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Matter Replicator

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Captain Janeway will always get her coffee.

"Make sure the replicators provide every person with a blanket and food before nightfall."
Captain Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

Matter operates under certain rules that say that things (barring certain radioactive elements) don't spontaneously transform from one thing to another. If you've ever worried about spontaneously transforming into a giant pile of cherry ice cream while sitting at your keyboard, relax: the odds of such an event happening are vanishingly slim, as are the odds of your keyboard transforming into a nest of live pythons, or the ceiling over your head turning into cheddar cheese and falling on you.

Those of us who like to sleep at night find security in those rules. Those of us who want to build things faster find them a nuisance. Turning an ore-rich mountainside into next year's model of automobile or a tree farm into enough copies of Time magazine to fill everyone's subscriptions takes a lot of time and energy; wouldn't it be better if you could just take a big pile of stuff, break it down into the very building blocks of matter and reconstruct it into all those wonderful big complex things?

Works of Speculative Fiction like to take that "if" and make it a reality. Enter the Matter Replicator, a form of Applied Phlebotinum that gleefully ignores the laws of thermodynamics as it rearranges and reassembles matter at the nuclear level to do everything from fixing a radio to fixing a nice cup of Earl Grey.

In some stories, these kinds of machines can even change living things, including people. When it gets used for this, you're likely dealing with the most Crapsack of Crapsack Worlds. If he wanted to, some psycho could turn you into a nice suit while leaving your mind and senses fully intact, just as an example of how existentially horrifying this trope becomes when you start thinking about such devices being used on people.

Note that the name "Matter Replicator" is itself somewhat misleading; it's rare to find one that can actually make something out of nothing (that one law of thermodynamics that usually can't be broken without breaking Willing Suspension of Disbelief as well). A Matter Replicator can use pre-existing matter to replicate something else, or perhaps use it to transmute something into entirely new. Creations made of Hard Light need not apply here, but Nanomachines often do. If the characters are using it to replicate humans or other sentient or living beings, see Make My Index Live!.

For the ancient or magical equivalent, see Alchemy or The Power of Creation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bokurano explores this trope quite a bit, due to the giant robots regenerating and the teleporting. Dungbeetle explains that all matter is made up of building blocks with four switches, which he can alter at will, making different things. Conservation of mass still applies, however, and Dungbeetle never creates anything out of thin air, stating that the energy difference would be too great. He uses it to teleport things instead. Also, this also presents empirical evidence for the human soul, since you cannot resurrect humans with this technology even if you have their data. You'd only get a corpse.
  • In the various Cutey Honey series, protagonist Kisaragi Honey is usually an android with a built-in replicator named the Airborne Element Solidifier, which can create nearly anything out of thin air. Panther Claw desires it because it can create unlimited amounts of gold and gemstones, while it forms the basis of Honey's ability to disguise herself as just about anyone. She frequently produce accessories like a guitar for a singer, an ax for a woodcutter, or guns for a cowboy.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Alchemists are basically walking matter replicators, limited only by that pesky Newtonian law. While most Alchemists specialize in a particular kind of transformation, it's implied that with the right knowledge and transmutation circle, an Alchemist can do practically anything... assuming you're willing to pay the price for a slim chance of success.
    • Higher-tier alchemy is capable of matter replication techniques considered impossible by the rest of the world — but it scars the alchemist for life. Ed has to live with the fact that he destroyed human souls. As a result, some of his alchemy occasionally produces small details of what looks like gold, which was supposedly impossible. Then, he sacrifices his ability to perform alchemy. This is the key to resurrecting certain types of dead. And then, there was Aremestris' attempt at creating a feral clone army from nonliving base materials. They... aren't very effective (except when they're ripping unarmored non-combatants apart).
    • The Philosopher Stone is the ultimate alchemy tool, as it can do everything above perfectly with an initially full energy storage capable of powering an entire country for centuries. The only problem is making the damn thing. In the original manga, creating a weak stone requires a few human souls, which are still conscious and used as the power source. In the anime, creating a stone just requires the deaths of humans — an entire country per weak stone.
  • Shadow Star has mons with the ability to replicate anything they see. Whether this is unlimited is questioned, but it is never explored in-depth.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: One Gyro Gearloose comic has him invent a replicator. To make sure that it can't be used for counterfeiting, he explains the machine always stamps his initials onto the copied product. The Beagle Boys steal it anyway.
  • In Supergirl (1984), both the Omegahedron and the Matterwand can create objects and even living beings out of air.
  • Thorgal: Jolan is able to pull atoms apart with his mind thanks to his Atlantean heritage. The aged Atlantean who taught him to use his power could recombine them into different objects altogether, though Jolan hasn't reached that level of mastery yet.
  • Transmetropolitan has these in the form of makers, which all seem to come with an A.I. and require large blocks of non-radioactive material as a base. Spider's mafia-made one spends most of its time producing drugs... for itself.
  • In the comic-book adaptation Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the Grumpy Converter of Bluxte is a tiny creature that makes thousands of copies of whatever it ingests, apparently evolved naturally as a way to recycle the supply of fruit and seeds it eats. Its metabolism is comparable to a nuclear reactor, and when exhausted from copying it can be plugged into any energy source to "recharge". Nobody knows how its physiology works, because any examination tools dissolve when entering its body.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin introduces his cardboard-box duplicator to Hobbes, he notes that "counterfeiting is just one of its many uses around the home!" However, he only seems to use it to clone himself.

