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Old 04-13-2003, 11:13 AM
Richard T Eger Richard T Eger is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Seaford, DE, U.S.A.
Posts: 23,700

I, too, have wanted to copy blueprints at NARA II in College Park, Maryland. There are 2 services offered for the purpose.

First, if the drawing is 30 inches across or less, there is a large copier that will handle these up on the cartography floor. The price, I found, was quite reasonable, considering the size. For a 30" by 40" drawing, it may have run around $10, give or take, as my memory is a bit rusty.

Second, if the drawing is over 30" wide, then it can get very expensive. NARA will direct you to commercial services available on the facility. I didn't know that they were located there, so handled my request over the phone after leaving a sheet with the print to help the staff know exactly which blueprint I wanted copied. NARA call-outs get you to the specific box the blueprint may be in, but that is as far as it goes.

I found offers of using a copy camera or a huge digital copying machine. As Scott Fraser has pointed out, using a camera to try to copy blueprints can create distortion. So, I opted for the digital copying machine. Cost, though, is out of sight. A 1:1 reproduction of a drawing say about 40" x 50" will set you back maybe $150. I opted to go half scale, which brought it down to about $50, still very, very expensive. While I got all of the information on the blueprint, the result was not particularly great, as the copy folks left wrinkles in the drawing (it had come to them folded) and the background was gray rather than white and the drawing lacked good contrast. But, at least I had a copy.

The other reason I tend to avoid the use of a film camera process in copying line drawings is that frequently the subsequent print will show line bleeding, as opposed to the sharp lines that you get with a typical electrostatic copying machine.

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