A place of building, the act of creation forging ect. A place where raw materials enter and exit as a finished product (or in a more modern sense a component for another "finished" product).
Ambulatory, the ability to move, requiring coordination, actors (such as muscles), power, and sometimes a direction.
Combining the two
creates a object that could do neither function very well, but does both just well enough to justify the cost. In fiction, at least; real-life seems a little slow on the uptake. Most often seen as military machines, they are also quite handy in colonization efforts, or really anything that needs stuff
and is willing to put-up with a wandering stuff maker
Watch out, though; if Von Neumann is to believed, this would be a handy way to travel the stars without FTL, and in fiction this probably means very large concentrations of Grey Goo
This one particular vehicle is usually seen as a Military Mashup Machine
or Mook Maker
Starship. However other varieties exist.
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Anime and Manga
- World Devastators from the Dark Empire series. They land on a planet and start ripping up the environment with tractor beams, processing the raw material into automated fighters and other collection craft, both destroying and building at the same time.
- In Dune, harvester factories sucked up spice-laden sands, separated out the spice with a centrifuge and store it. It's also depicted in the film adaptation. There is a practical reason to justify this complexity though: spice is only found where the infamous Arrakis Sandworms travel, and any worm which senses motion in its territory will move to attack it. Hence, the harvesters need to be mobile so they can be lifted off to safety with their very valuable haul at the first indication of Wormsign.
- Steward Cowley's Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 A.D.. The PC1 191 Gourmet was a giant insect-like spaceship that melted asteroid ore and separated out the metal residue for storage. The AC3 Stag Beetle used a "disassembler" field to do the same thing.
- In the Culture novels the largest spacecraft, called General Systems Vehicles, are capable of building entire fleets of starships inside themselves if they're so inclined. In fact it's said that a single GSV would be able to rebuild the entire Culture by itself if necessary.
Live Action Television
- Battlestar Galactica: the Tylium refining ship
- A number of ships in this series qualify, either as a facet of being a Military Mashup Machine (Galactica has it's own on-board munitions factory, while Pegasus goes one better and has the capacity to build entire Vipers), or in a more direct fashion (the mining ships presumably refining what they extract, the cylon resurrection ships and the Resurrection Hub presumably replenishing their stocks of the various models as required, etc.)
- The Sand Miner from the Doctor Who serial "The Robots of Death".
- Red Dwarf is a mining ship, although it's not usually seen doing any actual mining.
- The ramscoop at the front collects all the hydrogen it needs for fuel, and considering the disaster there's no real reason for them to care if they have a full load of ore or not.
- The Andromeda Ascendant is capable of harvesting raw resources from asteroids and rebuilding her supply of drones and missiles.
- Russia is developing Nuclear Power Station Barges for heat, power, and/or desalination. Assuming that electricity and fresh water count for factory production.
- Factory ships take fish from whole fleets of fishing boats and prepare it for sale.
- The U.S. Army is deploying mobile 3D printing labs to Afghanistan for fabricating equipment.
- In Palladium Games' Robotech II: The Sentinels RPG, the SDF-3 is noted to have a complete mecha factory located deep in it's bowels.
- One race in Twilight Imperium is able to move their shipyards, and in fact starts with three of them in their home system.
- The Space Empires series lets you build these eventually, though your mobile shipyards will never build as quickly as your planets (and especially your Dyson Spheres) do.
- Star Ruler allows for mobile shipyards to be built. Give them a mining laser, some storage, some refineries, and a construction bay, and they will be able to mine asteroids to produce the material for its ships. It's easy to create Von Neumann ships using this - order a ship to mine an asteroid, with 10 ships in its build queue. Keep repeating the order with every ship it builds, and after an hour there will be several hundred ships.
- The Recycler in both of the Battlezone RTS + FPS games is a floating (or tracked, in the sequel) mobile factory. In the first game, it will land on a geyser, and unfold its construction bay, allowing it to build units - the more advanced Factory and Armory mobile factories are built from the Recycler. If the base is attacked, the factories can pack up, lift off, and drive away. Battlezone 2's Recycler is less mobile, as once it deploys, it cannot be undeployed (in the vanilla game - some mods allow it to undeploy).
- The classic PC RPG Albion contains a partial example; the starship you start out on is a mining-ship, designed for strip-mining an entirely planet - but it's not as mobile as it seems. By design, it's supposed to simply fly to its destination, land, and then convert itself into a self-perpetuating factory-complex capable of turning an entire, resource-rich world into a dry ball of slag, while shipping the finished and refined resources home to Earth.
- The Mobile Construction Vehicle from Dune II was imported to the Command & Conquer series. The Expansion Pack for the second game also added a Mobile War Factory to both factions. This was finally taken to a conclusion in Command & Conquer IV, where the entire base became a mobile factory.
- The expansion pack to Red Alert 2 (which, due to the Red Alert series' origin as a prequel/spin-off to the Tiberian series, also had Mobile Construction Vehicles) brought in Mobile Refineries for the new faction.
- Starcraft: most large Terran buildings are able to lift off and land elsewhere, though add-ons are immobile and detach if they do so (and can reattach). Protoss carriers are also capable to manufacturing interceptors.
- In Homeworld II, the mothership, shipyard, and carrier classes are able to manufacture smaller vessels, and battlecruisers can repair fighters. There are also mobile refineries, which extract usable elements from ore brought in by Asteroid Miners.
- Sonic 3 And Knuckles: the Flying Battery Zone
- The United Earth Federation in the Supreme Commander series is big on this trope. While most experimental units are gigantic assault machines or gun platforms the UEF invests in flying, crawling or seaborne factories instead. There are non-UEF mobile factories as well but the UEF alone has more than other factions combined.
- Dawn of War has the Necron Monolith. It's slow, but well armed, very tough, and capable of building every other Necron unit in the game.
- The Xtended Terran Conflict mod for X3 Terran Conflict has the T0 Mobile Production Ship(s). There are 5 variants of it, each of which produces a different type of ware; energy cells, food, technology (microchips, drones, etc), ore / silicon refinement, and military tech production (weapons, shields, missiles). All the of the ships are highly modular and can be configured to make different types of wares in seconds.
- The Mass Effect franchise has what is called "minifacturing", a generic term for all manner of miniaturized computer-driven manufacturing devices. They are similar in concept to a modern 3D printer, but capable of vastly more fine and complicated construction. These are relatively ubiquitous in the setting, the widespread technology making old factory construction models economically obsolete for making small, commonly used objects, leading to a distributed manufacturing economy instead. Most objects that are capable of being manufactured are sold as licenses with "Fabrication Rights Management" limitations on how many can be created from a given license purchase. Fitting with the "mobile" part of this trope, most interstellar ships will have mini-fabricators on board for producing replacement parts, or in the case of military vessels, weaponry and armor. Going even smaller and more mobile, Omni-tools are a variation on this, being Super Wrist Gadgets with built in mini-fabricators which can forge any number of small objects and shapes. This is primarily used for things like field repairing equipment, but with the right software it also makes an effective Emergency Weapon by flash-forging a one-use Blade Below the Shoulder.