    Fan Works 
  • Aurora Falls: As per canon, the nano-fabrication technology enables Selkirk to bootstrap his way from sleeping in an Escape Pod and hunting fish with a knife to riding around in a mini-submarine and living in a well-appointed Underwater Base.
  • Using the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual as a reference, Bait and Switch (STO) has a mention that one of the supplies the USS Bajor takes on when she docks at Deep Space 9 is "replicator mass" (because replicating stuff from pure energy would require frankly ludicrous amounts of power).
  • Subverted in Rocketship Voyager. Captain Janeway complains that a huckster tried to sell her a replicator that could "create water from thin air", but it was just an atmospheric water condenser.
  • Dubbed fabricators in World War Etheria are products of the First Ones. Like many examples mentioned here, they're treated as very sophisticated 3D printers and as such are restricted to base materials on hand such as needing to make circuit boards out of sand and appropriate metals as need be, with the added caveat that they need "pattern crystals" for the various sophisticated projects they can do. With this out of the way, they can create sophisticated prosthetics, armor, weapons, vehicles, even more versions of themselves. It's later shown that properly equipped ones can create edible organic food too, even beer; interestingly, this extends to creating organic replacements for limbs. Having access to these is a major industrial leveler for the Horde, once they find a way to reliably power them, when they're up against the magical One-Man Army that is each individual Princess.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 2144-set part of Cloud Atlas, the Neo-Korean, McDonald's-like Papa Song's is shown rapidly 3D-printing food from sophisticated spray nozzles.
  • The Cloverfield Paradox has the 3D printer version, used to create food from worms being kept for protein. Someone has taped a "Worst Bagle Machine Ever" sticker on the printer, implying the stuff tastes about as great as it looks. It serves as a Chekhov's Gun for the creation of a literal Chekhov's Gun when it's used to 3D print a firearm.
  • In Forbidden Planet, Robbie the Robot has a replicator built into his body, able to reproduce anything he's given a sample of. One of the crew quickly takes advantage of this and turns him into the world's fastest distillery.
  • The Nude Bomb: Maxwell Smart discovers that a KAOS scientist has invented an "instant cloning machine" that can replicate living people. In the climactic battle both sides use it to create an army of Control agents and KAOS villains to attack each other, before the machine is destroyed from overuse.
  • In The Prestige, Nikola Tesla's attempt to create a teleporter creates one of these instead; there is no explanation given for where the matter it uses to create its duplicates comes from, but in a rare event, the device is capable of copying an entire human being perfectly.
  • Richie Rich has Professor Keenbean's Sub-Atomic Molecular Re-Organizer, an early prototype replicator in the form of a massive, complex, loud machine which rearranges the molecules of garbage and turns it into useful everyday items, such as bedpans or bowling balls. Unfortunately, it can do the same thing to human beings, something the villains catch onto...

