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Thread: Reading Blueprints and Drawings

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    con771 is offline Plastic
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    Default Reading Blueprints and Drawings

    where is a good place online to learn how to read blueprints and drawings for machining custom parts?

    I have someone who is interested in learning the basics of reading blueprints and drawings so they can understand prospective jobs. Then they will be able to tell possible customers if we can do the jobs or not. This way we can have someone in the front office dealing with walk-ins and they don't have to worry about running it past a machinest each time. (for basic jobs anyway)

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    David Utidjian's Avatar
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    That does not sound like a very good idea. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of threads on this board about problems with "managers" accepting drawings and making bids from drawings that are way out of line with what the machinists can do within budget once that drawing reaches the shop.

    If your front office person knows little to nothing about design, technical drawings, and how that translates to actually making the parts you will have some very frustrated customers and machinists.

    If you can't understand why it is not a good idea, try this analogy:

    You go into a restaurant to order some food. There is no menu and no daily specials board or anything. Your waiter knows how to read and write but knows nothing about cooking, nothing about ingredients, and nothing about how much time it takes to prepare food. What are the odds that you will get a tasty, timely well prepared meal at a fair price that will also be profitable to the restaurant? And this is assuming that your waiter already knows how to read a recipe.

    There is something to the argument that the most experienced and competent person in your organization is the one that should be dealing with customers and determining costs, prices, and makeability of a design or drawing.

    -DU-

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    Clive603 is offline Titanium
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    David makes a good point however this is a classic case of the delegation dilemma "If the boss can type 3 times as fast as his secretary why doesn't he do his own typing?".

    As I read it the idea is to have some-one in the front office able to screen walk-in jobs so that the tech guys time isn't wasted evaluating something you can't either practically or economically do. For walk-ins its also good PR to be able to give a quick triage assessment of the job on the lines of:-

    1) "We'd love to do the job for you but I'm sorry we can't handle this .... (part, tolerance, material, process or whatever) .... You might like to try .... who do more of that sort of thing. Here's our brochure which tells you what sort of work we can do .... (this is the special walk-in one emphasising the jobs you can turn round quick and easy with minimal overhead, noting the stuff that needs more input so costing more and pointing out that you can provide engineering assistance in modifying things to make them easy to do at "very reasonable rates").

    2) "Yes, that's looks to be exactly the sort of work we do. We'll get a quote for you in .... days."

    3) "Mmmn. This isn't quite as simple as it looks and may be expensive. Best to discuss this with Mr ....., I'll see if he is free now or would you like to make an appointment."

    4) "Oh dear, I don't think this can be made. Perhaps there is an error on the drawing. We do offer a consultancy service to help you sort this sort of thing out. Our engineers always say that its pretty much impossible to spot errors in your own drawings."

    Hafta remember that most walk-in jobs are relatively small and low value so the profit upside isn't great and neither is the loss if a few walk away again. However if you have downtime any work is better than none, at worst even uneconomic jobs reduce the loss. Important thing is not to let "cut the loss and low margin jobs" crowd out real paying work.

    You need to give your part trained front office person good guidelines over what to look for in acceptable / maybe / non-acceptable work and, ideally have a shop policy on how much walk-in stuff you can accept. A good position would be if you can make your basic nut on around 2/3 rd utilisation which gives you some wiggle room to take a chance on jobs. Sometimes walk-ins lead to great things or at least a nice trickle of easy stuff.

    Surprisingly perhaps the right person with limited knowledge is often better at this sort of thing than trained engineers. If you really know your stuff its easy to inadvertently fill in the gaps in a naive presentation. Especially if you can't afford the time for more than a quick look. If you pick the right person don't be surprised if they develop to the point where they can teach the trained guys a thing or two!

    Clive

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    con771 is offline Plastic
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    I appriciate the responses however the first question still remains.
    where is a good place online to learn how to read blueprints and drawings for machining custom parts?

    Any ideas?

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    HuFlungDung is offline Diamond
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    Nobody is going to really grasp all the basics without hands on experience. If you can draw 'em, you can read 'em.

    Begin with the basics and take some kind of a CAD course, Autocad or something. Draw some simple objects. Dimension them as if you had to make them. Take your noob drawing to the machinist and ask him if the drawing is ok. Go back and make the changes he said. Do another one. Get the machinist to evaluate it. When he stops scratching himself every time he looks at your blueprint, maybe you're getting close to competent
    Danthemann likes this.

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    Sander's Avatar
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    I took a class. Read a book. Then I started sketching stuff. I'd take it to a machinist. When I got to the point where the machinist could make make the part without him asking... I considered myself passable with prints.

    Same with sheet-metal. When the mechanic could produce a part from a blank I had drawn I considered myself "mostly there" sheet-metal-wise. Still a bit dodgy with with the calculations but it's a constant learning thing.

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    Pattnmaker is offline Hot Rolled
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    I just dug out an old book I got during first year of my apprenticeship. Blueprint Drawings for Industry by Walter C Brown. Isbn 0-87006-737-0 It is a write in workbook. Some of it is a little dated some chapters will not be applicable or important for what you want them to do. But overall if the person reads the book and does all the applicable exersises in the book, they should be able to read basic drawings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by con771 View Post
    I appriciate the responses however the first question still remains.
    As a community of experienced individuals, we feel obliged to point out potential problems when someone asks a question.

    Sometimes the OP is too dense to understand the answer.

    - Leigh

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    AndyF is offline Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by con771 View Post
    where is a good place online to learn how to read blueprints and drawings for machining custom parts?

