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By Stacey Marler, Project Manager for Missouri Enterprise & President of the Rolla Tech. Inst., Drafting Technology Board

Blueprinting is the universal language in manufacturing— because it is all about measurements. Reading and applying it correctly in your operations ensures accuracy, which ensures happy customers and suppliers. Not knowing how to read blueprints is like not understanding the language in a foreign country. Here are a few tips on how to sharpen your blueprinting skills:

1. Did you get ALL the information?
Generally, most people tend to look at the drawing views, dimensions and tolerances of a blueprint to get the overall understanding of the part to be manufactured. While this is “okay”, there are many other areas on the blueprint that can hold critical information which may affect manufacturing or pricing.

One overlooked area is the notes section which typically holds information such as finish specifications, heat treating specifications, manufacturing specifications, feature notes, branding and marking details, and general information not specified in the drawing views.

2. Have you checked the title block?
People generally think the “title block” is exclusively for the drawing title and part number. However, most title blocks also contain supplemental information that may change how we look at drawings. One section in the title block can help the reader determine if the drawing is a first or third angle projection. If this is not looked at, you may be looking at the part in the wrong orientation.

Another section to look for is the general tolerances area. If there are no tolerances on the dimension in the drawing view, you will need to check this section for what the tolerances are supposed to be manufactured at. Normally, it states something similar to “Unless otherwise specified tolerances are .XX +/-.030 and .XXX+/-.010.” The third area to verify is the material section, which can include what material the part is supposed to be manufactured from as well as the width/size of that material.

3. Are you still confused?
If you are in doubt about something, then ask. Blueprints are the language we use to communicate instructions throughout the whole manufacturing lifecycle. Blueprints are developed by Engineers and Draftsman to take their vision and to be produced on a manufacturing shop floor.

Occasionally, there are vague or missing details on the print which can create confusion and incorrect parts. Make sure to ask questions before you quote or manufacture parts per the blueprint for your customers.

If you are interested in having Stacey or another member of our team come out to your business and help you sharpen your blueprint reading skills, let me know. We can also hold onsite trainings or provide one-on-one expert support.

Click on the video and hear about some of the up and coming techniques and trends. 

Blueprinting w/Missouri Enterprise from Missouri Enterprise on Vimeo.

Interested in learning about blueprint reading and other Continuous Improvement solutions? We can help!