you’re watching a nightmare. When the scope widens out to the entire world, it’s jarring. You might have hoped this problem was local, but it’s global, and that’s the scariest part. 

Mimic (1997) 

replicator technology star trek

This movie by visionary director Guillermo Del Toro deserves credit for flipping body horror tropes in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen elsewhere in movies. Instead of the humans being transformed, a novel species of cockroach evolves to mimic the look of humans. But this doesn’t mean the characters are dealing with walking, talking cockroaches. In fact, it’s much scarier.

The story is about a team of scientists, led by entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino). Alongside the CDC, the team creates a new species to eradicate the cockroaches in New York City, which are spreading a deadly disease that afflicts children. The new species is supposed to be unable to breed, but, as we learned in Jurassic Park a few years earlier, “Life finds a way.” It’s a real thrill-ride of a movie, but the scariest part is the way the new cockroaches, which have grown to be man-sized, can fold their wings to mimic a man’s face. I’m telling you: you will have shivers down your spine the first time you see it.

Titane (2021)

replicator technology star trek

We seem to have gone beyond the golden age of the body horror movie, but once in a while a new director comes along who carries on the legacy of body horror directors like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. The most recent is Julia Ducournau, who directed her debut feature film, Raw , in 2016. It’s about a veterinarian student who develops a taste for flesh, so, yes, Ducournau is squarely in the body horror zone.

Titane , which came out last year, is the story of a girl who has a metal plate put in her skull after experiencing a horrific car accident as a child. She grows up to be a serial killer who has, well — let’s just call it a strange relationship with metal. The movie is a terrifying masterpiece, and it makes me really excited to see what’s next for Ducournau, who is the daughter of a gynecologist and a dermatologist , if you can believe it. 

The truth is that we understand so little about ourselves. Titane is a terrifying vision, yes, but so is getting old, if you really think about it. Our bodies are so familiar to us, but also so strange sometimes. Body horror movies are one way of exploring that strangeness. They’re about learning to accept what we can’t change, about remaining mysterious to ourselves, and that’s why we’ll always come back to them. 


replicator technology star trek

Memory Alpha

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Galaxy-class replicator

A food replicator aboard a Galaxy -class starship

Replicated martini

A replicated martini materializes

A replicator , replicator system , replication system , or molecular synthesizer was a device that used matter-energy conversion technology similar to a transporter to produce almost anything from a ship's replicator reserves. ( TNG : " Lonely Among Us ", " Deja Q "; DS9 : " Visionary "; VOY : " Virtuoso "; ENT : " Dead Stop ") It was also capable of inverting its function, thus recycling the item. ( DS9 : " Hard Time ", " The Assignment ", " The Ascent ", " Prophet Motive ", " Nor the Battle to the Strong "; VOY : " Memorial ", " Fair Haven ", " Mortal Coil ") Items thus disposed of served to fuel the replicator and could potentially become other items in turn. ( VOY : " Year of Hell ") A replicator that was installed primarily for the purpose of replicating food was referred to as a food replicator , food synthesizer , food dispenser , or food slot , while one installed for replicating beverages was referred to as a drink replicator .

Replicators were one of the technologies used in holodecks and holosuites , as well as in exocomps and self-replicating mines . ( VOY : " The Cloud ", " Twisted ", " Dark Frontier ", " Pathfinder ", " Human Error "; TNG : " The Quality of Life "; DS9 : " Call to Arms ") They were commonplace among advanced Alpha Quadrant cultures like the United Federation of Planets , the Cardassian Union , and the Ferengi Alliance , but were largely unheard of in the Delta Quadrant , although a few species did possess them. ( VOY : " False Profits ", " State of Flux ", " Caretaker ", " Think Tank ")

Replicators were capable of producing food as fresh and tasty as non-replicated foodstuffs, inorganically materialized out of patterns used by the transporters . ( TNG : " Lonely Among Us ") Most people found replicated foods and drinks to taste exactly the same as "real" food, although some people claimed to be able to tell the difference. Furthermore, Federation replicators could be programmed to produce foodstuffs of acceptable "nutritional value" despite resembling more indulgent items. ( TNG : " The Price ", " Sins of The Father ", " The Wounded ", " Relics "; DS9 : " In the Pale Moonlight ", " You Are Cordially Invited ") Some people didn't learn to cook without a replicator. ( TNG : " Family ", " In Theory ", " The Wounded "; VOY : " Human Error ") Some smaller ships didn't bother to carry food or water, preferring to rely on their replicators to synthsize what they needed, which saved on space but caused problems if the replicator was damaged. ( TNG : " Final Mission ")

Once a meal was finished, the used dishes, utensils, and uneaten/inedible portions could be placed back inside the replicator to be automatically recycled .