  • Damon Knight's A For Anything (1959) has a rather primitive-looking "Gizmo" that can duplicate anything, including itself. No source of energy is mentioned, only that the Gizmo can only do one item at a time, including living people. This destroys Earth civilization overnight, leading to a feudal slave-owner future where only human labor is valuable.
  • All Tomorrow's Parties has the Nanofax machine, which transmits copies of anything.
  • In Armageddon 2419 AD, the evil Han overlords live in megacities where all their food, clothing and materials are provided by "electrono-synthetic processes". With no need for mining and cultivation, the Invaded States of America are now covered by vast forests which hide La Résistance.
  • In "Business as Usual, During Alterations" by Ralph Williams, aliens drop a pair of matter duplicators that create an exact copy of anything placed on one of its pans, including another duplicator, in the middle of a city in order to test humanity, with a warning that they could destroy human culture. The remainder is about a department store manager dealing with the change.
  • In The City and the Stars, the entire city of Diaspar has existed for a billion years thanks to the Master Computer using this technology to both maintain the city in pristine condition, as well as to allow the inhabitants to alter their surroundings for aesthetics and comfort via mental commands. In fact, the Diasparans themselves enjoy virtual immortality by way of Body Backup Drive, being returned to life in a new body at intervals of tens or hundreds of thousands of years apart just to keep things from getting too monotonous.
  • The Diamond Age has "matter compilers" that are essentially nanotech fabricators using matter from the "Feed".
  • Used in the Eldraeverse to provide its post-material-scarcity No Poverty, although somewhat limited by thermodynamics, conservation laws, et cetera. Unusually, they incorporate macro-scale construction tech alongside the Nanomachines, for efficiency's sake.
  • L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s The Fires of Paratime has time/space-traveling humans stealing matter duplicators from aliens called Murians. The duplicators are small, about the size of a suitcase (which is the limit that a human can carry back home, and the humans are users, not scientists or engineers), but anything put inside the doughnut-hole center of the device can be copied — unless it's an electrical device and the power is left on, in which case the duplicator will explode with the force of several kilotons of TNT.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Future History timeline includes a "Universal Pantograph" which can duplicate objects. It's mentioned in Time Enough for Love.
  • A Story Arc of The History of the Galaxy deals with a newly discovered threat of self-replicating machines left over from an ancient race. It's not long before someone realizes that these machines have technology to convert matter into energy and back into matter using a preprogrammed template (the machines' original purpose was rapid terraforming and building infrastructure). However, one character explicitly tells an admiral that such a technology must never end up in the hands of humanity, as it would destroy the Confederacy's economy, and unity with it. After all, what's the point of planets maintaining ties with one another, if any planet can manufacture anything it wants using the dirt under their feet as raw material? And each planet can build a powerful armada virtually overnight with the tech. How long before some dimwitted politician starts the next galactic war over a mild offense? The speaker himself wants to use the tech to create an external (but largely benign) threat to force humankind to evolve rather than become a society of consumers, entirely dependent on their technology to survive.
  • In The House Left Empty by Robert Reed, most homes after the collapse of most of the world's governments have their own miniature "factories" that contain millions of miniature robots, which can manufacture a wide variety of goods when given a supply of matter; machinery parts and basic foodstuffs are common creations. The protagonist rides in a copy of a 2021 Ferrari roadster which was built in pieces by a larger replicator. The story also shows the scientific uses of the devices — before the collapse, railguns fired what were essentially cannonballs packed with more powerful versions of the factory nanobots at distant worlds and asteroids, which would use solar power to break up minerals and use them to build up bases for future explorers.
  • Magic 2.0: A variation is discussed in Spell or High Water. Since reality is nothing more than a computer program, which a few people have learned to modify (to an extent) by literally editing a text file on a computer, a "sorceress" named Brit has figured out that she can write a macro that builds objects molecule-by-molecule, thus allowing for monolithic objects made of pure diamond, including the entire city of Atlantis. Since levitation and teleportation is best accomplished with monolithic objects (any complex object is actually seen by the program as a collection of separate objects), this works out perfectly for "magic-users".
  • In Master of Formalities, bulkfabs are a typical example of this trope. Almost anything nonliving can be created using a bulkfab. A drink server typically carries a tray-sized bulkfab in order to make drinks on demand. In one case, several servants wonder why House Jakabitus bothers employing chefs, since they can get identical food out of a bulkfab, the same way everyone else on Apios does. A sous chef tries to explain that no bulkfab can match a professional chef, pointing out that each meal a chef makes is unique and personal, while a soulless bulkfab just spits out identical meals (assuming the same thing is ordered). The other servant counters that a faulty bulkfab would produce the same effect. During banquets, the chefs typically prepare meals only for members of House Jakabitus and any visiting lords and ladies. The cooked food is then scanned into a bulkfab, and copies are produced for the rest of the guests. Apparently, no one on the Hahn Homeworld has ever heard of a bulkfab, which is justified by the Hahn reveling in Comedic Sociopathy (i.e., it's much more fun to force someone to cook a meal rather than to use a bulkfab).
  • In The Outside, the angels use nutrient printers to make food that tastes exactly like the real thing.
  • George O. Smith's "Pandora's Millions", part of the Venus Equilateral series, is a detailed examination of the economic damage that could be caused by the invention of a matter replicator. The problem is only resolved when the protagonists invent a material that explodes violently when exposed to the replicator's scanning beam, which can be used as a medium of exchange.
  • The Paradox universe has "genies" which are ubiquitous enough to be included in college dorms, though the energy costs are high enough that it's often easier to go to a store.
  • Literal "matter duplicators" capable of copying both inanimate objects and living beings features prominently in Perry Rhodan's Andromeda arc (issues #200 - #299). Since the downfall of the immortal overlords of that galaxy (involving a rather destructive all-out war raging through it towards the end), this technology with its obvious plot-wrecking potential hasn't been seen anymore and can be safely assumed to have been quietly and conveniently lost in the aftermath.
  • Multi-material 3D printers are commonplace in The Pride of Parahumans, and nanofabricators are alluded to but not actually seen in the novel itself. In the later Para Imperium stories, nanotechnological replicators are a staple technology of the interstellar Federation, and barred to colonies under memetic quarantine.
  • In Wil Mc Carthy's The Queendom Of Sol series, fax machines can print copies of almost any object, as long as enough raw materials are on hand. These devices are a relatively rare example in that they can also print copies of people — potentially multiple copies, which factors into the setting's society and laws. Combined with a solar-system-wide computer network, the faxes are effectively a form of Telephone Teleport, medical facility, factory, and glorified refrigerator all rolled into one. They are also one of the few valuable objects in the setting's economy, as the print plate of a fax machine is one of the very few things that another fax cannot produce.
  • The Revelation Space Series has "Manufactories", which are essentially extremely adaptable factories ranging from the size of a washing machine to enormous kilometer wide constructs. The devices require matter, and some time to actually build the object, but they can build a huge number of devices. The first novel, Revelation Space, has the "Warchive" on the starship Nostalgia for Infinity, which is a manufactory specifically designed to build guns, with an archive of millions of weapons from the modern age of the 2500s back to pre-history. If given certain parameters, it will splice together different guns to get the desired elements. The Prefect shows a manufactory in a space station that can build entire spaceships.
  • The Star Carrier series uses nanotechnology to achieve this. Deep Space has a scene of a character ordering a coffee and having it basically 3D-printed by nanites. Starships are "grown" in record time by grabbing a nearby resource-rich asteroid and unleashing nanites on it. They strip-mine it and use the materials to quickly build a ship. Arcologies are "grown" the same way on Earth. It's pointed out that the reason why the Space Navy can't replace old model Space Fighters with new ones quickly isn't because they can't produce them fast enough — they can, it's just that the pilots' neural hardware and software is designed for the old models and needs to be adapted, and the pilots themselves need to be retrained. It's easier with new pilots, who simply get the latest implants and training. It doesn't help that they introduce new models, sometimes, mere months after the previous one. This is also why there are no big cargo ships prowling the space lanes. With nano-growing, it doesn't make economic sense to lug physical things light-years away. Instead, trade ships specialize in information.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Soulcasters, Magitek Lost Technology devices from the Shadowdays, can turn anything into anything else, using Stormlight stored in gemstones (the type of gemstone determines the type of transmutation). Their primary use is for Easy Logistics, turning rocks into food and waste into smoke, as well as materializing barracks literally out of thin air. Soulcasters aren't very detailed, however; food is bland and tasteless, while buildings are blocky and uniform. One trick is to carve something detailed using wood, and then Soulcast the wood to metal or stone. The Soulcasters are too rare to do that for everything, though, so blacksmiths and other artisans or miners still have their place.
