Demystifying the Scrap System
Hi! Here is a little guide on the inner workings of Astroneer's scrap system. This guide will teach you the basics of how scrap works under the hood, and how to use its intricacies to your advantage.
What is Scrap?
The basics of scrap is no mystery; scrap is a resource in Astroneer obtained by shredding manufactured objects or debris from the environment which can be used to trade for other resources at the Trade Platform. Therefore, the logic follows that one can trade one resource for another, using scrap as something like a currency, albeit at a fixed rate because of the fact that the Trade Platform never fluctuates in price.
In this guide, we'll be focusing mostly on shredding objects that the player has created, rather than debris from the environment, as it is vastly more lucrative. Since we are using only objects created by the player, scrap is extremely predictable; the Trade Platform never fluctuates in price, and the amount of scrap any particular object gives is completely fixed, meaning that it is a deterministic system that can be fully documented.
The First Rule of Scrap
Let's get started with one of the core rules of scrap in Astroneer: each resource in Astroneer, with the exception of gases, is assigned a scrap value. Every single printable object yields the sum of the scrap values of the items directly used to print it when shredded. This can be a little bit confusing to understand at first glance, so here's an example to demonstrate this rule: a Hydrazine Thruster can be made with 1 Tungsten and 1 Steel. Tungsten is worth 1.5 scrap, while Steel is worth 1.5 scrap. Therefore, the Hydrazine Thruster should yield 3 scrap when shredded, which it does! Although we can not prove that Tungsten and Steel both always contribute 1.5 scrap to objects' value with just this one example, cross-referencing with other recipes shows that this rule applies for every single object in Astroneer.
From this chart alone, we can deduce that the Chemistry Lab typically destroys scrap in the process of creating another resource, as is immediately obvious because of the fact that Titanium and Nanocarbon Alloy shred for the same amount, which we can confirm by observing that a Medium Storage Silo and an RTG both yield 4 scrap upon being shredded. To clarify, only printable objects, such as platforms, are worth the sum of their parts; craftable resources do not always follow this rule.
Machines' Impact on Scrap Value
The Trade Platform and the Smelting Furnace both adjust the scrap value of whatever they process. The system by which the Trade Platform determines its pricing is very simple: the price for any given resource is double the amount of scrap that you would get by shredding the same resource. One Resin is worth 0.25 scrap; therefore, you must trade 0.5 scrap to get one Resin (1:2 ratio). One Ammonium is worth 0.5 scrap; therefore, you must trade 1 scrap to get one Ammonium (1:1 ratio). Using this, we can show that the Smelting Furnace doubles the scrap value of anything that goes into it. For example, we already know that Glass is worth 0.5 scrap, while Quartz is worth 0.25 scrap, but we can also deduce that Titanite would be worth 1 scrap (half of Titanium's 2 scrap) if it could be shredded, as you must trade 2 scrap to get one Titanite. To summarize, the Trade Platform halves value, while the Smelting Furnace doubles value, meaning that they are effectively polar opposites of each other. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
The Scrap Loop
Since the Smelting Furnace doubles value, and the Trade Platform halves value, we can trade without losing scrap for any resource that can be smelted. Of course, trading over and over again for Titanium is not very useful, but the key component here is that we are not restricted whatsoever by scrap loss from the Trade Platform; the scrap system is no longer an economic system, but rather a convoluted form of alchemy. In theory, we could turn 20 Titanium into 40 scrap, and then to 80 Quartz, and then to 80 Glass and to 40 scrap through Small Wind Turbines and then all the way back to 20 Titanium, all without losing a dime. Basically, we have the ability to turn any smeltable resource into any other smeltable resource and back with no loss, which is an extremely powerful tool.
In Astroneer, there are 4 main "rules" when it comes to scrap:
- Every single resource in Astroneer, with the exception of gases, is assigned a scrap value. Every single printable object yields the sum of the scrap values of the resources directly used to print it when shredded.
- The Trade Platform takes twice the scrap value of any resource to trade for it; for example, Ammonium has a scrap value of 0.5, but 1 Ammonium costs 1 scrap at the trade platform.
- The Smelting Furnace doubles the scrap value of any resource smelted with it; for example, Quartz has a scrap value of 0.25, while Glass has a scrap value of 0.5.
- The Chemistry Lab is inconsistent and has very few rules binding it. It is a net loss in scrap for every single Composite Resource with the sole exception of Rubber.
Rules 2 and 3 cancel out each other, meaning that any smeltable resource can be shredded and then traded for any other smeltable resource without the Trade Platform's tax having any effect. Due to this phenomenon, the scrap system in Astroneer is effectively alchemy, and any smeltable resource can be traded into any other smeltable resource using this system with no loss.