4.3 - Production Processes

< Seed Factories

A step in the design process is identifying feasible alternatives. For seed factories, the subset of feasible alternatives for a particular factory would be chosen from among the set of all factory processes. This page lists known and possible future processes. It is currently an early draft, so there are likely a number of missing items. There is a large literature on manufacturing processes. We will not repeat all that information here, but rather supply links for further details. In addition to being a catalog for selecting a starter set and later expansion items, this list can be used for analysis of the Universal Factory concept described in section 3.0. A Universal Factory should be capable of eventually performing any of the listed processes in order to make any possible product.

The list is organized according to the general order of production steps, from extracting raw materials to assembly and construction of finished products. These steps are further divided by types and sub-types.

We used the following Wikipedia articles as sources: List of Manufacturing Processes, Chemical Process, and Unit Operation. We also used the Handbook of Manufacturing Processes (Bralla, 2007). Some additional items were added to those sources.


Extraction ProcessesEdit

Solids ExtractionEdit

This is extracting inorganic materials from solid natural sources. It includes:


Fluids ExtractionEdit

This is extracting liquids and gases from natural sources. It includes:

Water Supply of raw water from Rainwater, Groundwater, Lakes, Rivers, the Cryosphere and the Oceans.

Petroleum and Natural Gas production.

Atmospheric Gas Collection including Compressed Air, and individual components like Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Argon.

Organic ExtractionEdit

This is extracting organic materials from natural sources. It does not include agriculture, which is under materials processes because it is artificial, rather than extracting from nature. Organic Extraction includes:

Animal Extraction: including Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing.

Plant Extraction, including collecting fruits, nuts, herbs, and other plant products.

Timber Extraction, when collected from natural rather than managed sources.

Materials ProcessesEdit

Materials begin in a "raw" state, as extracted from natural sources or returned for recycling from artificial sources. Materials processes convert raw materials to "finished" materials. These can either be used as is, such as gasoline as a fuel, or converted to finished products by fabrication and assembly. An example of a finished material is dry lumber, which can be cut and assembled into furniture or structures. Materials processing involves some set of physical, chemical, and electromagnetic Unit Operations, which are the basic elements of a process. Operations may be applied in series or in parallel. For example, boiling and reacting two chemicals may happen at the same time in one device.

Physical ProcessesEdit

Fluid flow processes: including storage in Tanks, transport by means of Piping, Valves, Compressors and Pumps, and control by Flow measurement. The various equipment elements are combined into fluid systems.

Separation processes, like Flash Boiling, Distillation, Absorption, Filtration, and Gravity Separation.

Heat transfer processes involving heating and cooling by radiation, convection, and conduction. They include Condensation, Liquefaction, Refrigeration,Boiling, and Evaporation, heating and baking in a Furnace, and Melting.

Mass transfer processes, including: Membrane Technology, Extraction, Adsorption, Humidification, Drying, Leaching, and Crystallization.

Mechanical processes include moving solids by Conveyors, Pneumatics or Material Handling. It includes modifying solids by Crushing, Pulverization, Milling, and Mulling. It also includes sorting and combining materials by Screening, Sieving, Flotation, Agitation, Mixing, and Fluidization

Chemical ProcessesEdit

A reactor is a device where a chemical reaction occurs, which results in different chemical outputs than the than the reactant inputs. In formulating a chemical process, both the type of reactor and what reaction type(s) happen in it must be chosen.

Reactor TypesEdit

Reactors may be divided into batch and continuous flow types. They may have mixers, catalysts (which are not themselves changed like the reactants) or heating and cooling to create the right reaction conditions. The physical phase (solid, liquid, or gas) of the reactants and outputs may be the same (homogeneous) or different (heterogeneous), and there may be an interface across which heat or mass is transferred. Energy aside from the chemical reactions may be supplied in pressure, kinetic, or potential forms. These conditions affect the physical design of the reactor. The reaction phase types are: Homogeneous - involving liquid-liquid, and gas-gas chemistry, and Heterogeneous - involving gas-liquid, solid-liquid, gas-solid with catalyst, gas-solid without catalyst, solid-solid, and gas-liquid-solid (three phase) chemistry.

The state of the reactants and outputs may differ, yielding the following types of gas-solid reactions: (1) Solid + Gas → Solid + Gas, (2) Solid + Gas → Solid, (3) Solid → Gas + Solid, (4) Solid + Gas → Gas, (5) Solid → Gas, and (6) Gas → Solid + Gas. These various combinations of reactor conditions, plus energy to assist the reaction process, result in the following reactor types:

Pressure Energy

  • Gas-Liquid Reactors - Bubble Columns, including Packed Bed and sectionalized; plate column, external- and internal-loop air-lift reactors, static mixer, and venturi scrubbers
  • Liquid-Liquid Reactors - Spray column, packed extraction column, liquid-liquid adaptations of loop reactors, plate extraction column, and static mixers.
  • Solid-Liquid Reactors - Fluidized-bed reactor, fixed-bed reactor
  • Gas-Solid Catalytic Reactors - Fixed-bed reactors (multi-tubular and staged adiabatic), fluidized-bed reactors (bubbling bed, turbulent bed, fast, and

transport or pneumatic), radial flow reactor, gauze reactor

  • Gas-Liquid-Solid Reactors - Fluidized-bed reactor, slurry reactor

Kinetic Energy - Single-stage and multistage Stirred-Tank Reactors, self-inducing reactor, jet-loop reactor, plunging- jet reactor, surface aerator

Potential Energy - Packed column, trickle-bed reactor, film reactors (falling film, agitated film, scraped/wiped film), rotating disk (or rotating packed-bed) reactor

Reaction TypesEdit

There are a multitude of possible specific chemical reactions, but they can be organized into general and more specific types. The following list is not comprehensive:



Single Replacement (Substitution)

Double Replacement (Metathesis)

Reduction and Oxidation (Redox)










More specific reaction types include:

Electromagnetic ProcessesEdit

Food ProcessesEdit

Fabrication ProcessesEdit

The first three processes, Casting, Forming, and Machining, primarily relate to fabricating metal parts. They can also be used for other sufficiently rigid materials, like plastics, glass, ceramics, and wood. The latter materials, and less rigid ones like fabrics and paper, have more specialized processes, which are listed later.




Additive FabricationEdit

Additive fabrication is the opposite of machining. Where machining produces a part by removing material, additive processes add material to make a part. It is also known as 3D Printing or Rapid Prototyping


Main page: w:Molding (process)

Glass and CeramicsEdit


Paper & PrintingEdit


Electronic ProductsEdit


Assembly & Construction ProcessesEdit

Assembly generally refers to combining finished parts and materials into complete finished products. Construction generally refers to assembly of non-mobile products such as buildings, and includes any work on the land for the construction site. There is no hard line between these two main types. For example, Modular buildings may be partially assembled in a factory, and then the sections joined at the construction site. Therefore the processes listed below can be used for both smaller, transportable products and larger, stationary, ones.

Joining MetalsEdit