    I have someone who is interested in learning the basics of reading blueprints and drawings so they can understand prospective jobs. Then they will be able to tell possible customers if we can do the jobs or not. This way we can have someone in the front office dealing with walk-ins and they don't have to worry about running it past a machinest each time. (for basic jobs anyway)
    I can't help with an online course, but one thing you may want to consider is developing a checklist that your person can use in making a first pass through the drawings to determine whether it is worth passing on the drawing to someone for further review. The checklist would reference your shop capabilities like min and max sizes of pieces, tolerances you can work to, materials you work with, etc... .

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    con771 is offline Plastic
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    Quote Originally Posted by The real Leigh View Post
    Sometimes the OP is too dense to understand the answer.

    - Leigh
    I figured there would be at least one useless reply to my question. As expected here it is (above).

    I really wish people like this would refrain from using this forum unless they have something constructive to add. You really dilute the value of the information on here when comments like this are made. As a result, you degrade the integrity of the forum and the rest of its users.

    To everyone else who posted, Thanks for the worthwhile info and advice. It has been very helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by con771 View Post
    I really wish people like this would refrain from using this forum unless they have something constructive to add. You really dilute the value of the information on here when comments like this are made. As a result, you degrade the integrity of the forum and the rest of its users.
    Would you care to enumerate your constructive additions to this forum?

    - Leigh

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    Sander's Avatar
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    Cool it you two.

    Wouldn't want to dilute the value of the information in this forum with pointless bickering now would we?

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    KilrB is offline Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by con771 View Post
    I figured there would be at least one useless reply to my question. As expected here it is (above).

    I really wish people like this would refrain from using this forum unless they have something constructive to add. You really dilute the value of the information on here when comments like this are made. As a result, you degrade the integrity of the forum and the rest of its users.

    To everyone else who posted, Thanks for the worthwhile info and advice. It has been very helpful.
    I beg to differ with you.

    You did "forget" to quote the most important part of Leigh's reply.

    And I quote ...

    "As a community of experienced individuals, we feel obliged to point out potential problems when someone asks a question."

    You came here asking for answers.

    Just because you didn't get the answers you wanted, or they may have been a trifle brusque, does not make them any less valid or valuable.

    That you ask means you have something to learn.

    It needs to mean too that you are willing to learn, else your asking is pointless.

    As far as learning to read blueprints online goes you are most likely going to have to look at online college courses, and it doesn't sound like that is what you are looking for.

    I doubt there are any free courses being offered on or off-line.
    Last edited by KilrB; 07-08-2009 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Not wordy enough.

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    smallshop's Avatar
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    I suppose con771 should have prefaced his question with some disclaimers to let folks know his mind is already made up as to what he is doing. I understand that he is trying to insulate his skilled people from getting caught in the walk-in-sinkhole. For me walk-ins always have the "sketchiest" prints and feel the need to clarify the most....along with sucking a bit of free design time out of you. While I don't think his approach that feasible, I would train the office help on prints they have in house. They already have 100% hindsight.......

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    rj newbould's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by con771 View Post
    I figured there would be at least one useless reply to my question. As expected here it is (above).

    I really wish people like this would refrain from using this forum unless they have something constructive to add. You really dilute the value of the information on here when comments like this are made. As a result, you degrade the integrity of the forum and the rest of its users.

    To everyone else who posted, Thanks for the worthwhile info and advice. It has been very helpful.
    Actually, this forum is not the best place for your question. I did a quick Google search on "Blueprint reading" and came up with far more info than can be placed in here.

    You do know about Google, don't you?

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    KilrB is offline Stainless
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    I did "google" it and, as I suspected, everyone wants to get paid for teaching you to read blueprints.

    Go figure ...

    It sounds like con771 and/or friend are willing to invest the time, but not the money.

    I cannot entirely fault them for that, but it just isn't feasible.

    Con, you and/or your friend need to invest in some good books on the subject.

    Look in the MSC catalog, there are several in there.

    It is a good investment, and you will always have a reference at hand instead of having to go online constantly to clarify something.

    Besides, putting your money into something should always give you the incentive to do better at it.

    Speaking from long experience I can tell you that it takes a long time to train someone without the shop experience to the point they don't have to consult you on everything they look at.

    AndyF's idea is the place to start.
    Last edited by KilrB; 07-08-2009 at 11:28 AM. Reason: Not wordy enough.

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    Clive603 is offline Titanium
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    There is a ton of info out there on blueprint reading and the like. Biggest problem is finding stuff that's appropriate for someone like the original poster who needs to get someone up to speed sufficiently to screen walk-in work. I found a few that seemed appropriate and have passed them on via YouSendIt. Download files will be live for the next few days so PM me if anyone else has a similar interest or wants some getting started reading.

    Can't see anything wrong with asking the question here. I'd have thought that there was a reasonable chance that someone else here may have had a similar problem and found a sensible answer. Alternatively some-one may have run through a training course and be able to say yea or nay as to how suitable it might be. In these internet days a big hidden cost is screening what you actually want from the dross, not quite rights and simply wrong for me stuff that turns up.

    Clive

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sander View Post
    Wouldn't want to dilute the value of the information in this forum with pointless bickering now would we?
    I agree completely

    However, pointed bickering can be educational.

    It distills the value of the information into the essence of nonsense.

    - Leigh

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    Default A possible solution...

    As much as I hate to make a relevant response, consider the following option...

    Hire a retired machinist to come in a couple of days a week and screen your solicitations.

    You get the benefit of his knowledge and experience at a very low price.

    - Leigh

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    Sander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The real Leigh View Post
    I agree completely

    However, pointed bickering can be educational.

    It distills the value of the information into the essence of nonsense.

    - Leigh
    Yeah I know, one of the reasons I love forums like this.. you never know what will "explode" into a vigorous discussion.

    On the other hand I'm trying my hand at this "nicey-nice" and "diplomacy" stuff I've heard about. Sorry won't let it happen again. Sod off and choke on the sun-shine ol' bean.

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