Now that you know the fundamentals of creating a network, connecting cables and setting up a storage system, it’s time to get to the really good stuff: autocrafting.
Applied Energistics 2 features a very complex recursive automatic crafting system. “Recursive” means that the system is capable of automatically crafting not only the item(s) that you order, but also the individual ingredients for those items. For very complex crafting recipes, this may save you a lot of time. A fully functional autocrafting setup requires a number of components, which we will be discussing in detail in this tutorial.
This tutorial is part of a series on Applied Energistics 2.
The Crafting Processor
Crafting processors handle the “management” side of the autocrafting process. They are assembled by placing the following blocks into a cuboid pattern:
- Crafting Storages
Available in 1K, 4K, 16K and 64K units, these components provide the memory for your crafting jobs. The more items you order, and the more complicated your crafting jobs are, the more memory you need in your crafting processor.
- Crafting Co-Processing Units
Each Co-Processing Unit increases the number of simultaneous crafting jobs that a crafting processor can run, which means that you crafting orders finish faster. This comes in handy if you want to order large amounts of items.
- Crafting Monitors
The Crafting Monitor shows the item that is currently being crafted by it, and the number of items that are still on order.
- Crafting Units
Crafting units are the ingredient from which all other crafting processor parts are constructed. They can be placed as a valid part of a crafting processor cuboid, but they do not have a function of their own (other than to fill gaps).
When you place the blocks to construct your crafting processor, they will turn into a dark grey once they are in a valid cuboid shape:
Note that in the example above, the cable does not connect because the structure does not have a valid cuboid shape. As soon as you place the missing block in the middle, it turns into a valid crafting processor and connects to AE2 cables:
As a general rule, a crafting processor should have at least 2-3 co-processing units in its structure, one crafting monitor and at least 4K crafting storage capacity. The crafting monitor shows the currently active crafting order, which may help you identify affected crafting processors in case a crafting order does not complete for some reason.
The storage components and co-processors will allow you to automatically craft sufficiently complex items well into the mid-game. When you are starting out, two cuboid crafting processor structures should be enough to last you for a long while. If you find that you are crafting a lot of items or very complex items often, you may want to add additional crafting processors, or expand the ones you have with more co-processors.
Interfaces and Molecular Assemblers handle the actual item crafting in the autocrafting process. The Interface acts as a relay between the items stored in your AE2 network and machine inventories outside of that network. They can pull items from your network inventory, and any items that are pumped into it (with Thermal Expansion itemducts, or instance) are saved within your network inventory. In addition to that, they hold the crafting recipe patterns with which the molecular assembler crafts the items. Each interface requires one AE2 network channel.
Interfaces have a number of other uses outside of autocrafting, but for now we will just be looking at what’s relevant for our autocrafting setup. The GUI of an ME Interface looks like this:
- Config: These slots hold items that have been pumped into the interface. Normally the items would enter the AE2 network inventory pretty much immediately, but if the cable connection to your network controller is interrupted somehow, or if the network does not have enough power, the items will amass in these slots, meaning: if something is in those slots, there is a problem somewhere in your network.
- Patterns: These slots hold crafting recipe patterns for autocrafting. We’ll get to that later.
- Blocking Mode: This determines the item placement behavior when your interface is pointed at another machine or inventory. Not relevant for a simple autocrafting setup.
- Interface Terminal: This option allows you to show or hide this particular interface from the view in an interface terminal. This should generally stay enabled.
- Priority: This allows you to set the crafting priority of this interface. The higher the priority value, the lower the priority in the crafting process. This option may come in handy, if two different crafting recipes have the same output, but you want to prioritize one over another.
- Card Slot: You can place a crafting card here. This will allow the interface to request items to be crafted from the network. Not revelant for a simple autocrafting setup.
The Interface needs a Molecular Assembler closeby to be able to craft items.
The Molecular Assembler
Where the Interface provides the crafting recipe and the ingredients, the Molecular Assembler handles the actual crafting of ordered items. It does not require a channel to run. Here’s the GUI of a Molecular Assembler:
- Crafting area of the currently active crafting recipe.
- Crafting result.
- Crafting progress bar.
- Crafting pattern slot: You can manually place a designated crafting pattern here. Note that this will make the assembler unusable for crafting by interfaces.
- Accelerator Card slots: You can place up to five accelerator cards in these slots to speed up the crafting process. Autocrafting is already pretty fast by default, and adding additional accelerator cards to a molecular assembler will make crafting almost instantaneous.
An ME Interface can use all Molecular Assemblers that it is touching. Molecular Assemblers function like a AE2 network cable, but they do not require a network channel themselves. This means that you can place up to eight interfaces in a honeycomb pattern with molecular assemblers like this:
The example above may not be 100% efficient, but since each interface touches at least two molecular assemblers, it will suffice for most use cases. Its simple rectangular pattern will also allow you to embed it into a floor. If you do not want to embed it into a floor, you can also choose to go for a 2x2x4 block pattern in which each interface touches at least three molecular assemblers:
If you would like to make sure that each interface has a maximum amount of access to assemblers, you can simply surround each individual interface with molecular assemblers on all six sides:
Now that you have set up and connected your crafting processors, interfaces and molecular assemblers, you need to create crafting patterns for the items you want to autocraft. In order to create and use these patterns, you need blank patterns, a ME Pattern Terminal, and a ME Interface Terminal.
