The first colonization effort was on the planet Valor, not long after the first successes with Light-Transient Engines, and controlled terraformation processes. Initially, it was successful; doubts of the terraforming process's scalability were laid to rest, and everything went as intended up to actual inhabitation of the planet. Using pre-constructed buildings to live, the colonists began to work towards a self-sufficient one. For a while, things were looking good. However, it soon became apparent there was one thing that the colonies could not become self-sufficient in, manufactured goods; especially disposable ones. The only place with the facilities to produce these, was Earth, and resupply from there was expensive, and prevented a colony from becoming a truly self-sufficient entity. Despite special rationing procedures and the use of many reusable goods, it was not enough. Many dedicated factories being built on the planet to produce the goods would not be desirable, and one large all-purpose factory would be too inflexible. So a new idea was put forth, the use of small individual machines that could manufacture basic needs and goods from raw resources or recycled goods. Though it took time to engineer, manufacture, ship, and implement; the effects were immediate, significantly alleviating demands on goods, appropriating funds to advance colonization efforts, earning them an important role in future colonization. However, for large companies looking to mass produce large volumes goods, factories remain signifigantly more cost effective in the long run, and remain the manufactoring method of choice as such by such groups. However, for individuals and small buisnesses unable to afford the large frontend cost of such factories, Constructors are a god-send.
Though there are many different models with varying sizes and exact features, most are about the size four dish-washers stacked 2x2. The inside of the top typically has a variety of robotic arms and tools used to produce the item or items selected. The bottom has space for various molds, dies, as well as actual containment of the physical matierial. Outside of it, is a small terminal where numerous settings and designs for the constructor can be accessed and changed.
A device works by first registering a 'blueprint' file into it with percise instructions of how the item in question is constructed, and placing the necessary components to construct it with as detailed by the blueprint. Most Blueprint files follow a file standard allowing numerous different models to use the same files with which to construct. However, certain items simply cannot be made with certain Constructers, whether it be a size limitation, that the constructer is too old, or that it simply cannot make certain components outside of a certain field of products. Many designs can be found over the Super-Net, often for free. However, there is also a thriving market of peripheral Blueprints for purchase. The appeal of a miniturized multi-purpose manufactoring machine is numerous, hobbyists, entrepranuers, isolated groups, etc.