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Matter Synthesizer

A Matter Synthesizer creates four Sargun hats.

Lieutenant, have you ever studied the history of money? . . . It became obsolete with the invention of matter synthesis.Kelly Grayson to John LaMarr[1]

Matter synthesis, or rarely replication,[2][3] is the dematerialization of matter via synthesizers and rematerialization as something else. Matter synthesis has two major branches, generic matter sythensis and food synthesis, each exploited by different devices: Matter Synthesizers and Food Synthesizers.

Matter synthesis is an older technology in the Planetary Union, as food synthesis dates at least to the year 2320.[n 1]

Matter Synthesizer[]

Matter Synthesizer is a device that dematerializes inorganic matter via magnets and rematerializes it as goods.[4] Matter Synthesizers reproduce nearly any inorganic item requested. Instructions must be programmed into the Synthesizer's computer. Matter Synthesizers are ubiquitous across Planetary Union spacecraft.

USS Orville[]

On board the USS Orville, Matter Synthesizers can be found throughout the ship in general public spaces, including one in the Mess Hall[n 2] and five in an unnamed room designed to fabricate household items such as furniture and clothing.[n 3] The Synthesizer is controlled through the Computer.

Food Synthesizer[]

Food Synthesizer

Klyden orders rocky road ice cream from the Food Synthesizer in his quarters.

Food Synthesizer is a specialized device that dematerializes organic matter called foodstock via magnets and rematerializes it as consumable food.[5] As a matter of technology, food synthesis is a specific kind of matter synthesis, used throughout the Planetary Union and by the Calivon.[6]

Food Synthesizers reproduce any food or beverage requested—including the dish it is traditionally served in. Recipes must be programmed into the Synthesizer's computer.[n 4] Cubes of organic material called foodstock are deconstructed by powerful magnets and reassembled.[5]

When a recipe is preset, the Food Synthesizer can generate the item without using the ship's Computer.[7]

Food Synthesizers are ubiquitous across the Planetary Union, found in residences, spacecraft, and shuttlecraft. For example, Ed Mercer and Kelly Grayson note they had a Food Synthesizer back in their New York apartment.[6]

BCV Burton[]

The BCV Burton, an old battleship from the early 24th century, maintained at least two numbered Food Synthesizers in its Mess Hall.[7]

USS Orville[]

On board the USS Orville, every crewmember's quarters equipped with a Food Synthesizer, and several public-use synthesizers are found throughout the ship: at least one in the Mess Hall and another in a hallway leading to the Bridge.[n 5] The Synthesizer is controlled through the Computer. It is implied that some Union ships do not carry Food Synthesizers in every living quarters.[n 6]


Food Synthesizer

A virus causes the synthesizer to produce only a black slop.

At some point prior to the 25th century, matter synthesis was developed as a method to fashion any desired good, ushering in the end of resource-scarcity and the dawn of the post-economy. Synthesizers are ubiquitous across Planetary Union spacecraft, including its shuttlecraft.

The Synthesizer's ability to recreate any food and goods with virtually no cost was partly responsible for ending resource scarcity and ushering Earth into a post-economic age. Despite food synthesis supplanting the need for soil-grown food, grown (or "real") food and cooking with grown ingredients continue to be enjoyed in the early 25th century alongside synthesized food.[n 7][n 8][n 9] Very few people could tell the difference between "real" food and that which was synthesized and very few people still knew how to bake.[8]

However, it is understood though never explicitly stated that dysonium, a fuel source for quantum engines, is generally not synthesized as it would entail energy loss overall.

Like Earth, the people of Alibar stopped using money and turned to matter synthesis by 2320. After the Alibar left the Union in 2401, they were unable to maintain synthesizer technology and resources became scarce again - though one Alibaran in 2421 speculated that food synthesizers were still used by the wealthy.[9]

The invention of matter synthesis is generally considered a game-changer for any society as, when shared freely among the populace, it completely eliminated the traditional system of working for a living as was common in most cultures. This concept was that which newcomers to the Planetary Union had the hardest time adjusting to.[10]

Matter Synthesizer[]

Inside the room with several Matter Synthesizers, Klyden fashions new clothes. An unidentified alien creates a pillow with a picture of his specie and the words 'Have a Slimy day!'[11]

Back in the unnamed matter synthesis room, a small away team to Sargus 4 creates disguises.[12]

While on the surface of Kandar 1, Captain Mercer opts not to use the ship's Matter Synthesizers to design costumes as it will take too long.[13]