  • The Sunlit Man: The primary means of manufacture on the world of Canticle is the Choruses, tanks full of imprisoned shades which can break down raw materials and then reassemble the molecules into complex parts if provided with clear blueprints.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Rimuru is a slime monster with a synergistic combination of skills that allow him to dissolve and analyze any object he eats and make exact copies from stored materials. He can also refine what he consumes into directly usable and highly potent resources.
  • In Troy Rising, "fabbers" can build just about anything you want very quickly as long as you've got the raw materials. The crushed remains of enemy ships are frequently fed in as the raw materials in question.
  • The protagonist of Use of Weapons complains when he asks a ship Mind for some rubbish to shoot at, and is instead given a block of ice. The Mind explains that it doesn't have rubbish — just "matter that's currently in use, and matter that's available to be recycled and used for something else".
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, there are replicators for organic material called "protein vats" which can grow synthetic tissue given the right materials and genetic programming, but it's implied that traditional manufacturing is easier for metals.
  • In We Are Legion (We Are Bob), molecular 3D printers are used to achieve a similar effect. Basically, if you have the correct raw materials (asteroid mining) and a ton of power (onboard fusion reactors), you can build any object molecule-by-molecule. The process isn't quick, and it only nets you parts of complex devices or structures, which must then be assembled the old-fashioned way. Food can't be replicated (not yet, at least, but Bill is working on printing organic matter). Still, this tech is essential to the success of the Von Neumann probes. The Heaven-series probes are equipped with several autofactories (an autofactory is basically a 3D printer with accompanying "roamer" robots used to deliver raw materials and assemble items from printed parts). However, in order to build something large, it usually requires the upscaling to a large autofactory. For instance, in order to build colony ships for humans (each colony ship holds 10,000 people in cold sleep), Riker and Homer first have to gather raw materials or salvage debris (which is actually better, since the materials are already refined), then start building smaller autofactories, then scaling them up to a full-sized shipyard. Finally, the shipyard can start building colony ships. How long? About ten years until the first colony ship comes off the production line, and that's an optimistic projection.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: In the episode "Moloch", the inhabitants of Sardos have this technology controlled by their Master Computer Moloch, ranging from small demonstration models that can replicate a handgun to ones big enough to copy starships. When President Servalan turns up to claim the technology from the military unit that captured it, she discovers that a lowly section leader has now replicated a battle fleet that outnumbers her own. Turns out Moloch is actually a Little Green Man in a Can created when the unit's commanding officer tried to replicate the Ultimate Life Form. It didn't end well for him.
  • Come Back Mrs. Noah: Britannia Seven has a multi-billion-pound wonder of British technology that, after excessive button-pushing, ejects the item requested (or something they didn't request) with a farting sound.
  • Farscape has an episode in which a villain uses a wrist-mounted version to "twin" people, including the protagonist John Crichton.
  • The Orville, being an homage to Star Trek, has replicators. Kelly credits their invention as the backbone of the Union's post-scarcity economy. The series has some fun with the concept by having the most frequent items requested be booze and recreational drugs (cannabis, specifically). The ship also has a separate room with larger replicators featuring flat tops that are used to replicate large or awkwardly shaped objects. Late into the series, "Future Unknown" explains that the Union is post-scarcity because it was already committed to economic equality before inventing matter replicators, not the other way around — a capitalist culture gifted such technology would see the rich and powerful developing ways to keep it to themselves so that they stay rich and powerful, even if it leads to civil war and self-destruction. The Union knows this from experience, and it's the reason for their equivalent of the Prime Directive.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): The episode "Think Like a Dinosaur" has an alien interstellar matter transmitter machine on the Moon that transports people instantaneously across interstellar distances by copying them. Thus, two identical people would exist: the original on the Moon, and the one transmitted elsewhere. The problem is that the saurian-like aliens insist that only one duplicate be allowed to exist in the universe, so each time the machine is used, the person at the "transmitting" side has to be disintegrated or killed. Sure enough, an accident happens where they cannot confirm the receiver for several hours, resulting in a dilemma for the humans being allowed to use the alien device under supervision.
  • Power Rangers in Space: The Astro Megaship has such a device, called the Synthetron. It's mostly used for producing food and beverages, although the Rangers prefer the fare at the Surf Spot.
  • The Red Dwarf episode "Demons and Angels" features a matter replicator, with a caveat: all the virtues of the replicated object go into one copy, all the evils into another.
  • Sesame Street: In a very early episode, Mr. Hooper shows off a machine that can create ten copies of anything, although it was designed to only work on very small objects, such as jellybeans. Bird Bird, not knowing what the machine is for, finds it unattended and messes around by testing it on a trash can. The machine manages to produce ten copies of the trash can, only for it to blow up in the process.
  • Stargate-verse: The Asgard & Ancients both have them, but they don't show up very often and Earth doesn't gain regular access to one until the final episode of Stargate SG-1, which also makes the logical point that Teleporter = Matter Replicator + Radio, so if you have one you have the other.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation has food replicators as a staple of shipboard life. There are also medical replicators that can produce replacement body parts and organs (including an entire replacement spine). Furthermore, Starfleet ships and stations use replication functions in their life support systems to efficiently purify the air into appropriate gas mixtures for reuse, thus forgoing the need for massive gas storage.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we're told about Industrial Replicators that are being sent to the Cardassians. By inference, these are the industrial complexes to the cottage industry of the shipboard replicators, as a small number of these is the Federation's answer to rebuilding Cardassia Prime.
    • This trope backfires in Star Trek: Voyager. In the pilot episode, Neelix blurts out that Voyager has technology that can create water from thin air, and Janeway informs the Kazon that it's integrated into their ship. The Kazon spend the next two seasons trying to get their hands on it.
    • Since Star Trek replicators use the same basic technology as transporters, there are instances of transporter accidents replicating people.
    • Fan theory says that when transporters break stuff down, each wavicle is nanoscopically tagged with its position and energy in the original (in the same way that packets on the Internet are tagged with their position in the original message.) This is why Voyager finds it more energy-efficient to beam up foodstuffs from a planet (and have them cooked by Neelix) than to replicate them: information is energy, so replicators consume energy arranging matter, whereas transported matter comes with the information to arrange itself.
    • There are certain things the replicator can't make: Dilithium, Benamite,note  living things,note  Pure Energy,note  latinum (a handwave to allow currency to exist in the same universe as replicators), and antimatter (for obvious kaboomy reasons).
    • It's mentioned in various episodes that replicated food doesn't taste as good as the real thing, meaning it is functional but doesn't quite replace traditional cooking. There is also a point made that cooking replicated ingredients into more complex items 'tastes better' than replicating the end product itself. Finding quality ingredients can be an issue, and there are also maintained physical industries for things such as alcohol, as Guinan and Picard had stockpiled their own supplies on board.
    • One Expanded Universe novel had a planet with portable, collapsible replicators, which could be used to replicate larger collapsible replicators, which came with all the power and raw material needed to run it already installed.
    • In Star Trek: Discovery, Admiral Vance casually informs Osyraa that the replicated apple she's eating is made of the crew's shit, deconstructed to the atomic level and rebuilt in a new form. Osyraa is clearly less than thrilled with this news.note 
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Valley of the Shadow", the citizens of Peaceful Valley, New Mexico can replicate any object provided that they have its atomic structure on file. Dorn demonstrates this to Philip Redfield by replicating a ham sandwich on white bread with mustard. Philip later uses it to create a .38 special.

