Monthly Archives: April 2018

  • Don't Bluff -- Become A Blueprint History Buff!

    California has more architects than any other state with 17,241 architects as of 2016. The state with the second-most, New York, has 10,734. One type of paper that virtually all engineering and architect firms use and work with on a regular basis is blueprint paper. Blueprints are ideal for technical drawings involving specific measurements, but did you know that they've been in existence since the 1800s? Blueprints have a surprisingly fascinating history -- here are just a few interesting points about the history of blueprint paper.

    Alphonse Louis Poitevin

    Alphonse Louis Poitevin was a French chemist who first found that the ferro-gallate in acacia gum is sensitive to light exposure. From there, he discerned that light turns the gum into a shade of blue that's insoluble and permanent. This means that when coated onto paper or another bases, an image from a translucent document can be reproduced.

    Furthermore, the ferro-gallate is then coated on to another paper made from an aqueous solution and then dried. The coating is actually yellow, and in total darkness, it is considered to be 'stable' for a maximum period of three days. Then, the paper is secured underneath panels of glass in addition to a light transmitting document.

    The Cyanotype Process

    There are other processes for making blueprints that are carried out using photosensitive ferric compounds. One of the most well-known processes is called cyanotype. It uses ammonium ferric citrate and potassium ferricyanide to create a bright blue compound.

    "Using the cyanotype process, an architectural drawing was made on a semi-transparent paper, then weighted down on top of a sheet of paper or cloth that was coated with a photosensitive chemical mixture of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. In the final stages, the document was exposed to light. The exposed parts of the drawing (the background) became blue, while the drawing lines blocked the coated paper from exposure and remained white," writes PlanGrid.

    Ultimately, understanding how blueprints are made is an interesting and insightful look into how far the paper industry has come. For more information about 36 inch paper rolls or engineering bond paper in bulk, contact Get Paper.

  • Are Blueprints Really Blue? And Other Fun Facts

    Even though we know the purpose of a blueprint, does anyone really know why a blueprint is blue? It's not just because blue is a construction worker's favorite color. There's actually a lot more to it than you may think. Keep reading for a quick look into the coloring process behind blueprint paper.

    Back in 1842, an English chemist, photographer, an astronomer named John Herschel found that when you combine ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide, you get a chemical reaction and a compound which is referred to as blue ferric ferrocyanide. After the compound was discovered, it was used to reproduce documents in a way that is similar to developing a photograph from a negative.

    This process became known as cyanotype and quickly became popular among engineers and architects. The process begins by creating a drawing and transferring it over to a tracing cloth. A tracing cloth is extremely thin so it's easy to see through. Next, a piece of regular paper is saturated with an ammonium potassium mixture and is left to dry. Once dry, the tracing cloth is placed on top of the paper and is exposed to light. this then causes a chemical reaction to occur. In a few short minutes, the chemical-treated paper transforms into the blue ferric ferrocyanide.

    As the years went on, the process of creating the blueprint paper became simpler and more efficient than ever. So much so that today, blueprints aren’t typically even blue anymore! They’re usually either black or gray lines on top of a white background.

    While the color of bulk engineering paper may have changed over the years, it's still used in much the same way it was when it was first created. The paper is still beloved by contractors and architects. So much in fact, that most of today's architectural and engineering offices average 3,500 square feet per month of printing output. It's going to be hard for anyone in the field to ever forget that Prussian blue color that made such a huge impact on the way we create things.

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