Ship bartender Olix synthesizes a phonograph for the Mess Hall in the summer of 2420. Chief Engineer John LaMarr creates a stylish new jacket for Helmsman Gordon Malloy a week later.[14]

Food Synthesizer[]

Chief of Security Alara Kitan uses a Food Synthesizer located in the Orville's halls to produce a shot of Xelayan tequila to calm her nerves.[6]

Commander Grayson synthesizes hash brownies in the shuttle ECV-197-1. Later, while Ed and Kelly are trapped within their exhibit in the Calivon Zoo, Kelly makes herself comfortable and orders a slice of chocolate cake.[6]

In late 2419, Klyden orders a bowl of ice cream from his quarters' Food Synthesizer to remedy his depression.[15]

Ed takes Kelly on a date in his quarters, insisting on cooking instead of the Food Synthesizer.[13]

James Duncan, Marcus Finn, and an unnamed third friend hack into a Food Synthesizer to create a bottle of vodka.[14]

Within the Chief of Security's Office, Gordon Malloy uses the Food Synthesizer to respectively produce a glass of whiskey and Xelayan rum for himself and Chief of Security Talla Keyali.[16]

Though not strictly a food, Bortus uses his Food Synthesizer to produce 21st century-style cigarettes, one of which is eaten by Klyden. After Bortus and Klyden light cigarettes and inhale the smoke produced, they quickly become addicted, with Bortus synthesizing 500 cigarettes at once. Eventually, as both Bortus and Klyden struggle to overcome their addiction, Bortus engages Klyden in a scuffle when he attempts to synthesize a cigarette. Fortunately, it is at this point that Doctor Claire Finn formulates a solution to their tobacco dependency.[17]

Bortus orders 500 cigarettes from the Food Synthesizer, but only 464 appear.

Alternate timeline[]

The Planetary Union maintains a listening post on Sarin 4 with a Food Synthesizer in storage in an alternate timeline, and possibly in the original timeline as well.


The idea for matter synthesis derived from Gene Roddenberry, inspirator of Star Trek, who imagined a post-scarcity universe thanks to replicators. "It was important to take a cue from Gene Roddenberry that somehow we’ve gotten past money," creator Seth MacFarlane recalled shortly before the The Orville premiered. "Money can’t be a factor. It’s too primitive. I really love that, in 'Star Trek,' reputation becomes the main form of currency in the absence of money."[18] He has also said that matter synthesis is one of the most important elements of utopian science fiction because it allows the "philosophy of that show to exist."[19]

Matter Synthesizer[]

The name matter synthesizer is not used in the show (although Commander Grayson does refer to "matter synthesis"[20]), but is revealed as the term used by the show's creators in the book The World of the Orville.


  • Though Food Synthesizers are located throughout the Orville, the vessel's Mess Hall has an active bartender.[n 10]
  • According to production designer Stephen J. Lineweaver, Food Synthesizers are in all quarters on the Orville.[21]
  • Matter synthesis is referred to only as "synthesis" in The World of the Orville.
  • It is unclear whether the Krill possess matter synthesis. Despite being indicated as being technologically on-par with the Planetary Union, their society nevertheless maintains a culture with a bedrock of commerce and beggars can be seen on the streets of their home planet. It is possible, however, that only those within the upper echelons have access to such technology. Alternatively, given the society's worship of the tenets of the Anhkana, it is possible that their religion forbids the use of such technology.[22]


Matter synthesis[]

Matter Synthesis room[]

Matter Synthesizer[]

Food Synthesizer[]


  1. In 2421, Ed Mercer says the Alibar have used food synthesizers for at least over a century. Episode 2.5x01: Launch Day, Pt. 1
  2. Some of the items synthesized for Bortus includes napkins and other inorganic items. Episode 1x06: Krill.
  3. Simply called the "Matter Synthesizer area" in The World of the Orville. Pg. 70.
  4. Mercer tells the Navarians that his crew bothered to program spiceroot into the Food Synthesizers. Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger.
  5. Alara Kitan orders Xelayan Tequila from a Food Synthesizer in a hallway somewhere near the Bridge. Episode 1x02: Command Performance.
  6. Kitan points out to Darulio that his quarters will come equipped with a Food Synthesizer, which he finds amazing. Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger.
  7. The Union ships 300 crates of "authentic autumn squash." Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  8. Mercer takes Grayson on a date in his quarters and insists on cooking only with real food. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry.
  9. Moclan aspada seems not synthesized, as it is a nine-year-old juice containing a parasite. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry.
  10. Alien Bartender appears in Episode 1x01: Old Wounds and Episode 1x02: Command Performance.