Federation replicators often recycled waste produced by living beings – including fecal material – to provide the raw material for replicators. Such material was deconstructed down to the atomic level, and then recombined as needed into foodstuffs and other products. ( DIS : " There Is A Tide... ")

In addition to foodstuffs, replicators could be used for replicating an almost limitless range of other objects. Complex devices ( TNG : " The Game ", " The Child "; DS9 : " Rivals ", " Captive Pursuit "; VOY : " Phage ", " The Killing Game ", " Dark Frontier ", " Tsunkatse "), weapons ( DS9 : " Civil Defense ", " Inquisition ", " Call to Arms "; VOY : " Counterpoint ", " Flesh and Blood "), machine components ( DS9 : " Distant Voices ", " Image in the Sand "; VOY : " Extreme Risk ", " One Small Step ", " Latent Image "), clothing ( TNG : " The Survivors "; DS9 : " Distant Voices ", " Paradise "; VOY : " Caretaker ", " Vis à Vis ", " Someone to Watch Over Me ", " Flesh and Blood "), medication ( VOY : " Latent Image ", " Fury ", " Body and Soul "), coins ( TNG : " The Game ", " The Perfect Mate "), musical instruments ( TNG : " The Neutral Zone ", " Inheritance "), antique furniture ( VOY : " Lineage "), photographs ( VOY : " Human Error "), and a wide range of other items. Industrial replicators could even be used to replicate heavier machine parts, to help build factories, power plants etc. ( DS9 : " For the Cause ")

Users could program their own replication patterns into the replicator, such as a particular recipe for soup, a larger duplicate of a complex item, or an unusual device such as a wheelchair . Worf programmed an approximation of bloodwine into the USS Enterprise -D 's replicators. ( TNG : " The Outcast ", " Lessons ", " Gambit, Part II "; DS9 : " Rivals ", " Melora ", " Destiny "; VOY : " Fury ", " The Voyager Conspiracy ", " Once Upon a Time ") Elim Garak would program replicator patterns for clothing as he designed it. ( DS9 : " Distant Voices ") Replicators included built-in scanners, allowing someone to make copies of an item without understanding its internal workings. ( DS9 : " Rivals ")

Starfleet replicators kept logs of their use. ( TNG : " Remember Me ")

On some Starfleet vessels, the full range of meals programmed into replicators was limited to senior officers (at least Lieutenants and upwards) through the use of an access card, or certain areas only frequented by senior officers would have a replicator that could freely dispense higher quality recipes to anyone. Some types of meals were simply limited by volume, such as producing only one slice of pizza at a time. Limited recipes included gnocchi , fritters , lobster ravioli , macaroni and cheese with a breaded top, pasta with pesto , and lobster mac and cheese . ( LD : " Moist Vessel ", " I, Excretus ")

Starfleet replicator technology was theoretically capable of creating artificial substitutes for natural organs for use in certain transplants, such as eyes or lungs . ( TNG : " Loud As A Whisper "; VOY : " Phage ") A genetronic replicator could extrapolate actual organs for use in medical transplants from a DNA sample, though this device was experimental. ( TNG : " Ethics ")

Some alien replication technology was able to create living organic material, such as when the D'Arsay archive created living snakes . The abductor aliens were also able to create living things, as in the case of Jean-Luc Picard 's impostor , for which the replicators were even able to recreate the dendritic connections where memory was stored. ( TNG : " Masks ", " Allegiance ")

  • 1.1 Safety Limits
  • 3.1 Replicators in the Delta Quadrant
  • 5.1 Background information
  • 5.2 External link

Replicators had limits to their functionality. If the object desired contained a certain degree of complexity in its molecular structure, it could not be replicated. ( TNG : " The Enemy "; VOY : " Imperfection ") Talaxian lungs were considered too complex to replicate, as Talaxian physiology included a complex series of neural links between the lungs and the rest of the body that replicators were unable to duplicate exactly. ( VOY : " Phage ") Certain medicatical compounds could not be replicated, nor could Cardassian plasma distribution manifolds (or rather the beta-matrix compositor used in making them), Borg cortical nodes , or bio-neural gel packs . ( TNG : " Code of Honor "; DS9 : " The Abandoned ", " Empok Nor "; VOY : " Learning Curve ", " Imperfection ")

Certain materials, such as tricyanate and polyduranide , were considered difficult to replicate. ( TNG : " The Most Toys "; VOY : " Scorpion ", " Vis à Vis ") For some reason, it took a long time to replicate nanoprobes . ( VOY : " Scorpion ", " In the Flesh ")

Some citizens of the Federation , such as Robert Picard , refused to use replicators. Picard was opposed to their use and would not allow them on his property, complaining that they were destroying people's ability to cook, among other issues. ( TNG : " Family ") Similar but less extreme mindsets were not uncommon, and both Miles O'Brien's mother as well as Joseph Sisko raised their respective children believing that replicated food was less nutritious or generally "lacking". ( TNG : " The Wounded "; DS9 : " Homefront ")

Some people claimed to be able to tell the difference between replicated and "real" food. Jean-Luc Picard admitted that their replicator did not do "justice" to caviar , so he kept some cases of it for special occasions. ( TNG : " Sins of The Father ") Worf claimed they did not do justice to Klingon Warnog . ( TNG : " Rightful Heir ") Aquiel Uhnari complained the Muskan seed punch she could replicate didn't match the sort her mother made for her. ( TNG : " Aquiel ") Eddington claimed that he could taste the fact his "curried chicken" was in reality "replicated protein molecules". ( DS9 : " Blaze of Glory ") In 2366 , Deanna Troi expressed her desire to the computer to have a "real" chocolate sundae . The computer wished for her to define "real in context", to which Troi explained, " Real. Not one of your perfectly synthesized, ingeniously enhanced imitations. I would like real chocolate ice cream , real whipped cream ... " before she was interrupted by the computer explained that " [t]his unit is programmed to provide sources of acceptable nutritional value . Your request does not fall within current guidelines. Please indicate whether you wish to override the specified program? " ( TNG : " The Price ") In 2399 , Troi and William T. Riker lived on Nepenthe , hunting and harvesting their own food, which matched well with Riker's interest in cooking. When Troi provided Soji Asha a ripe tomato from their garden, Soji was surprised by how "real" it tasted in the comparison to the replicated food she had eaten all of her life. ( TNG : " Time Squared ", " Remember Me "; PIC : " Nepenthe ") Dr. Bruce Maddox apparently preferred to replicate all the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies , then mix and bake them himself. On Dr. Agnes Jurati asking why he hadn't just replicated the cookies themselves, Maddox explained that he disliked the replicated kind and that there was an "alchemy" to it. ( PIC : " Stardust City Rag ") Zhaban was of the opinion that Madame Arnaud 's handmade terrine d'oie was " far beyond the power of any replicator " to reproduce. ( PIC : " The End is the Beginning ")

