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The airlock workshop

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Hi everyone, I thought I'd make a thread about airlocks because I couldn't find much consolidated information on making good ones. I'm trying to make a "perfect" airlock, but with a few constraints.

So let's first address the elephant in the room: Water Locks


There are various forms, each creating a perfect seal. They don't slow down duplicants much and can handle any number of dupes passing through them in any direction. The right one using oil, petroleum and water can even prevent temperature transfer and dupes don't get debuffed when walking through.

... But that's really too easy as far as I'm concerned. These might even get nerfed at some point (Klei hint: Dupe clothes might suddenly start to absorb liquids they step in, causing liquid to get displaced or spilled over the floor ;)) I'm looking for airlock designs that use proper airlock doors and pumps to seal off the good air from the bad (or nonexistent) air.

So here are the rules:

  1. Airlock must create a perfect seal. No gas should be allowed to pass from one side to the other.
  2. Airlock must be able to maintain a vacuum on one side. This also allows it to be useful as an access point to the surface in the Cosmic update.
  3. Airlock preserves all gases. Never waste good gas, so this excludes designs that use multiple chained airlock doors to delete gas.
  4. Duplicants may not visually pass through any liquid, even if they don't get a debuff. This excludes all traditional waterlock designs while still allowing liquid to be used for displacing air inside (or outside) the airlock.
  5. Airlock prevents temperature transfer. Given the other requirements set, this is quite easy by simply using abyssalite for tiles in the airlock but I'm putting it here for completeness' sake.

Within these rules, there are still various designs possible and there are various stats that could be optimized:

  • Size - Smaller airlocks are easier to fit in with other parts of the base. Usually airlocks are wider than they are tall, but a multi-level airlock that can really keep the width down might be a great design to have as well!
  • Speed - The faster a single duplicant can get from one side to the other, the better.
  • Traffic - How does the airlock handle a lot of traffic? Does it get congested when 5 dupes try to go through in different directions at the same time?
  • Power - Pumps can be power hungry if they have to run a lot, and in the Cosmic upgrade the mechanized airlock doors require power in order to open and close quickly.
  • Pathfinding - Does the airlock stop duplicants from pathfinding past the airlock when it is being used? This happens if mechanized airlock doors are opened and closed with automation. The less time the airlock blocks pathfinding, the better.
  • Tech level - Having an airlock that doesn't score so well on the other stats but works well with only early game technology and resources (no plastic and perhaps no or very little refined metals) would be good too!

If you're going to tinker with a design like this, you might find this thread useful on how pump ranges work.

To start off, here's two designs I've managed to come up with that can maintain a vacuum room. Unfortunately it's not very cheap on power and it's not exactly small.


Automation overlay in the spoiler:



The buffer gates are set to 3 seconds. The Atmo Sensors are set to above 0 g.

I didn't include the power or gas overlays because everything is simply hooked up to one wire and each pump has a pipe going straight down and outside. As you might notice, the right airlock is different from the left one. This is because the mini pumps detect gas to the right of them, but not to the left and the room doesn't get vacuumed quickly enough if I simply mirrored the left airlock.

If you've come up with any designs of your own or are inspired to create one, please share your findings and designs here! Maybe you can make an airlock that's smaller, faster, uses less power, using lower technologies or all of the above!

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1 hour ago, Lutzkhie said:

this is great but i wonder if theyll remove this too the stacking of different water types making an airlock

At the rate they are changing things I wouldn't be surprised tbh. I do need to look at airlock designs again cuz I havnt been using any recently

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