The Electric smelter is used to extracts steel from Steel slag chunks and metal weapons and armor. Colonists assigned to crafting will make use of it. Metallic weapons and armor can be smelted to return 25% of their crafting cost. Items can also be destroyed by smelting,
Electric smelters produce heat in process of smelting things (amount comparable to output of one heater). No heat is produced when idle, even if powered on.
Some items sell for more silver than would be required to buy the same amount of materials obtained from smelting, especially at high qualities and hit points. However as some items have low sell value/smelted material ratios, and smelting returns the same materials regardless of quality, damage, biocoding or tainting it can be used to extract moderate value from items of little or no worth otherwise. Both of these facts should be kept in mind while creating any automated smelting bills. It is never recommended to destroy items, as sale for silver brings a little profit as opposed to none at all by destruction.
Sell or Smelt
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The specifics of which items to designate for smelting and which should be kept for sale are still undetermined. It seems like most craftable melee weapons are better to smelt, while sniper rifles are generally better to sell, though this relationship may break down at high and low qualities respectively.
* return for small materials (gold, silver, uranium)
^ The quality where sale price for a Social 10 pawn would gain more silver than would be required to buy equivalent amount of materials.