And when I say tomorrow, I mean it.
Fabricators are not entirely ubiquitous in the Steel Beneath the Skin world, but they are fairly common. These are devices able to manufacture just about anything, quickly and efficiently, using a basic set of component feedstocks rather than building from parts. Aneka uses the fabricators on the Garnet Hyde to make clothes, devices, weapons, just about anything you care to name. All that is required is a pattern and a supply of materials. The patterns used for this equipment use a form of digital rights management to control manufacturing; you don’t get to use a pattern without paying for it, though many public domain patterns exist.
But fabricators are future technology. You can’t just get some gadget to print up whatever you want from a structural diagram, can you? Well, yes. 3D Printing technology is becoming more and more ubiquitous in today’s world. Today I saw this article on the BBC web site. NASA have successfully tested a rocket engine component made on a 3D printer. What’s more, the complex component took significantly less time and money to produce this way than with traditional manufacturing techniques.
Fabricators, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting pretty close.