Ensign James wakes up on the not-enterprise. Yawns. Showers, and gets dressed ready for work. Only to discover gasp, he's out of deodorant. He walks to the matter replicator and orders a can of "not-Axe body spray". 20 seconds later, an aerosol can appears in the dispenser. And he's ready for a long hard day of reversing the polarity and scanning things with his not-tricorder.
But lets think about what's happened there, some advanced process has formed the aerosol can - nanobot swarm moving individual atoms, or an advanced 3D printer shooting raw atoms aligned precisely so they bond the right way, or some other process I can't comprehend, but whatever is going on, the atoms that become the contents must be held under pressure while the body is formed around them.
This isn't just an issue for the matter replicator, it also would be a problem with any teleportation technology that demolecurises and remolecurises you. When "not-scotty" beams up a load of supplies they need to be make sure that the atoms are disassembled, transported, and reassembled in a batch. If not-scotty beams up a can of spray paint, it has to come all at once, otherwise high pressure paint will be sprayed all over the destination or departure point. Not to mention beaming your space-suited crew member into space and having the oxygen bottle and it's contents not re-appear in sync.
I see lots of ways this can be solved, but they all have drawbacks.
- Once the can is sealed no nanobots can get into or out of the can, so you can't print the contents last (or if you do - you lose nanobots stuck inside the can).
- So you can't "build it all at once" by making every atom exist at once. There'd also be nanobots lost between the metal layers of the can.
- You could print a filler tool and then run the filler and then deconstruct it, but that would take extra time (and make lots of noise).
- You also wouldn't want to do a custom atom-ordering or print temporary parts if possible, as that needs to designed by someone as a special case, making the future maintenance of the item library more complex.
- If you can "Pause Time" to hold the gas somehow to stop it leaking despite the container not being finished, you'd also pause your nanobots, deadlocking the print.
- You could pressurise the entire print volume but the contents would mix, making printing a spray paint can a messy job that'd clog up the printer with paint and cover the outside of the can too.
- Printing an oxygen cylinder by forming a sealed cylinder in a high pressure oxygen rich environment would be a massive fire risk.
- Not to mention if the printer is opened to early everyone will get burst eardrums from the pressure wave.
How is a high tech matter printer like those seen in far future sci-fi able to create sealed pressure vessels, like simple aerosol cans?
Inspired by a conversation in the comments of this question