Most PI materials begin life nowadays as products extracted on a planet but the former NPC goods still drop occasionally from missions and of course have vast pre-existing stockpiles that I covered in my last PI Economics post.
The spawn of PI resources on planets is designed to be uneven and to generate different values to the various commodities intrinsically.
There are 3 rare resources that only spawn on one planet and are usually the rarest resource on that planet:
More detailed information about P0 resources is available on the Eve Uni wiki.
You can also see on that page the numbers of each type of planet in the Eve universe. I would argue that type doesn't matter too much for P0-P1 because the rare resources don't spawn on the rarest planets. So while plasma planets may be rare everything that spawns there spawns elsewhere too so it's not a big deal.
This Eve Uni page shows some examples of planetary scans. As you can see, Felsmic Magma is consistently the rarest overall on the lava planets that are examined.
However overall rarity may not matter as long as there are notable hot spots. A hot spot is an area where the resource is concentrated, it shows as a white or red peak on the planetary scan. To give a real world analogy there's more wood about than gold. However where gold is found it's often found in considerable quantity and can be very profitable to mine.
To decide what to farm you need to assess both marketability and your extraction rates. So a resource that sells for 250 but produces 2000 units per hour is better isk than a resource that sells for 300 but produces 1200 units per hour.
To assess your hotspots simply set the slider in the scan window to about two thirds of the way along and scan the resources. If you see white dots for one resource but only red spots or even just green for another resource the first has hot spots that provide considerably more resources per hour. The better your scanning skills the more accurate this information will be.
Most people will naturally tend to prefer P2s that can be made without importing resources. For example you can make Construction Blocks on Plasma or Lava planets entirely from local resources.
There are 3 resources that require imports:
These are more expensive to produce than other P2s because you must pay import fees and you must spend time moving the resources.
If your PI setup relies on producing P2 locally (like mine does) avoid these products for now. They are more work than other P2s and are not currently more expensive.
If you are set up to extract on some planets and then transport resources to a refining planet then the first two are probably good choices. They aren't very expensive yet but I predict they will become so. Silicate glass is pointless to make because of substantial stockpiles.
There are two additional factors introduced at this stage to diversify value. Some P3s are made of 3 different P2 types and some only use 2. Also most P3 requires importing.
The P3s that require 3 different P2 types are:
Biotech Research Reports
Hazmat Detection Systems
Certain P3s require no importing of resources and can be produced entirely on a single planet. Each planet type has exactly one P3 product it can produce without imports:
Ukomi Super Conductors
I don't recommend producing these. I started out trying to produce them and what I found was that in order to cover the 3-4 P0 resources needed your PIN layout is too spread out. Your links are too long. Unless you found a planet with 4 white resource hot spots all at the same spot then you will need to stretch your network.
However note that other people may be attracted to the production of these commodities, PI seems designed to encourage this. But for me exporting is a lesser evil than long links.
Again there are inequalities designed in. Remember too that at each stage the inequalities are compounded by inequalities in earlier steps of production.
At P4 there are 3 products that use 2 P3 plus a P1 rather than the standard 3 P3 products. These can normally be expected to be cheaper to produce:
Organic Mortar Applicators
In practical terms this means these can be very easy to make indeed. Organic Mortar Applicators is produced from Condensates (can be produced on a single planet with no importing), Robotics (huge stockpiles of this former NPC good remain) and Bacteria (which is an easy P1).
Integrity Response Drones and Wetware Mainframes not only require 3 P3s each but each of their P3s also requires 3 component resources. These two are specifically designed to be more demanding to produce than standard. No other P4 has a subcomponent P3 that requires 3 P2s to make.
Thanks to everyone who has followed this so far. The final two installments will cover recent market trends and conclusion (with a look at my set up).