However, always having "acceptable nutritional value" apparently did not mean that always consuming replicated food necessarily meant one would have a balanced diet no matter what they ate. Kayshon once stated to Brad Boimler , after the latter accidentally insulted his weight in the Tamarian language , that it was difficult to lose weight when one could replicate any food they wanted. ( LD : " Wej Duj ")

Not all replicators carried the same patterns. Jake Sisko was unable to find a replicator on Earth that carried the pattern for I'danian spice pudding as good as that available from the replicators on DS9. Runabout replicators carried particularly sparse menus. ( DS9 : " The Search, Part I ", " In Purgatory's Shadow ") The replicators on DS9 needed to be specially programmed with Cardassian food whenever Cardassian dignitaries visited. ( DS9 : " Destiny ", " Ties of Blood and Water ") When Geordi La Forge and Worf visited DS9's replimat in 2369 , La Forge ordered pasta al fiorella , one of his favorite meals, for both of them. However, while he considered the replimat's version to taste like liquid polymer , Worf called it delicious. ( TNG : " Birthright, Part I ")

Romulan replicators left distinctive patterns in the molecular structure of items they produced. ( TNG : " The Mind's Eye ")

Replicating large numbers of items could require significant amounts of power to be diverted from the warp core . ( TNG : " The Child ") Complex elements such as anicium and yurium also required large amounts of energy to replicate. ( TNG : " Night Terrors ") During emergency situations, the use the replicators might be restricted to save power for vital systems or because they were unreliable; requiring rations to be replicated instead of more elaborate food ( TNG : " Yesterday's Enterprise "; VOY : " Year of Hell ", " The Killing Game ", " Demon "; DS9 : " The Siege "), rationing of replicator usage ( VOY : " The Cloud ", " Real Life ", " The Void "), or the use of traditionally-prepared food. ( DS9 : " Covenant "; VOY : " The Cloud ") It was sometimes necessary to take the replicators completely offline to conserve power. ( DS9 : " Covenant "; VOY : " Dark Frontier ", " Demon "; PRO : " Terror Firma ")

Replicators, or at least the Cardassian replicators on Deep Space 9 , needed to be shut down weekly for routine maintenance. ( DS9 : " Heart of Stone ")

Safety Limits [ ]

Replicators aboard Starfleet vessels would not produce fatal poisons . ( VOY : " Death Wish ") Furthermore, replicators had biofilters which automatically screened out all contaminants. ( DS9 : " Babel ") Although clothing could be replicated for general wear, they would not allow non-Starfleet crewmembers to replicate official Starfleet uniforms . ( VOY : " Caretaker ") They produced synthehol versions of alcoholic drinks by default, but they could easily be manually readjusted through their control panel to make real alcohol instead. ( TNG : " Up The Long Ladder ")

On Starfleet installations and starships, if a person in custody was confined to quarters, it was standard policy to disable the replicators that the person had access to in order to ensure that a weapon could not be replicated. ( DS9 : " Inquisition "; VOY : " Counterpoint ")

Starfleet replicators made use of the alloy nitrium in their construction. ( TNG : " Cost Of Living ") Components of a replicator included the replicator waveguide , power converter , power supply grid , memory, pattern buffers and the matter-energy conversion matrix . ( TNG : " Cost Of Living "; DS9 : " Defiant ", " Heart of Stone ", " Visionary ", " Our Man Bashir ", " Nor the Battle to the Strong ") A disruptor pistol had some components in common with a replicator. ( DS9 : " The Way of the Warrior ") Voyager's replicator panels made use of bio-neural gel packs , were enhanced using several alien technologies they had acquired, and had their own secondary power supplies. ( VOY : " Macrocosm ", " The Void ", " Fair Haven ", " Warhead ")

History and notable uses [ ]

Automated repair station's molecular synthesizer

An advanced 22nd century matter-energy converter

One of the first replicators seen by Humans was the one seen by the crew of Enterprise when they had their ship repaired in a mysterious automated repair station . Prior to this, T'Pol once saw a similar device on a Tarkalean vessel that was capable of replicating almost any inanimate object. Until this time, the most comparable technology aboard 22nd century starships were protein resequencers , which had limited capabilities compared to later technologies. ( ENT : " Dead Stop ", " Fight or Flight ", " Oasis ")

In the 23rd century , the United Federation of Planets had not yet perfected replicator technology for ships, though replicators already existed in industrial sites. Replicator technology was, however, in use by The Traveler's species , and the Beta 5 computer utilized replicator technology to manufacture several false identity cards for use by Gary Seven . ( TOS : " Assignment: Earth ") Starships of this time period were equipped with food synthesizers and other devices for producing clothing and machine parts on demand. This was a step forward, but did not achieve the quality and sophistication of the 24th century replicator. Replicator technology was not yet employed on starships as late as 2293 . ( TOS : " The Naked Time ", " The Trouble with Tribbles "; VOY : " Flashback "; DIS : " Context Is for Kings ", " The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry ", " Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 ")

