In No Man’s Sky, Cadmium is a very nearly vital resource for one specific reason. You need some in order to build both an Emeril Drive, which lets you warp to systems orbiting green stars, and an Atlas Pass v2. This makes Cadmium the first in a sort of game of rock paper scissors. You construct a Cadmium Drive to get Cadmium, which allows you to build an Emeril Drive and harvest Emeril, which allows you to build an Indium Drive to get Indium. However, there are actually multiple ways to farm Cadmium in NMS! Let’s take a look at some in this guide.
Let’s call this first way to get Cadmium the “traditional” method. You just need an aforementioned Cadmium Drive! Equip this bad boy to your starship and you will suddenly have access to red star systems throughout NMS.
That’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s not too hard. You first need a Cadmium Drive blueprint from Iteration: Hyperion. That’s the NPC who sells starship upgrades on the Space Anomaly. Most players should have this unlocked already, but to be clear, the anomaly unlocks very early on in the Awakenings questline. It’s pretty much mandatory early on in NMS.
No Man’s Sky Cadmium Mining
The blueprint will only set you back 80 Nanite Clusters. You can get these doing a whole mess of things throughout the galaxy: interacting with display cases on space stations, killing pirates, scavenging Derelict Freighters, completing bounties, and so forth. There’s a good chance you already have 80 nanites already. It’s a pretty low sum!
After you have the blueprint, it’s time to craft. Construct the Cadmium Drive in one of your starship’s free slots. This will ask you to insert 250 Chromatic Metal (typically made by refining Copper) and three Wiring Looms. We have a Wiring Loom guide right here, too, if you need help with that.
That’s… basically all there is to it! The Cadmium Drive — like all the other star color upgrades — is completely passive. It simply lets you warp to red stars via the Galactic Map. Find a red star (they’re literally red), go there, and scan the nearby planets in the system. Odds are good one or more of them will declare that it sports Cadmium deposits. These are the big, submerged pockets of material that you suck up with your Terrain Manipulator. Just like Copper and a whole host of other resources.
Congrats! You’ve got Cadmium. That is to say, if you chose that method. There’s actually a much faster (though nominally more expensive) method. One that hardly requires any travel at all and zero crafting. You just need to dismantle some items.
Farming Cadmium Quickly in No Man’s Sky
Specifically, we’re looking for Positron Ejector or Pulse Engine upgrades. Those might sound rare or ultra-specific on paper, but they’re actually dead simple to find. You can get one or more on just about any space station. That includes starbases in red systems, sure, but they’re just as common in “normal” star systems.
Once inside the station, simply head up the ramp to the row of technology merchants. This is on the opposite side of the space station than the Galactic Trade Terminal. In other words, look to your right-hand side if you’re facing towards the hangar door. There should be one NPC for most of the major items that house technology in the game: your Exosuit, your Exocraft, your Multi-Tool, and your starships. Speak to the Technology Merchant: Starship Research vendor in this case. They’ve got what we need.
If you browse the merchant’s wares, they should have all sorts of different upgrades for your ship. These are random — functioning sort of like lootboxes. You don’t know exactly what each item will do until you buy it and “open” it. That doesn’t matter for our purposes, however, since the general purpose of the module is always listen. In this case: we want anything that says Positron Module or Pulse Engine Module. You can hover of them for yourself to see that each of these will contain some sort of upgrade for the Positron Ejector or Pulse Engine.
Each module will cost you a semi-random number of Nanite Clusters. The higher-level ones, marked by S and A tiers, will cost more. You should probably avoid those if possible. It’s not worth the hundreds of nanites required just to get a little bit of Cadmium. We’re just buying these modules to destroy them in a second.
Instead, grab the ones in the C tier and maybe the B tier. Then open them up from your inventory! The items will ask you to install the random mod onto your starship. Do that and, finally, hover over the installed tech to dismantle it. This will remove it from your ship (freeing the slot back up) and award you with a hefty chunk of Cadmium. Plus a couple other materials!
This is by far the fastest method to get Cadmium in NMS. Especially if you want to skip straight to building an Emeril Drive. The issue is that it costs Nanite Clusters which, while widely available, are more of a pain to get than the components needed for a Cadmium Drive.
You basically need decide what’s more valuable to you: time or nanites. Of course, if you don’t have many Nanite Clusters, the choice is moot. You pretty much need to rely on mining it with your Terrain Manipulator in red star systems (just to reiterate).
Refining Cadmium in No Man’s Sky
Finally, you can refine Cadmium using a Medium Refiner or larger. The issue with that is that the formula requires some starting Cadmium in the first place.
The formula goes: 1x Cadmium + 1x Chromatic Metal = 2x Cadmium. So, you’re basically converting one Chromatic Metal into one Cadmium. This can actually be a pretty effective way to double your resources since Chromatic Metal is quite commonplace and easy to get.
Note that, as of the Endurance Update, you can find and/or build a Large Refiner on your Freighter. This saves you the trouble of bouncing back and forth to a base for these more complex formulas.
And that’s it! Those are the primary methods to farm Cadmium in No Man’s Sky. Best of luck getting everything you need!