A blueprint is a type of paper-based reproduction usually of a technical drawing, documenting an architecture or an engineering design. More generally, the term "blueprint" has come to be used to refer to any detailed plan.
Various base materials have been used for blueprints. Paper was a common choice; for more durable prints linen was sometimes used, but with time, the linen prints would shrink slightly. To combat this problem, printing on imitation vellum and, later, polyester film (Mylar) was implemented.
Replacements for blueprints
Traditional blueprints have largely been replaced by more modern, less expensive printing methods and digital displays. In the early 1940s, cyanotype blueprint began to be supplanted by diazo prints or whiteprints, which have blue lines on a white background; thus these drawings are also called blue-lines or bluelines. Other comparable dye-based prints are known as blacklines.
Diazo prints remain in use in some applications but in many cases have been replaced by Xerographic print processes similar to standard copy machine technology using toner on bond paper. More recently, designs created using Computer-Aided Design techniques may be transferred as a digital file directly to a computer printer or plotter; in some applications paper is avoided altogether and work and analysis is done directly from digital displays. Another common modern method of copying is the use of large-format scanners. These digitize an image which can then be printed with a large-format plotter.
As print and display technology has advanced, the traditional term "blueprint" has continued to be used informally to refer to each type of image.
Page, Walter Hines; Page, Arthur Wilson (November 1915). "Man And His Machines: Electric Blue Printing Machine". The World's Work: A History of Our Time XXXI: 113. http://books.google.com/?id=09_Sr9emceQC&pg=PA113. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
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