Paris using the food service

Paris using the food service in the mess hall

Portable matter replicator

A portable matter replicator

24th century Federation starships were commonly equipped with replicators because they allowed for a wide variety of foods and beverages to be served to crew members and also allowed for replication of other objects. The selection was limited only by the software and the number of options that had been programmed. ( TNG : " The Neutral Zone ", " The Defector ", " Sins of The Father ", " All Good Things... "; DS9 : " Trials and Tribble-ations "; VOY : " Caretaker ", " Phage ", " Twisted ")

Type 6A shuttlecraft were equipped with a replicator, but did not solely rely on it for emergencies and so also carried a supply of emergency rations . ( LD : " Where Pleasant Fountains Lie ")

Captain Picard beamed down to Rana IV with a portable matter replicator for Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge in 2366 . ( TNG : " The Survivors ")

When Beverly Crusher determined that a captured Romulan needed ribosomes to survive, she noted that the replicator could not be used due to the complexity of the molecular structure. ( TNG : " The Enemy ")

Quark's replicator

The replicators in Quark's Bar on Deep Space 9

As of 2367 , Galaxy -class starships were equipped with a replicating center that contained several replicator terminals resembling miniature transporter pads , at which crew members could order items. Lieutenant Worf and Lieutenant Commander Data shopped the USS Enterprise -D 's replicating center for a wedding present for Miles and Keiko O'Brien . ( TNG : " Data's Day ")

The Enterprise -D's replicators were used to provide blankets to a Bajoran refugee camp . ( TNG : " Ensign Ro ")

The replicator played a key role in spreading the Ktarian game around the Enterprise -D in 2368 . ( TNG : " The Game ")

On the Promenade of the Federation space station Deep Space 9 , the Replimat provided a casual location for inhabitants to enjoy a meal or beverage courtesy of a bank of replicators located along one of its walls. ( DS9 : " Emissary ")

Dax performing repairs

Dax repairing Quark's drink replicator

In 2374 , the drink replicator at Quark's experienced a malfunction. To fix it, Quark submitted an emergency maintenance request in the morning , and was assured by Chief Miles O'Brien that Rom would be fixing it right away, however, Rom, in turn, promised Quark that Nog would fix it before the end of the day, however Nog never arrived, but in his place, Jadzia Dax showed up. Quark felt that that task was below her, and fixing a replicator was " work for a mechanic , a repairman , a lowly engineer . " Quark later confessed to Odo that, " those hands weren't meant to be poking around inside a filthy drink replicator, " as they observed her pulling a green goo from the replicator's insides. ( DS9 : " Valiant ")

Replicators in the Delta Quadrant [ ]

Coffee replicates then mug

A replicator malfunctions and creates a mug – after the coffee

After the USS Voyager was pulled to the Delta Quadrant in 2371 , an energy crisis occurred several weeks into the journey back to the Alpha Quadrant, and Janeway ordered replicator usage to be rationed in order to conserve power for other key systems. These replicator rations became a type of currency among its crew. ( VOY : " The Cloud ")

The Ocampa were provided with food dispensers by the Caretaker in their underground city on Ocampa . ( VOY : " Caretaker ")

Replicator technology was unknown to the indigenous people of the region around Ocampa . The Kazon , in particular, repeatedly tried to obtain this technology, as did other races. Captain Janeway feared that if this technology was acquired by a civilization before it was ready, disastrous consequences could ensue. For this reason, and because of the Prime Directive , Janeway refused to give up this technology at any price. ( VOY : " State of Flux ") By 2377 , however, the crew of Voyager had shared replicators to help people feed and clothe themselves a number of times. ( VOY : " Flesh and Blood ") In contrast, the Ferengi Arridor and Kol used a portable replicator to pass themselves off as the Holy Sages of the Takarians. ( VOY : " False Profits ")

In an alternate 2374 , the replicator system on Voyager was heavily damaged by attacks from Krenim warships , forcing the crew to go to emergency rations . ( VOY : " Year of Hell ") s In 2377, Voyager acquired technology from a race within the Void that had joined The Alliance which tripled the ship's replicator efficiency. ( VOY : " The Void ")

In 2378 , the young Q manipulated a replicator to tell Janeway " Make it yourself " when she asked it for coffee . ( VOY : " Q2 ") Janeway herself had a tense relationship with her personal replicator. After it burned a pot roast , not the first time it had done so, she told Commander Chakotay that she had once referred to it as a "glorified toaster " and it had never forgiven her. ( VOY : " Shattered ")

See also [ ]

  • Fabrication device
  • Fundamental field replicator
  • Class 4 industrial replicator
  • Matter-energy conversion matrix
  • Matter synthesizer
  • Micro-replication system
  • Oxygen replication system
  • Protein resequencer
  • Self-replication
  • Vehicle replicator

Appendices [ ]

Background information [ ].

The idea of replicators was unpopular with the writers of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine . Ira Steven Behr commented: " I'd like to lose the replicators. They're my least favorite thing in Star Trek . A society that uses replicators is a doomed, finished society. " ( Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion  (p. ? )) Ronald D. Moore added that " Replicators are the worst thing ever. Destroys storytelling all the time. They mean there's no value to anything. Nothing has value in the universe if you can just replicate everything, so all that goes away. Nothing is unique; if you break something, you can just make another one. If something breaks on the ship, it's "Oh, no big deal, Geordi can just go down to engineering and make another doozywhatsit." Or they go to a planet and that planet needed something: "Oh, hey, let's make them what they need!" We just hated it and tried to forget about it as much as possible. " [1]

Per an odd after-credits scene in the Star Trek: Short Treks episode " The Trouble with Edward ", 23rd century food synthesizers apparently incorporated replicator safety protocols , although it remains unconfirmed that replicators incorporated these as well.