  • X Minus One: In "Protective Mimicry", an adaptation of Algis Budrys's "Protective Mimicry", a galactic treasury agent investigates the source of some credit notes that appear to be genuine save that they all have the same serial numbers, and since the printing process is so fiendishly complicated, he believes that someone invented a matter duplicator. It turns out the counterfeiter found an alien tree that made copies of whatever "attacks" it, like a paper airplane made from a 50-credit note. And during the final fight the agent runs into said tree, making it a bit difficult to get tickets back home for all of him.

  • The Bible: Jesus "feeding the crowd with fish and bread" might actually qualify.

    Tabletop Games 
  • CthulhuTech makes mention of nanoforges, devices that are used both in the industrial and consumer sector, that utilize specific matter codes to construct new things.
  • Eclipse Phase explores this concept in detail, and the use of nanofabricators (or "cornucopia machines") forms the basis of distinction between the three major economies.
    • "Old" economies restrict unlimited nanofabricators to the elite class, and having one without the clout to keep it can be a serious crime. Limited versions which produce food or small items are the most common, and pretty much what the civilian population is allowed. More advanced models have limitations placed on them such as DRM, encrypted one-use blueprints, and company copy locks which prevent one company's blueprints from being used by another company's fabricators. And most fabricators keep logs of what they make, and many are preprogrammed to alert authorities if they detect something dangerous in the works. Most of this can be overcome by a talented hacker and some time.
    • "Transitional" economies have public fabricators that all taxpaying or service fee-paying citizens can use to produce anything that doesn't use a lot of electronics or rare elements, which have to be bought or made with a desktop nanofab using blueprints and raw materials you bought yourself.
    • "New" economies, which run on favors and formalized reputation scores, don't restrict their public nanofabs, they just give everyone a daily ration of raw materials, and blueprints are crowdsourced and open sourced to the public. This doesn't come without its own set of problems, since items requiring rare elements or huge allotments need to be paid off with favors and rep. Particularly dangerous items or components will alert the authority analogues, and the user could face some serious consequences if they can't answer some awkward questions.
  • GURPS:
    • In GURPS Ultra-Tech, they're balanced by truly massive power demands that require "cosmic" energy sources to be economical.
    • Transhuman Space has universal 3D printers, which are very expensive, in the $200,000-1,000,000 range.note 
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones, stores have largely been replaced with "Buyspots" where one can order something that the owning Mega-Corp produces and a 3D printer will make it on demand. Manufacturing centers can also be added to spaceships. There's also the Spontaneous Assembly Machine, which is the size of a baseball and contains a bunch of Nanomachines and super-compressed foams for rapidly constructing things without moving parts in the field (like cover).
  • In Lancer, "Printers" are a key component of Union's Post-Scarcity Economy. Simple objects like disposable tools, hard cover panels, and replacement blades can all be "flash-printed," while an entire mech, complete with a full complement of weapons and wargear, can be printed from scratch over the course of 10 hours. This allows a lancer to replace a destroyed mech at no in-game cost, but upgrades require licenses that act as the game's Class and Level System.
  • Mindjammer has makepoints that convert zero-point energy to matter. But they have an easier time producing simple elements or molecules so there is still a lot of traditional manufacturing, their most common use is life support (air and food) on starships.
  • Shadowrun features nanofaxes, what with it being a melting pot of cyberpunk tropes and all. Though they're very expensive.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Standard Template Constructs (STC). Extremely powerful replicators, able to create anything from kitchen utensils to buildings to gigantic, artificially intelligent robots. The STC themselves are capable of scanning any environment it is placed in and listing what schematics could be made with the resources available. These were given to human colonies tens of thousands of years before the start of the franchise's timeline, allowing humanity to easily colonize any world it settled on. STC now are considered the most valuable and important parts of Lost Technology by the Adeptus Mechanicus, as having a fully functional STC and a fully completed database of schematics would allow humanity to easily reconquer the galaxy has they had many eons ago. To put it in persepective: two IG scouts discovered an STC schematic for a slightly different combat knife. They were given a planet as thanks. Each. However, there's a massive case of Depending on the Writer around them and outright replicators (as opposed to automated factories or databases with easy-to-follow instructions) is now Early-Installment Weirdness.

