How to Read Machine Blueprints

By Patricia Smith Michaels

Reading blueprints requires great attention to detail along with a technical aptitude. Machine blueprints are those blueprints that refer to the inner workings of machines, their parts and mechanisms. Engineers, designers and technicians use blueprints in their daily jobs and are used to the myriad of symbols and drawing patterns. Learning to read blueprints can be accomplished by anyone who has the technical aptitude, patience and perseverance for interpreting technical drawings.

Step 1

Obtain a basic book on reading blueprints for manufacturing. Look for books that are easy to read and contain reference pullouts or cards for machine blueprints symbols. Pullouts act as easy reference to place on top of the blueprint.

Step 2

Take a basic course on tool and dye, machinery, manufacturing or design. Check the mechanical engineering, automotive and manufacturing design departments of the local community college or trade school for courses. Also look for courses online from technical schools such as DeVry Institute, University of Phoenix or ITT-Tech.

Step 3

Ask a professional machinist to give you tips on how to read machine blueprints. Obtain the contact information for a machine shop in the yellow pages and speak with a worker or owner. Be polite and explain what the blueprints are for and that you have a few questions.

Step 4

Get a magazine on machines, their design and repair. Magazines such as Modern Machine Shop and American Machinist have articles on working with various types of machines as well as sample blueprints.