Friday, April 24, 2009

Bygone Days – a History Lesson about “BLUEPRINTING”

My retired ex-partner, John Scher Zeller (JZ), whose grandfather founded Max Scher Blueprinting around 1922, wrote what you’ll read below in recent e-mail to one of our "younger" ex-associates who is younger than John and I. When John first started in the blueprinting business, his company was still doing ‘real’ blueprinting.

Okay, without further adieu, here’s what JZ wrote:

“OK - guys a quick “lesson”. A real blueprint machine did not use ammonia. The diazo process using ammonia to develop image came after the “actual blueprint” machine. The blueprint machine created blue prints – blue background with a white line. The diazo process was the opposite – white background with a blue line or black line. The actual blueprint machine was a wet process – the original was placed on a continuous roll of paper. Once the paper was exposed to the original it went through peroxide, then through potash, then through water rinse, then through a dryer similar to a car wash mechanism and went to a rear roll. Someone would cut the paper off the roll and then hand trim the prints. Specifications were run the same way and hand trimmed to 8.5 x 11.

We (Max Scher Blueprinting) had one customer who insisted on getting actual blueprints until around 1976-7 or thereabouts. We told that customer that it was no longer practical to keep the machine running for just them. They converted with no fuss and we had the job of somehow pulling out a big machine that had been in one spot since 1940 with all kinds of chemical residue stuck to that sucker. It took a while but we got it out. After that, I heard there were only 2 or 3 “real” blueprinting machines left, east of the Mississippi – one in NY and one somewhere in the mid-west.

Diazo (printing), which gets its name from diazominium salt, came after “real” blueprinting. The name of the Ozalid company and the “ozalid” process was formed by taking diazo and reversing it and adding an L to make a “word”.”

BlogAuthor's note: Can you imagine, nowadays, getting a hospital job that has 600 large-format drawings and 2,000 pages of specs for 40 sets and having to run that job using the "real" blueprinting process of bygone days? Wow, that would be a mess and a hassle. John, thank you for the article for the blog.

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