The alternate recipes provide a lot of depth to the otherwise linear production lines as well as motivation for exploration. Overall, they are a really cool idea but they could use some work and I would like to discuss. I saw that a notice was added for posting "questions" so if there is a better place to discuss this, please let me know.
I love starting with basic production lines and then having to change them later. The alts give me a reason to keep optimizing. On this site, I have seen only complaints about this but for me it encourages building new factories and allows me to make use of different resources available in different locations on the map. I don't need everything at every factory.
The progression of the alts makes a lot of sense in some areas but not in others. The progression from iron to basics, copper to wire, and coal + iron to steel changing to an alloy of copper and iron that is then made into iron wire and enriched steel is fantastic. My favorite alts are the ones that make sense IRL, like enriched steel. However, the recipe for steel screws and a few others makes no sense.
Compacted coal sounds cool but is very underwhelming. Its not really better in vehicles, its not as good as using iron ingots for steel, the only place it works well is in making black powder and that doesn't make any sense to combine the same thing twice. Maybe they have better plans for this in the future.
I understand taking the alts away from the craft bench but with this change, could we use the desk in the hub to view all of our recipes and plan things out? The recipe pop-up when hovering over items in menus is probably the best UI improvement that has been made, but it is insufficient when planning and tracking what you have unlocked so far.
Also, could we have some alts that do work in the craft bench. Maybe craft bench only alts that are expensive but use basic materials so I can craft parts I need while I am exploring without bringing one of everything. Please don't nerf the craft bench. It goes a long way to both teaching the game as well as making early game more forgiving!