With a traditional lathe, stock is spun in place while various tools are used to remove small amounts of material at a time until the desired look is achieved. Nanolathe technology, quite similar to the real-life process of 3D printing, is the reverse of this. Working from a pre-defined blueprint in memory, a construction unit sprays down microscopic particles, layer upon layer, until the build is complete. Once the blueprint is established, other construction units may assist with building up the layers, even if they do not have the blueprint themselves.
Appearance in Supreme Commander
The different factions in Supreme Commander all use nanolathes, but the methods differ somewhat.
UEF establish the blueprint by surrounding the area with blue-glowing field. The particles are then sprayed in place by beams. Cybran contructors release small, flying drones. The blueprint appears as a red-glowing structure, and the building takes place by the drones using red beams. Aeon create a vortex field from where the building rises.