I have three characters in EVE Online who are all trained in Planetary Interaction (PI) skills. I set up two of these characters to produce items needed for making fuel for a POS (player-owned starbase), and they provide enough of those resources to keep a modest industrial operation going. I considered doing the same with a third character, but decided instead to experiment with making something different.
I settled on making Nanite Repair Paste (NRP), which is used to repair overheated modules and which is also used by Ancillary Armor Repairer modules. Making NRP is a moderately complicated PI process, and serves as a good example of how to make more advanced, and potentially more lucrative, items for sale in the market.
First, a caveat: there is no one perfect way to set up a PI production chain, and I've no doubt that the method I used could be improved upon. I share this only in hope that it might be of help to those beginning to dabble in more advanced PI production. If you have ideas for how to do this better, please leave them in a comment, with my gratitude.
PI skills are relatively low-level and quick to train. The two most important skills for setting up your NRP-producing character are Interplanetary Consolidation and Command Center Upgrades, both of which should be trained at least to level 4. The former skill increases the number of planets upon which you can perform PI. My character is trained to level 4, which allows PI operations on five planets. The latter skill allows you to install command centers with more powergrid and CPU, which in turn allows you to install more facilities on a planet, and make it more productive.
You will also need your Industry skill trained to level 5, in order to conduct the last step in the NRP production process - running an industry job in a station or a POS with a suitable manufacturing facility.
Plan PI Operations
This is by far the most important step in setting up any PI process. Take the time to research and document exactly what you will need to create the items you want. An exceptional resource to use is the EVE University wiki guide to PI - it is comprehensive and provides all you need to set up a successful PI colony.
To create Nanite Repair Paste, one must possess:
- A Nanite Repair Paste blueprint - although all the required materials needed to make NRP come from PI, the actual manufacturing of NRP is an industry manufacturing step, which requires a blueprint. Each run produces 10 units of NRP. You can acquire an NRP BPO (blueprint original) in the market in a wide variety of stations for 50 million ISK.
- Three PI-produced materials:
- Nanites (minimum 4)
- Gel-Matrix Biopaste (minimum 1)
- Data Chips (minimum 1)
Working backwards from those required ingredients, using the tables in the UniWiki guide, we can see that we will need to set up PI colonies as follows:
This arrangement produces most - but not all - of the items needed to produce NRP. Microfiber Shielding is a required material that needs items produced on two different types of planets - Silicon from a Plasma planet, and Industrial Fibers from a Temperate planet. Rather than set up seven different colonies in a couple different systems, which would require the use of a second character, I decided to simply purchase that one item from the market. This reduces my profit margins a bit, to be sure, but it makes the production chains easier to manage.
With these colonies, the flow of materials is therefore:
With your operations plan in hand, you can then determine exactly what PI structures you need to acquire to set up your colonies. Again, the comprehensive UniWiki guide is a valuable resource for double-checking your shopping list and learning the mechanics of setting up effective colonies.
Many people obsess over their PI colony topography, but I simply place my command center somewhere between the two primary resource concentrations that I wish to extract, and then place my extractors and processors close to those concentrations, linking them all together and setting up routes to move all materials through a central spaceport on each planet. In that way, any excess materials stockpile in the spaceport until needed, and any imported items will be automatically added to the materials routes to the appropriate processors.
Once your colonies are operating and stockpiling the required items, you can then begin to shuttle those materials as required to the various planets. I use an industrial ship to move materials around a couple times a week. I made a little checklist to make sure I run it in the proper order:
Reap the Rewards
After collecting all the required materials for NRP production, I typically gather these in a station with a manufacturing facility, and run the job there. If I was trying to maximize returns, I would search for a station with lower usage to reduce job costs, or even better, bring the materials to a more efficient POS facility to make it there.
Using the new Industry window, it's easy to set up and run the short production jobs needed to produce the final NRP product. You can also reduce cost or production time by using Teams, if they are available in your system, though I rarely do this myself.
How profitable is all this work, you may ask? Candidly, not that much, especially when compared to other activities in EVE Online. NRP currently sells for about 16,645 ISK per unit in Jita, and I'm producing about 1,500 units per week with my admittedly very casual high-sec production chain - a weekly gross sales value of about 25 million ISK, or close to 100 million ISK per month. After deducting expenses, from planetary import/export fees, purchasing Microfiber Shielding and industry job costs, I estimate that my net profit margin is running at about 20 percent, or maybe a little higher if I manage expenses carefully.
Note also that I am doing this in low-risk high security space. The amounts of materials produced by PI in low-sec, null-sec or in wormholes are much higher, thereby making this enterprise much more lucrative in those types of space. I simply prefer an easier and more casual production process - your mileage can differ according to your personal degree of risk tolerance and attention to detail.
However, as a rule, I don't sell my NRP, but instead keep it for use in my own PvP activities. In that regard, I think of my NRP production chain as a very low-effort way to save 100 million per month in expenses. That alone makes it worth my time.
All the Cool Kids are Doing It
If you've not yet explored planetary interaction, consider doing so. Setting up your initial colonies requires only a small degree of effort and time, and once established, they need just a little nurturing once or twice a week to maintain a nice income stream, or to reduce your operating costs in other aspects of EVE Online. If you are serious about maximizing your returns, you can invest more time and set up your colonies in riskier space, and thereby earn some healthy amounts of ISK for your labors.
I'm teaching a class on PI basics for EVE University on Friday, September 19 at 16:00 EVE Time. The class is open to everyone - join us if you are interested in starting a PI operation. If you can't make the class, you can hear free recordings of that syllabus here.
Fly safe! o7
I received an e-mail from Sam asking how I configured my Storm planet to produce Gel-Matrix Biopaste. Here is a picture of that colony: