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What to Do with Your Old Blueprints

Paper-based blueprints are no longer standard features of the drafting process, as computer-aided design has allowed professionals use digital tools and platforms to get the job done. That said, blueprints on paper (or another material) haven’t entirely gone away, if only because so many companies still have old ones that they’ve held onto. These old blueprints will deteriorate if not properly maintained—and in some cases proper storage measures can cost considerable sums of money. So what should be done with these old materials? One important step is to arrange to have the designs transferred to digital files. Paper-to-CAD conversion is in fact one of the main services we provide at Q-CAD; the procedure involves manually redrawing—not scanning—the design into a digital file that, unlike paper, will not deteriorate over time. But this brings us back to the original question: What is to be done with the physical blueprints?

In a lot of cases, the blueprints have little value—especially if their design has been preserved by a CAD drawing service—and they can simply be recycled. Some people elect to give them away to a local historical society, which may find value in these old designs, or to an architectural student, who may find them worth studying. But for a number of reasons, many individuals in charge of finding a place for old blueprints need to hang on to these materials. If this is true for you, then it’s important to be familiar with the range of storage options available.

A common option is to opt for a rolled storage solution of some sort. As the name suggests, this involves rolling up the blueprints and then securing them permanently in that shape. You can purchase long, cylindrical tubes designed to hold rolled blueprints. If you have only a handful of prints to manage, then these tubes can provide a sufficient storage solution in themselves, as it’s easy to put them in a closet or a similar location. If you have to find space for a large number of blueprints, however, then you may wish to purchase a rack or cart that will hold them. There are a variety of racks on the market; some of these allow the user to insert each roll upright into its own space in a side-by-side configuration, while others allow the rolls to be slid horizontally into rows, in a layout similar to a collection of post office boxes.

Keep in mind, however, that rolled storage has its drawbacks. Blueprints stored in this way can be permanently warped by maintaining them in a rolled state. This can be a problem if you expect to refer to them in the future.

Another solution is to use hanging clamps to store the blueprints by attaching them to a rack, from which the prints dangle in flat, upright position. This method has the advantage of taking less space, and the blueprints are easier to access because they do not need to be unrolled. On the downside, this solution is also relatively pricey and may not be an appropriate option for long-term storage.

Flat storage provides yet another option. This involves storing the blueprints flat and face up inside the sliding drawers of a special cabinet. High-quality flat storage cabinets tend to be heavy, durable, and expensive; this option is suitable chiefly for organizations that wish to keep their prints for years in an environment where these materials do not need to be accessed often.

Whatever storage solution you select, remember that it’s best to have your blueprint designs transferred to CAD files. Contact us today so we can help you.

Image courtesy of phasinphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net