Replicators are considered as Star Trek predicting technology, like 3D printing , in part.

The idea that replicators used fecal material was initially mentioned in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual , where it stated that replicators on the Enterprise -D extensively sterilized and deconstructed fecal material prior to recombining its component atoms into foodstuffs. The manual also stated that replicators used molecular level resolution instead of the quantum level resolution used in personnel transporters, resulting in replicated food often having single bit errors. The manual explained these errors could account for differences in taste between replicated foodstuffs and "real" food and the tendency of some foods to become toxic if replicated.

External link [ ]

  • Replicator at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • 1 Sito Jaxa
  • 2 USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-G)
  • 3 Nick Locarno

Star Trek: How Do Replicators Work?

What makes this interesting sci-fi tech so revolutionary, and what are its limitations?

The Star Trek universe is arguably one of the most interesting sci-fi creations of our time. It cleverly combines human social commentary with a broadening spectrum of possibilities for the future. Star Trek contains many possible answers to everyday problems that exist in modern society, but also paves the way for technology that is theoretically feasible to be created in the future. These technologies are based on principles already being discussed and trialed within the world today. One example is the transporter, which allows matter to be deconstructed and then reconstructed in a different place, essentially allowing teleportation. Another is the Warp Drive, allowing ships like every iteration of USS the Enterprise to bend time and space. This allows them to to travel from one end of the galaxy to another, faster than the speed of light.

But one of the most incredible pieces of technology in the Star Trek Universe are replicators. These gadgets can recreate matter of all kinds, from substances like wood and metals, to material objects, to food fit for human consumption. Although this may seem at first like it would create an absolute utopia where no one ever has to go without, there are several things that get in the way of solving world hunger, one replicator at a time . These include societal constraints of access to the replicators as a monetary commodity which are unaffordable. There are also limits to the functions of replicators themselves, which have their own list of rules that their technology must adhere to. Knowing this, how does this miracle technology work?

RELATED: Star Trek: Who Was Lwaxana Troi?

When replicators were introduced as a staple use for the Federation in The Next Generation , they were explained as being able to reconstitute inanimate matter, by essentially cloning the original material that is placed into the scanner. The computer would ingest all the individual components or cells of the object, and then produce an exact copy of them cell by cell. It then reproduces those to create an artificial version of the original item.

Unfortunately, as this is a complicated process, the output of the replicator is never as good as the original version. Often, the food doesn’t taste the same, or the clothing doesn’t retain the same color or feeling as the original. It is important to remember that the replicators may be recreating an original that was scanned several decades ago. As such, it may have produced a diluted version of that original object. This is just one reason why the Federation are against using replicators to recreate organic or living material. For example, they would not allow replicators to recreate organs, or entire human bodies, despite it being theoretically possible.

Replicators do not work like Star Trek’s transporter technology . Transporters essentially take all the components of the original things and simply reconstruct it elsewhere. It's like building a structure out of Lego bricks in the living room, taking it apart to its individual pieces, and then rebuilding it in the garden. On the other hand, replicators do not retain the original material. Rather, they recreate a separate version of it, a version that is often considered lesser in some ways. In using replicators to try to recreate life or living matter, the Federation would be going against the fundamental moral and ethical guidelines of their organization. So although it is demonstrated to be possible by other races in the series, it is strictly prohibited by the Federation.

Beyond the ethical limitations placed on replicators by the Federation, there are technological limitations to how they work as well. The replicators work primarily by converting energy into matter. While the specifics of this are not officially canon, the general consensus is that they use the energy they are fed to rearrange an array of easily accessible atoms into whatever they are asked to create. Things like food and clothing are fairly simple (at least for a futuristic sci-fi supercomputer), because they are made of accessible molecules that are simple to create molecules. A t-shirt, for example, is most likely made from 100% cotton. Cotton is composed of pure cellulose, a polymer that is made up of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms. These are all easily accessible and creatable for the computer.

The more complex the creation, the more power the replicator needs. This concept is explored in the Voyager series, where power is limited and each member of the crew has replicator rations to help save energy. Tom Paris, argumentative ship pilot, uses a replicator to create a gold locket. This is suggested to have taken up a lot of his rations, as it was much harder for the machine to create. On other ships not restricted by power, this is still an issue. No ship in the Star Trek universe possesses enough power to create things like lithium, antimatter, or dilithium (a rare substance not found on Earth) . These are far more complicated, relying on multiple fusions of atoms and complex molecule strains. It’s why the notion of industrial replicators are so pivotal to the infrastructure of the Federation. These devices are created specifically and given ridiculous amounts of power; thus they are able to cope with far more complex replications.

MORE: Star Trek: Why The Enterprise-D Was Badly Designed

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Science News Explores

Could star trek replicators exist, experts break down what’s possible and what’s not for this sci-fi invention.

replicator technology star trek

It’s not quite a replicator, but maybe future space travelers will be able to 3-D print dinner on demand.


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By Deborah Balthazar

September 5, 2023 at 6:30 am

Let’s say you’re hungry. Wouldn’t it be great to walk up to an appliance, tell it what food you want and have that food appear magically in front of your eyes? In the TV franchise Star Trek , this is possible with a piece of technology known as a “replicator.” Getting to a future where this tech exists, though, might take a bit of imagination and invention.