    Video Games 
  • Astroneer: Available in multiple tiers. One in your backpack can print items taking up 1 inventory slot, including a Small Printer. Small Printers then can print items that take 2 connected slots and platforms to put them on, including a Medium Printer. Medium Printers cover 4-slot items, including most of the base structures. Large Printers go for Extra Large items, most of which can't even be put on platforms after being unpacked as they are the biggest vehicles and platforms in themselves.
  • Borderlands features Digistructing, a digital process that allows any constructor system with an oculus the size of a baseball to construct entire battlefield robots, cars, and guns. The process is a key gameplay mechanic; vending machines not only manufacture product on-demand but are wirelessly updated with new digistruct schematics every twenty minutes, each character has a Storage Deck enabling them to carry at least a dozen guns and hundreds of rounds for each, and the New-U Stations resurrect characters when they die (though this last one explicitly doesn't exist in-story, to explain how Plotline Death can stick). Those same stations even act as the fast-travel system.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • The Dead Money DLC utilizes this in the form of the Sierra Madre Vending Machines created by Big MT. They can turn casino chips into other things like ammo, food and medicine. These chips are made from just plain scrap metal and some form of fissionable material, if the crafting window is to be believed.
    • Word of God says that the Vaults also have matter replicators, though only to create vault suits. One of the vaults was set that the suit replicators failed six months after closing — and it was populated with Mormons.
  • Described in surprising detail in the fluff of Homeworld. Basically, it's a very high-tech 3D printer that can work with any material. Aside from justifying the Ridiculously Fast Construction seen in the games, it also justifies repair ships (small-scale precision version projecting matter to mend fractures and seal hull breaches) and even the Command & Conquer Economy (reversing the beam to take matter apart instead of projecting it, then separating and sorting chemical elements by atomic mass, resulting in 100% efficient mining with no waste).
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising has nanotechnology that acts like this as one of its themes. Creation engines were invented that could build anything from nothing, atom by atom. Attempts to regulate the technology by corrupt governments led to a planetwide socialist revolution, and 20 years later the world is a war-free post-scarcity Utopia. The eponymous Antaeus carrier caries a powerful creation engine that allows it to manufacture helicopters and tanks in the space of seconds when given a supply of scrap metal.
  • The VAL 9000 in The Journeyman Project II: Buried in Time is this. You have to use it to buy items from a future shopping service to get through the game, and the replicator creates them after they're purchased. It also has an "Auto Chef", but it can't be used in-game.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has the Star Forge, an enormous and ancient Force-based space station powered by a star, and capable of creating more or less anything in the hands of someone strong enough to master it, with Revan and Malak using it to build an unstoppable battle fleet. Unfortunately, it's an Eldritch Starship created by the Rakatans, the Abusive Precursors, who powered it with the Dark Side of the Force. It corrupted them even further, and played a part in destroying them. And it's implied to be alive. While the redeemed Revan ultimately destroyed it, he kept a fingernail sized fragment that wasn't corrupt, and gave it to a group of Ongree, his former servants, instructing them to feed it more or less anything, including dead bodies, and to dedicate themselves to it. In return, it would make them literally anything they required, growing over three centuries from a fingernail to about half the size of a grown man. In his diaries, Revan called it The Infinite Engine, and mused that using the Star Forge to create fleets and assassin droids was a criminal waste of technology that could create anything — eventually, given time and fuel, they could use it to build their own galaxies.
  • Metroid: Samus' Chozo-built suit seems to use this technology. It can turn into energy when not in use, can change back and forth from a spherical shape, and it has storage capacity for more missiles and bombs than the suit should physically be able to hold. In Metroid Fusion, upgrades for Samus' suit are sent to her as computer data and are downloaded into her suit.
  • PlanetSide has replicators in many flavors. Equipment terminals and vehicle terminals in both games manufacture armor/weapons and vehicles, respectively, right on the spot and almost instantaneously. "Lockers" in the first game are actually replicators; stuff an enemy's weapon into a locker and you'll be able to retrieve it at any locker in any friendly base even if it has no power. The Adaptive Construction Engine in PS1 is slapped into the ground or a wall and converts pure nanites into useful equipment; Spitfire turrets and its derivatives, motion sensors, boomers (C4), mines, etc. The larger Field Deployment Unit can convert itself into manned turrets, tank traps, and cloaking fields.
  • Prey (2017) has the slightly more real-world Fabricator, and its logical counterpart, the Material Recycler. Put any kind of matter into the Recycler (cigar butts, plant leaves, soda cans), and it will spit out cubes of compressed raw material. Put those cubes into the Fabricator and upload a print plan, and it will recycle the raw materials into whatever you want: guns, bullets, medkits, and more. There are also Recycler Charges, which are grenades that recycle anything in their blast radius — including, as one unlucky researcher found out, part of a person's foot.
  • The DOLLI devices in Quantum Conundrum are capable of duplicating objects in mass quantities as long as they're given enough Science Juice to run on. They can also duplicate living things, though with less-than-perfect results.
  • SpaceChem is built on a lesser form of this in which you create "reactors" to disassemble and recombine molecules to produce various substances. But each reactor has limited inputs and outputs rather than being able to replicate anything. Opus Magnum, a similar game by the same company, swaps chemistry for alchemy.
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty mentions a "nano-fabricator" in one of Stettman's research notes. Which may justify the Ridiculously Fast Construction.
  • Startopia: Combined with an Energy Economy, you can replicate raw materials, furniture and entire buildings from your energy stores. You also have a teleporter that works on inanimate objects from trash and bombs (which freezes the countdown) to scuzzer droids. The teleporter doesn't work on living things.
  • Star Trek Online features a replicator that can be used to replicate health-restoring food, commodities for missions, and even some basic weapons and shields for use on away missions. The replicator can also be used to "recycle" (sell) many types of items to get Energy Credits, which is the game's main currency. You can access your replicator anywhere you are, but this convenience is balanced in that replicated commodities are more expensive than when bought from a vendor. Also, vendors can give you more Energy Credits per item if you sell your items to them (50% of item value) instead of recycling them with your replicator (40%).
  • In Stellaris, the lategame Matter Generation technology lets you build Resource Replicators, which don't utilize a planet's mineral deposits but instead generate minerals from energy at a not-too-shabby 40:50 ratio.
  • Subnautica features a variety of devices that use replicator technology: Fabricators (tools and supplies), Habitat Builders (buildings and large devices), and Mobile Vehicle Bays (vehicles). These allow for humans to quickly settle newly discovered worlds as long as they have the raw resources to make them. Fortunately, the player's Escape Pod is equipped with a Fabricator that can build the other devices once he has the schematics. The player is also equipped with a Scanner, allowing them to scan wreckage and technology to make more schematics for their fabricators.
  • The gimmick for one sequence of Superliminal is that instead of picking up and altering an object, you make a copy of it at whatever distance away you could have perceived it to be.
  • The UNN Von Braun in System Shock 2 has "Value-Rep" replicators, which your character can use to buy items using nanites that build them upon being purchased. The replicators can also be hacked into giving you reduced prices and even different items altogether.
  • In Total Annihilation (and its Spiritual Successor, Supreme Commander), your two resources are Mass and Energy. Mass is mined by specialized facilities, and Energy is produced by, what else, power plants. Factories use energy to 3-D print mass into Mecha-Mooks and buildings. There are even machines to turn energy into mass.
  • Warframe: Your orbiter is equipped with a foundry, a 3D printer that takes raw materials and assembles them according to a blueprint. Blueprints for most consumable items can be re-used endlessly, while the DRM on weapon and armor blueprints makes them self-delete after a single printing.

