Blueprint machine. I need one.

Does anyone have access to an old blueprint machine AND paper?  An artist friend wants to makes some real blueprint drawings.  None of the local print shops even has a machine, and the paper is hard to find online even!  We could send you drawings to develop in your firm, for a fee of course, if you have one in the basement...

Sep 14, 11 1:22 pm

You might want to check with high schools in your area.  If they had an Architecture elective at any point they probably have one of these somewhere.

Sep 14, 11 1:55 pm
"The Co-op Guy"

you could make a cyanotype.. is this for artistic intent or to use as construction docs? if its artistic i really like cyanotypes, but it probably wouldn't really work for the documentation side..

Sep 14, 11 2:22 pm

wow, barely even noticed that i haven't seen a blueprint machine in an office for at least 10 years.  does anyone still have a machine that works even?

Sep 14, 11 5:12 pm

I know these guys had it...10 years ago. I have a feeling they may have kept one somewhere.

Sep 14, 11 5:31 pm

ahhhh the smell!!!!...just reading this post is making my eyes water.

Sep 14, 11 6:29 pm

Make a negative and then run a blueline.


Sep 14, 11 6:46 pm

I know my community college had one just a few years ago...check with local colleges, they probably have one sitting around


Sep 14, 11 7:06 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.  miesian, your link led me to the paper, which is a great start.  If I can find some strong ammonia, some light, and a dark space, I can make a blueprint!

These are for artistic purposes only.  I'll share a story here I've shared many times: when I was at Cranbrook in 92, and Susanna Torre came to visit, we hosted her for dinner in the architecture department where we had a huge wood communal table.  We laid unexposed blueprint paper on the table (yellow side up), covered it with white paper as a tablecloth, set the table with plates, utensils and serving dishes, and ate our meal.  Then we developed the blueprint paper the next day (in a sonotube with a bowl of ammonia) and had the most gorgeous record of the meal - we were heavy into Krauss' indexical signs at that point in Cranbrook's history.


Sep 14, 11 8:23 pm


I worked with a guy who was from the Mideast and they used to take originals and ozolid paper to the roof top and put them under glass the paper on the bottom and the original on top and let the sun blast away at them and then take them inside and develop them with ammonia in a tube with the ends plugged. 


I do have an old blue print machine in my basement....I haven't run it for years but I imagine it still works.. I could most likely  come up with some paper is your serious.

 Just let me know.

Sep 14, 11 9:14 pm

Wow!  snook I sent the artist miesian's link for the paper - if she gets the paper and we can expose it similarly to your rooftop system (at Cranbrook we used photography lights - Tota lights) we just may try sending it to you to develop!  Don't bother checking to see if the machine works yet - but I'll let you know if that seems like our best option!

Sep 14, 11 9:18 pm


I also had the opportunity years ago to tour Olmsted's Office. The Original Olmsted Office and they did have an exposure system which was very similar.  The ammonina will have to have a very high concentration.....and well  it is best placed in some sort of  cotton  in a shallow  lid so it is absorbed into the cotton.  The  developing material is against  a tube, with the ammonia sensitive surface to the vapors. I recall they had glass tubes in the Olmsted office.  I recall after going on the tour of the Olmsted Office, coming back to the office and telling the story to the guy in our office and that is when he told me about his experience in Haffia  (sp).  Wishing your friend best of Luck! 

Sep 14, 11 10:55 pm

I have an old 452 BLU-RAY that the last time I used it it worked but I do not have any paper but I still have 4 bottles of used ammonia and one bottle of new? dated 1996. I am looking to donate it to the Smithsonian Institute (LOL) or to anybody that want it. It is located in Clarkston, MI.

Jan 8, 20 3:16 pm

I honestly wonder how many bottles of used ammonia are sitting around on the floor in architecture firm offices? What a hazardous waste nightmare LOL!


Ammonia isn't too big of a hazmat situation. You just need to dilute it by SLOWLY adding ammonia to 10 times more water to dilute it, and then it can safely be poured down a drain. Just don't add the ammonia to water all at once: that will cause a violent reaction and toxic gas cloud.  I hope architecture firms aren't keeping too many ancient bottles of ammonia sitting around.


Technically, you don't need a blueprint machine per se. You can basically build a light table but use UV LED strips (UV-A spectrum) for the Exposure cycle for either cyanotype or diazotype process. The difference is in the developing cycle and ultimately the outcome. You maybe able to find paper already pre-coated for diazotype. 

In cyanotype process you have to coat the paper with cyanotype photo emulsion before the Exposure cycle. After you done the exposure cycle, with cyanotype, you do the development process using water bath method. The first wash bin may have a cap full or two of hydrogen peroxide and this will help speed up the development cycle so you see the outcome sooner. This may take a couple minutes to do in a gentle wash. Then you wash in a second bin with water only. 

In the diazo process, you don't use water. You use ammonia. You can use regular ammonia from the stores and spray the exposed paper with a good coating of ammonia. The paper would be a little damp. The blueline machine is drier because it uses heating element and a much higher concentration of ammonia and the development would be faster. HOWEVER, you can use household ammonia without using any heating method and just let it do its job because the ammonia would still do the developing as the ammonia evaporates at room temperature just like Windex (which you could use because it is ammonia with maybe a fragrance added). It just takes longer but no fancy machine is required. It may take some trial and error and adjusting the timing you need. 

In EITHER processes, do this in a room without direct sunlight. The only step you may use direct sunlight is the Exposure cycle but having a light table like device for generating UV light for exposure cycle simply means you won't need to depend on the sun and can have a consistent exposure time. That is the most advance thing you need but you could use the sun and a window or picture frame type apparatus.

If you are creative and have material on hand and a sheet of acrylic or glass, you can basically make a UV exposure box which is basically how you make a light box or light table. 

Jan 8, 20 3:43 pm

Mmmm ... brains...

Jan 8, 20 3:58 pm
Non Sequitur

leave some for the rest of us.


I didn't see any Blueprint machine this day now. Its hard to find one.

Jan 12, 20 8:54 am
Non Sequitur

They are making a come back now with all those hipster artisanal design offices.

There are diazo machines on ebay.

Paper available here:

Jan 12, 20 10:10 am

try you local high schools

Jan 12, 20 11:33 am

If anyone is seriously interested... I have one, E-sized including the filterbox and a couple stacks of diazo paper in 24x36 and 18x24 and willing to part with it.  In Denver.  Also a variety of other old architectural tech equipment...   Need to clear it out by the end of 2020 when I turn over my historic office building to the City.

Jan 13, 20 3:30 pm
atelier nobody

No interest in a diazo machine, but I might be interested in some of your other stuff, if you post a list.


Normal crap; flat files, 2, 3, and 4 drawer filing cabinets.


Oh, and weirder crap: Stacks of Calcomp digitizers, couple of old plotters, a Kroy machine, wire binder punch machine, typewriter, fax/copier, blah blah. Think 90's architects office stuff. Oh, and eventually, tables various sizes, antiques, some office chairs, coffee makers, microwave, wall art (dated mostly), and misc interior stuff like that down to xmas lights and tree.

We’re using Waterlogue and Photoshop to make CAD drawings look like hand drawings printed on brown line diazo.  Progress!

Jan 13, 20 11:56 pm

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