The Star Trek replicator is used to make all kinds of objects, from a hot cup of Earl Grey tea to spare parts for spaceships. Biowaste and other recycled material is broken down into basic parts: water, carbon and other molecules , explains Erin Macdonald. She’s an astrophysicist and science advisor for the Star Trek franchise. Those molecules are then fed into the replicator. When a person asks for an item, lasers reassemble the bits according to a recipe in the computer until it looks like that cup of tea, a dish of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream or a piece of a warp coil.

What, exactly, is the biowaste that goes into the machine? It will probably include poop, says Macdonald. “We don’t want to think about that too much.”

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The replicator’s superfast lasers convert incoming matter into energy. Then, they change it back into matter . “On a fundamental level, there is nothing that prevents you from building a replicator-like machine,” says Gianluca Sarri. He’s a quantum physicist who works with lasers at Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom.

But a replicator is just not a top priority at the moment, he says. All that conversion of matter to energy back to matter again would require a lot of energy. Plus, there’s no way to currently make an object appear within seconds. What’s more: Right now food can be generated in a much simpler way — by cooking.

Let’s print a meal

For now, astronauts eat food sent up from Earth. To make sure they get the food they need, future space tourists and crews might rely on hydroponics — growing plants without soil. Cooking that food in space like you do at home might be an option. But it might not always be practical inside the tight fit of a spaceship. So spacefarers might instead print that meal with a 3-D printer.

Today’s 3-D printers are similar to regular printers, notes Jonathan Blutinger. Just as normal printers must be fed cartridges of ink, 3-D printers must be fed cartridges of printing material. Blutinger is a design engineer.

While at the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University in New York City, he helped create a 3-D printer that acts like a digital chef. “The printer will not allow you to make something from nothing,” he says. “You need to start with the right base ingredients.”

Blutinger’s group recently started with ingredients for a “cake.” They put graham-cracker paste, strawberry jam, peanut butter, Nutella, cherry drizzle, banana puree and frosting into the food printer. The printer assembled and cooked the ingredients with lasers to make a slice of cake.

The cake tasted great, Blutinger says, but it was definitely a unique experience because the flavors came in “waves.” The group’s paper about the cake appeared March 21 in npj Science of Food .

a row of seven transparent upside down nozzles are full of different ingredients, such as Nutella (brown) and frosting (pink)

Appetizing or off-putting?

The 3-D printing robot chef can only assemble the ingredients it’s given and then add heat to cook the food. It cannot create foods from pure energy made from biowaste, like the fictional Star Wars replicator does. But people may not yet be comfortable eating even this relatively simple version of machine-made meals, Blutinger says.

Most people are comfortable with items like flour and peanut butter because we know where they come from. As science moves food away from the source, though, people could get grossed out. That 3-D printed cake might be easier for some to eat than 3-D printed meat, for instance. And people who did not grow up with 3-D printers in the kitchen might prefer food from the grocery store, Blutinger says.

“But pretty soon…kids will be growing up with these kinds of food robots in their kitchen,” he predicts. “Then that’s all they’re going to know.”

Macdonald agrees. “It’s just one of those things that people will have to come to terms with.”

a cake-shaped wedge of 3-D printed brown batter is being topped with pink frosting by a 3-D printing nozzle

Food printers might be on our kitchen counters within the next 10 to 20 years, Sarri says. These printers could be like “having a personal chef and nutritionist all in one,” Blutinger adds. The machine could someday recommend and create healthier food that’s customized to your diet.

A Star Trek replicator might be possible, but not nearly as soon, says Sarri — maybe 100 years down the line. Those replicators of the future could be useful in areas in beyond outer space. They could provide food in places where putting a chef might be dangerous, such as a war zone.

“There’s a feedback loop,” Macdonald says, “of scientists being inspired by Star Trek and then making that science. And then that continues to feed into the science fiction of, ‘Well this is what we can do now, so what’s next?’”

The next tech to materialize might just be a replicator.

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Real-life Star Trek 'replicator' prepares meal in 30 seconds

It's a revolution in food technology that could deliver your food fantasy to your plate in less than a minute.

The Genie, similar in size and appearance to a coffee maker, can produce an unlimited variety of meals using pods, that contain natural dehydrated ingredients. So whether salty or sweet, an appetizer or a dessert, the device can create the food you crave in 30 seconds.

Developed by Israeli entrepreneurs Ayelet Carasso and Doron Marco from White Innovation company, the device uses a mobile app to operate.

"The dish can be anything, it can be a meal like chicken with rice, like couscous with vegetable or an amazing Ramen or even a chocolate soufflé or any other desert that you want," Carasso explains.

"We're using only natural ingredients, we're not using any preservatives or anything that people add to their meals," she added.

Meals are prepared in 140 gram portions in recyclable container.

At the push of a button on Genie's mobile application, the device begins mixing, shaking and adding any required liquids from tubes attached to the back of the compact machine which bakes or cooks the desired dish at the appropriate temperature.

The all-natural ingredients in the pods are freeze-dried and have a shelf-life of between one and two years.

Carasso and Marco conceived of the patent-registered device and pods, when they struggled to find restaurants that delivered to their office during a late night working session.

They describe the idea as a real life version of Star Trek's 'replicator', a device used to synthesize meals on demand, on board the mythical starship.

While the team don't expect the Genie to replace dining out, they say it will challenge chefs to produce a good meal in a pod, or small container.

Israeli chefs have already begun producing new recipes for Genie's pods and hope to develop product lines for well known culinary personalities as well as pods for specific dietary requirements, including sugar and gluten free.