  • In Homestuck, the Alchemiter can combine objects to form many different tools. It can also receive copies of codes that can create weapons, food, and various mundane objects. Most of the characters use Alchemiters to obtain the things they need in life.
  • In A Miracle of Science, Mars gives most of the major nations of the Sol system "Autofactories" that can produce nearly anything from basic raw materials. Martians themselves can use the Nanomachines in their bodies to alter physical objects and most of their buildings are made of "smart matter" that can rearrange itself at will.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has replicators like Star Trek, but with sufficient resolution to duplicate living things. The ethics and mechanics of this device are an important plot point, as the level of ingenuity is only surpassed by its potential for sheer torture.
    • The second episode had Quentyn ranting at some Holier Than Thou Star Trek expies that matter replicating yourself (teleportation) is literally suicide because it kills the user and then reconstructs a clone made of their vaporized atoms at the other end. The captain then insults him back by asking what the big deal is when matter-replication teleport and interdimensional warping have the same result, only matter-replication is faster. Cue the mutated engineer who took one teleportation trip too many.
    • One senator found a way to satisfy his murder fetish by being the perfect gentleman to a naïve little girl, and then replicating her entire body down to the neurons in her brain, the original unaware that he made a sex slave copy of her. Cue rape-stomp-slaughter. He did this to multiple girls multiple times, and at first he took them on dates only to have them leave straight into the matter replicator to be vaporized without realization.
    • An entire episode was dedicated to the pros and cons of giving free matter replicator schematics to the public. The average reaction is surprisingly good. And by surprisingly good we mean that it saved an entire civilization from total economic collapse at the hands of its control-freak oligarchy, at the cost of nuking two whole continents with replicated explosives. Quentyn still keeps his sedative cigars for the resulting PTSD. Also, it's possible to replicate a bomb capable of exploding with a radius two-hundred times larger than the food processor that replicated it. Ah, progress.
    • Another arc revolves around a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to make a clone of his dead wife from a replicator template, then download her neural template into the clone. However, the replicator template was made at such a precise resolution that the clone came out "alive", with a copy of the original's memories and personality at the time of the scan, before she'd met her widowed husband. Downloading the template would have destroyed the existing mind, which is classed as a form of murder, and the template itself helped the clone escape to prevent that happening.
  • The tongue-in-cheek comic Real Life has evil scientist Tony Flansaas making a duplication chamber out of glass and off-the-shelf electronics in just a few hours in his friend's garage. The cloning machine can make infinite copies of anything placed inside of the six-foot-by-three-feet tube, including live people such as Tony himself, and Tony once re-sets the controls to have the machine duplicate itself so he can take a copy with him. Tony also states that the cloning machine can dematerialize any matter placed inside the chamber back into energy if needed (which he does, to destroy hundreds of clones of himself).
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • The fabber is an odd case of a Matter Replicator that uses mechanical labor. Full-scale fabbers have arrays of tools capable of building things as large as starships or as fine as bodies with blank brains. Smaller units use nanotechnology instead of human sized robots seen in the very large fabber facilities.
    • In addition, Wormgates can copy exactly anything that passes through one of them using matter from stars. The Gatekeepers primarily use it to abduct clones of the richest percent of the galactic population and interrogate them.
  • Sev Trek spoofs the scene where the crew of NX-01 Enterforaprize discover a replicator on an alien space station. "Now we don't have to recycle our plots!"
  • Spacetrawler: Space debris, garbage, and dead bodies get dumped into the spacetrawler. Anything the user wants — from food to complex machinery — comes out. It's noted that spacetrawler-produced food tends to tastes like asteroids.
  • In The Whiteboard Doc and Roger once got drunk and tried to upgrade Howie's taps with a replicator, but they crossed some wires and it converted itself and a large chunk of the bar into a flood of nasty warm beer.

