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  • Writer's pictureDon Wolter

The blueprints

Updated: Mar 1, 2018

How does a building go from a designer’s imagination to a three-dimensional reality? How does a complicated structure with so many parts, materials and workers come together?

In today’s construction industry, before anything is built, it’s dreamed, drawn and planned in the form of blueprints. These documents are truly the foundation of any construction project

Ever wondered where the “blue” came from in blueprints? These documents actually obtained their trademark blue in 1842 when John Herschel discovered the cyanotype process. Artists and scientists quickly adopted this new way to reproduce notes, efficiently and at a lower cost than previous methods available. Preserving the silhouette of leaves, ferns and other botanical samples were easier than ever.

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.

Today, the blueprint is computer drawn and digitally based. Although the construction industry is still widely paper-based, this is changing quickly. Now, with cloud-based document control solutions, digital drawing files are distributed instantaneously from office to the field.

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