The team say they are already working on expanding the capabilities of the mobile application and expect that in the future, Genie will cater to individual users.

"Eventually, Genie will know your microbiome and will prepare the pod for you, just for you and you will eat better, even tastier and healthier," said 47-year-old Marco.

White Innovation, a privately owned company, hopes to first move into convenience stores and cafes and later sell the appliance to individual consumers.

Marco said Genie is only the first step in the evolution of food technology and he believes the getting a meal in a pill will be available in the not too distant future.

While Genie's target population is primarily in western countries, Marco and Carasso say they designed the device with the hopes that it could day help those in countries that don't have enough food too. 

"In our world, we are getting fat and we are throwing away a lot of food, in their world, they don't have any food. So if you use Genie, you can distribute the food better, you can have the shelf life much longer without the preservatives, give the people better food for them," said Marco.

"We can even the food distribution in the world. That's a very, very important goal for us," he added.

Marco said they are also holding talks with the Israeli military where Genie's pods could produce fresh, nutritious meals on demand for ground forces or aboard ships at sea.

At a tasting at Louise cafe in Ramat Hashron, in central Israel, the kitchen staff were pleasantly surprised by Genie's chocolate soufflé.

"It's really nice, it's chocolatey, it's smooth, it's creamy, it's nice ... surprising actually coming from there," said Tal, Louise cafe's chef.

Yossi Orbach, co-owner of Louise cafe, who recently became Genie's sole distributor in Israel, said Genie can offer restaurant and cafe owners a way to increase the narrow profit  margins they make due to the fact that 30 percent of ingredients used in their kitchens go to waste. The meals can be prepared on demand and the size of the portions greatly limit waste.    

"In a way there is a full menu," Orbach said.  "It gives me an option to do, actually, whatever I want without any preparing," he added.

The Genie is expected to cost several hundred U.S. dollars.  The team say the pods will be priced so they are comparable to a meal, snack or dessert.

With a string of local distributors and sales underway in Europe, Greece and the United States, Marco and Carasso say mass production will begin sooner than they expected.

It appears that Star Trek's replicator may not have been such a far-fetched idea after all.

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In Star Trek, You Eat Your Own Poop: Or, Replicators Explained

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

It took a long time for the writers of "Star Trek" to codify the technology on screen, so food replicators have been known by many names over the years. Sometimes it was called a molecular synthesizer, or a food synthesizer. Sometimes it would merely be referred to as a "food slot," which sounds less like a marvel of technology and more like an old-timey coin-operated automat . By the days of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," however, the name "replicator" finally stuck, and viewers could rest assured that a starship populated by over a thousand people has efficient means of feeding its denizens. 

On-screen, replicators are perhaps one of the more magical technologies in "Star Trek." Replicators are small alcoves on the wall, equipped with a giant computer, usually located inside crew quarters. A crew member can walk up to the alcove, speak the name of a food or a beverage, and said object will instantaneously materialize. Provided the food or drink in question is programmed into the ship's database, anyone can have whatever meal they want at any time. Hunger is a thing of the past. All the replicator needs is information about cells and proteins, and the raw energy to make something. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) regularly ordered cups of Earl Grey tea during his shifts. 

It turns out, though, that Picard might technically be drinking his own bodily waste. The dark secret of replicators is that they convert energy into matter, very much the same way the Enterprise's transporters do. That means, of course, that spare matter needs to be transformed into energy first. And where do you think that matter comes from? Longtime "Star Trek" technical advisor Michael Okuda confirmed that at least some of the replicators' energy store comes from matter salvaged from the ship's toilets. 

The ship's galley

Of course, replicators weren't standard equipment on "Star Trek" until the days of "Next Generation." Prior to that, Federation starships seemed to have a few replicators that provided a few meals here and there, but most foods were still prepared in a galley, largely kept off-screen until "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." In that film, several senior officers had a conversation in the Enterprise's galley, and one of them even vaporized a steel cooking pot with a phaser. Comedically, the gluey porridge-like substance inside the pot was not vaporized and even kept its shape. 

In the original series, however, it was always a little canonically hazy as to how widespread the replicator technology was. Generally accepted among Trekkies — but not necessarily canonical — is that chefs on the Enterprise could replicate small dishes or specific ingredients, but tended to use ingredients stored in an outsize pantry. If the Enterprise seems large, consider how much of its volume may be stocked with provisions. Doubtless, every space-saving measure is in play, but still, that's a lot of food. The original Enterprise's complement was over 400.

Replicators weren't yet invented in the days of "Star Trek: Enterprise," as that show saw humans encountering the technology for the first time. There was also a lot of talk on "Enterprise" about a character called Cookie, the show's unseen galley chef. Cookie would eventually be play-acted by Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) on the holodeck, and the character became strangely important in the show's final episode. Given the limitations of technology, one can imagine that the food on "Enterprise" wasn't very good. Luckily, Cookie only had to cook for 83 people.

But, yeah, you eat your poop

In the pages of the invaluable "Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual," co-author Okuda noted how the Enterprise's replicators are tied directly into the ship's sewage system. Toilets aren't really seen much on "Star Trek," but Trekkies who have ogled blueprints all know where they are located. Okuda wrote that the crew's organic waste is "pumped to treatment and recycling units located in the environmental support complexes on Decks 6, 13, and 24." Via the ship's filtration process, "resulting water is superheated to 150°C for biological sterilization." Once sterilized, the urine is "returned to one of several freshwater storage tanks for reuse." Yes, there is a store of fresh water on the Enterprise-D. Yes, it's made from pee.