Place the ME Pattern Terminal on a network cable with a free channel and open it. Let’s take a look at the GUI:
- Inventory: This shows the items stored in your network. Items that are marked as “Craft” instead of a number indicate items that can be autocrafted.
- Search: You can search for specific items here. Clicking on button (13) changes the search mode and allows for synchronisation with the items in your Not Enough Items (NEI) view on the right.
- Crafting Recipe: This is where you can specify a crafting recipe by placing ingredients in the crafting field. If the recipe is valid, the output will be visible in field (6).
- Clear: Clicking this button will clear the crafting recipe field (3) and the crafting result field (6).
- Ore-Dict Substitutions: Clicking this option will allow crafting recipes to use items from other mods. For example, if a recipe would require copper ingots, setting this option to allow for substitions would mean that you could craft the item with any copper ingot, regardless of whether or not that ingot is from Immersive Engineering, Thermal Expansion, or any other mod. I highly recommend setting this to allow for substitutions.
- Crafting Result: An item will only show up in this field if you have set a valid crafting recipe in field (3).
- Blank Pattern Slot: Place blank patterns you want to encode in this slot.
- Encode Pattern: Click this button to encode the current crafting recipe in a pattern.
- Encoded Pattern Output: Encoded patterns ready for usage in an interface will be put into this slot once you press button (8).
- Sort By: Clicking this button allows you to sort your inventory by “Item name,” “Number of items,” “Mod,” and “Inventory Tweaks.”
- View: This button allows to view only stored items, only craftable items for which there are encoded patterns somewhere in the network, or both stored and craftable items.
- Sort Order: Allows you to change the order of your currently active sorting option from button (10).
- Search Box Mode: This button allows you to synchronize the AE2 search box (2) with your Not Enough Items (NEI) inventory view. That way you don’t have to leave the GUI in order to look up crafting recipes.
- Terminal Style: No idea what this option does; if you know it, a comment would be appreciated.
- Crafting Status: Opens the crafting status GUI – we’ll look at this a bit further down.
- View Cell Slots: You can place view cells here to restrict the amount of items visible in the inventory (1).
- Crafting Pattern / Processing Pattern: This button determines whether you encode a crafting pattern or a processing pattern. We will be looking at processing patterns in a separate tutorial.
Now the fastest way to create an encoded pattern works like this: You open the ME Pattern Terminal, and with the Search Box Mode (13) set to “NEI Synchronized Standard“, you enter the name of the item you want to encode in the search bar (2). Then hover over that in the NEI view to the right of the screen and press the “R” key to open the recipe view.
Hold the “Shift” key down and left-click the question mark button (1). This will transfer the recipe into the crafting recipe field (3) of the Pattern Terminal. Now make sure that there’s at least one blank pattern in the designated slot (7) and press the encode button (8) to receive the encoded crafting recipe in slot (9).
Now we need the ME Interface Terminal. Place it on a network cable with a free channel and right-click it to open its GUI:
- Search: Allows you to search for specific encoded crafting or processing recipes.
- Machine Name: Shows the name and amount of the machines or inventories that ME Interfaces in the network are connected to.
- Interface Pattern Slots: Shows the encoded crafting patterns that are currently in interfaces within the network.
Take the pattern that you encoded earlier and place it in one of the free slots below the section that says “Molecular Assembler.” This pattern is now available for autocrafting in your network. You can also manually place the encoded pattern in a interface of your choosing.
The Crafting Status GUI
Finally, let’s take a look at the crafting status GUI. Place a sufficiently large order of the item and open the crafting status GUI. You can access it by clicking on the hammer symbol in the top right corner of an ME Terminal interface, marked with the number (7) in the screenshot below:
Clicking the hammer (7) will switch to the crafting status GUI:
- Active Orders
The main interface area shows all crafting orders active on one single crafting CPU. The number “Stored” indicates the number of items reserved for crafting by the network, “Crafting” indicates the number of items that are currently being crafted, “Scheduled” indicates the number of items that await crafting. Once a crafting order has been completely fulfilled, the crafted items are stored within the network for retrieval, and the screen is wiped clear.
- ME Crafting Terminal, or ME Terminal
Allows you to return to the main interface window.
Allows you to switch between the different crafting CPUs connected your network. Useful if you want to check up on the progress of several crafting orders that are running on different crafting CPUs at the same time.
Cancels the currently active crafting order.
Now you know everything to start your own autocrafting system.
To review what we have learned:
Crafting Processors manage the autocrafting process, interfaces provide inward and outward access to items in the network inventory, molecular assembles need interfaces to craft. Autocrafting recipes are created in the pattern terminal and can be placed into the interface terminal, which also shows you all interfaces connected to the network (unless that option is disabled in an invididual interface).
That concludes this tutorial. We will looking at automated item processing such as furnace smelting next.