    Web Original 
  • Atomic Rockets gives the hard-sci-fi version of this the amusing name of "Santa Claus Engine", on the grounds that you can ask it for anything and you'll get it as long as you don't ask for anything "naughty" and get put on the blacklist, just like sending a letter to Santa. It involves using a fusion reactor to flash-vaporize raw materials into plasma, and using a series of magnetized plates to capture the purified elements. These are boxed/bottled up and used to feed an automatic factory called a "fabber" (and the fusion reactor can be used to power the whole thing, to boot). Since this makes it exceptionally easy to manufacture illegal substances (not just recreational drugs, but highly enriched fissile materials for making nukes), these would need to be strictly policed by a special branch of the military (Santa's elves, if you will), referred to as the "Santa Guard".
  • In Chakona Space, duplicators have a few minor limitations but still prove useful, especially on the Folly during "Alternate Thursdays".
  • Future predicts that 3-d printers will be a mainstream product by 2015 (not quite, sadly), to be supplanted by nanofabricators in 2062 and true matter replicators circa 2190.
  • Orion's Arm has the autofab. It's mentioned that many autofabs are specialized for creating a certain type of product (e.g., mealfabs are specialized for making food), for greater efficiency.

    Western Animation 
  • Frylock's Cloner in Aqua Teen Hunger Force. If it's used too much, Clone Degeneration turns the replicated objects weird — David Lynch weird.
  • In one episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ma Vreedle uses a giant machine to combine cloning mix and salt water in a bid to create four billion Vreedles that would have used the entire oceans of earth.
  • The DuckTales (1987) episode "Dough Ray Me" features a duplication ray that Gyro invented, which can seemingly produce a copy of something out of nothing. An unknown side effect of the device results in anything that's been duplicated to then self-duplicate itself upon being exposed to the chime of a bell. Huey, Dewey and Louie duplicate a coin a few times to buy ice cream, but the sounds of downtown Duckburg cause the coins they spent to continuously keep duplicating, until the streets are flooded with coins. The abundance of coins leads to hyperinflation, and ultimately become a burden to everyone. Eventually, Gyro theorizes that the unstable molecules of all the duplicate coins will eventually cause them to all implode back into the original coin.
  • In the Fangbone! episode "The Kat of Munching", Fangbone and Bill eat fudge made from the pixels of Munchie-Kat. The fudge was supposed to give you a magical nice sweet feel and scent.
  • Futurama uses this type of device a few times.
    • "Benderama" introduces the "Banach-Tarski Dupla-Shrinker," an invention of Farnsworth's that works based on the titular theorem involving disjoint subsets: basically, it scans objects and creates two smaller replicas, though it has to be fed a proportionate amount of matter. Since Bender is technically an object, he abuses this.
    • "Forty Percent Leadbelly" achieves this using a highly advanced 3D printer to make fully functional replicas of any object using complex layers of nano-plastic. The input source can be as simple as a digital photograph; Bender snaps a picture of a guitar and is able to make a facsimile that's identical down to sound quality. After the program is accidentally left running without severing the wireless link to Bender's internal "folk song directory," the printer starts churning out functioning versions of fictional characters from a folk song Bender is working on, meaning that an entire crowd of robots he falls in with to generate material for his songwriting all turn out to have been manifested by the printer based on his lyrics. Because he added a vengeful version of Fry to his song to make it up to Fry for a dispute between them, the printer even creates a replica of Fry good enough to fool Bender himself, and it's only the duplicate Fry's Out of Character behavior that tips Leela off to what's going on.
  • The Transformers: In "Cosmic Rust", one of the key ingredients for Perceptor's Corrostop compound (which undoes and protects against corrosion) runs out. There does not appear to be any more left. Because the Decepticons accidentally caused an outbreak of the titular disease, this is something of a problem, so Perceptor and Wheeljack have to work their butts off to get Wheeljack's Matter Duplicator to actually work so that the Autobots can produce all the Corrostop they need from a tiny remaining sample.

    Real Life 
  • In Albert Einstein's theories (the famous E=mc2), it is possible to replicate energy into matter and vice versa while still following that pesky law of Equivalent Exchange, just like alchemy and Star Trek's replicators, but in order to assemble 1 kilogram of matter, you need to consume as much energy as the detonation of 21.5 megatons of TNT. As a result of other conservation laws, you won't be able to get a kilo of ordinary matter — instead, you'll get half a kilo of matter and half a kilo of antimatter (which, unless contained, will annihilate with ordinary matter yielding back most of the energy you started with and making the whole thing an exercise in futility).
  • The advent of 3D printing has brought this trope one step closer to reality. NASA is already funding research to see if it's possible to use a 3D printer to make food that it is difficult to prepare in zero gravity (Pizza, for example — shredded cheese is quite messy to work with in zero-g).
  • Related is the theoretical Drexler's molecular assembler, an array of nanoscale multipurpose machines that construct whatever you want out of individual molecules and atoms.
  • Claytronics, an emerging nanotechnology centering on tiny computerized "atoms" working together in tandem to construct larger objects.

Alternative Title(s): Fabrication Device