As for the solid waste — or, in Okuda's words, "various waste sludges" — it is "electrolytically reprocessed into an organic particulate suspension that serves as the raw material for the food synthesizer systems." Then all of the "remaining byproducts are conveyed to the solid waste processing system for matter replication recycling." Matter replication recycling. They recycle poop into food. 

Yes, it's mere energy by the time it makes its way to the replicator's energy systems, and naturally, the bacteria have all been removed, but the people on "Star Trek" are such efficient recyclers that they do indeed eat their own poop. Also, all their other trash. All waste matter — old clothes, dated tech, or mere trinkets you don't want anymore — can be placed on a replicator and de-materialized back into energy at a moment's notice. It's then reused to make new foods and objects. However, the dematerialization process wouldn't be demonstrated on-screen until an episode of "Star Trek: Voyager." 

The limits of replicators

Of course, "Star Trek" technology requires limitations, otherwise a lot of dramatic tension would be broken. It's been implied many times over various Trek series that replicators require a lot of energy to operate. Hence, a prankster can't program a replicator to keep making food until the ship's hallways fill with SpaghettiOs and the hull begins to buckle. This notion was reinforced by the events of "Star Trek: Voyager," which saw its title ship stranded 70 years from home. To save energy, replicator access was rationed, a hydroponics bay was erected, and a galley was built. The ship needed a sustainable food source, and replicators weren't it. This became an issue when Captain Janeway's beloved coffee beans were nowhere to be found. 

It's also repeated throughout Trek that replicated food ... isn't that good. Several characters note that they can taste when food is synthesized, leading to many amateur chefs trying their hand at cooking in their quarters. It seems some galley equipment is always on hand, just in case. Replicators, though, seem to leave little room for culinary alteration of its programs.

As previously noted in the pages of /Film, alcohol cannot be produced by a replicator. Ancillary technical manuals also explain that poisons can't be replicated. Although whether or not benign ingredients for one species may be poisonous to another hasn't yet been addressed in canon. Perhaps the replicators make foods that are acceptable to every digestive system on the ship. 

Replicators are also only capable of replicating smaller objects. No one on "Star Trek" has ever been seen replicating anything larger than a coffee table book. One cannot replicate, for instance, an entire starship.

Of course, if you can replicate a starship, you'd likely be so powerful that you wouldn't need to.

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Star Trek replicator finally replicated by real-life scientists

Star Trek Spock and Kirk via official website 2019

Credit: CBS Studios Inc.

Star Trek has been prescient about future technology ever since showing off a nascent cell phone in the pilot episode of the original series. But that doesn’t make the creation of this real-life replicator any less astonishing.

Throughout the incarnations of Star Trek , the replicator has produced a variety of human necessities to the good Starfleet folks exploring the outer reaches of space, primarily food and drink, but also spare parts, uniforms, and even breathable air. But as far as we know, they never instantaneously produced a miniature replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker.”

Intrepid researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley have done just that, and created a wholly different approach to 3D printing. Amazingly, it looks very much like Star Trek’ s replicator, but instead of fictionally dismantling objects into sub-atomic particles or actually slowly 3D printing something layer by layer, the new approach projects light into resin, which produces small objects in a matter of minutes.

The new technology is based on the principles of computed tomography (CT), frequently used in medical and industrial 3D imaging, but never before used in the process of fabrication. But where traditional 3D imaging takes multiple X-rays to produce a 3D map, this tech reverse engineers the 3D object into 2D components, which are then projected as slides of light into the gooey resin. 

"We saw that the underlying theoretical framework of CT could be adapted in a powerful way to generate arbitrary 3D geometries by building up a light dosage distribution within a volume of light-sensitive material from many different illumination angles," electrical engineer and UC Berkeley assistant professor Hayden Taylor told SYFY WIRE via email. "Once we had made the initial demonstration of the technology, the analogy with 'The Replicator' suggested itself to a couple of the students working on the project, and it stuck!"

“Our new process is called Computed Axial Lithography (CAL), and prints entire 3D objects into light-sensitive materials all at once,” Taylor told Digital Trends . “The process involves rotating a container of light-sensitive material, while projecting into it a sequence of computed light intensity patterns that are synchronized with the rotation. Over time, a 3D pattern of light energy is delivered to the material by more than a thousand different projections. Where the energy delivered exceeds a critical threshold, the material undergoes a chemical reaction and the part is formed.”

Check out the Nature Video  above to get a better understanding of the process, or read the paper, "Volumetric additive manufacturing via tomographic reconstruction," published via Science . 

This is impressive tech, no doubt, and will likely lead to a wide range of printable opportunities, including much larger objects.

"We expect (but have not yet shown experimentally) that it should be possible to print objects up to 0.5 meter diameter with features down to 0.1 to 0.2 mm at a rate of several liters per minute using a high-end 4K projector," Taylor told SYFY WIRE. "Of course there will no doubt be plenty of engineering challenges to be addressed on the way, but we have not yet identified an insurmountable limitation to scaling of the process."

So who knows, maybe they’ll be able to replicate that transporter we’ve all been hoping for.

  • 3D Printing

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  13. In Star Trek, You Eat Your Own Poop: Or, Replicators Explained

    Sometimes it was called a molecular synthesizer, or a food synthesizer. Sometimes it would merely be referred to as a "food slot," which sounds

  14. Star Trek replicator finally replicated by real-life scientists

    Amazingly, it looks very much like Star Trek's replicator, but instead of fictionally dismantling objects into sub-atomic particles or actually