Posted Sun, Feb 19, 2012 by Space Junkie
Blueprints are the lifeblood of industry in EVE Online. With them, EVE players can build ships, modules, and ammunition to use or sell. Without them, players are stuck buying things off the market. This EVE guide explains the basics of how blueprints work in EVE Online.
How EVE Online Blueprints Work
EVE Online blueprints are like recipes in most other MMOs. At their simplest, they allow you to transform raw ingredients into finished items that can be used by pilots. "Take some metal, and turn it into a sword." Except in space and with lasers. More complicated blueprints sometimes involve intermediate processes, or draw their ingredients from multiple industrial areas of EVE Online. Like the recipes found in many other MMOs, blueprints can be exchanged with other players or sold for a profit.
Though the basic qualities of blueprints in EVE Online are shared in common with many other MMOs, though there are some unusual particulars. For example, most blueprints begin their existence as inefficient recipes that consume more materials and time than would be profitable. Players must performing research on these to improve both their material efficiency and production time efficiency so that they will consume less ingredients and time, respectively. This research improves their value and makes them more worthwhile to use. Another interesting feature of EVE Online blueprints is that you can make copies of your blueprints that only permit a finite number of uses. These blueprint copies reflect any research that you have invested in your original blueprint, and may be used, sold, or given away as much as you like, allowing you to profit from copying blueprints even if you aren't using them to actively build things.
The Birth Of A Blueprint Original
Most blueprint originals in EVE Online are sold by NPCs on the market in various high-sec space stations. There is an unlimited supply, and the blueprints produced have material and production time efficiency of 0. For many items, including tech II items, there are no blueprint originals. Blueprint copies with a finite number of runs for these items are obtained variously as NPC drops, from mission loyalty point stores, or via invention (see below). For some items, there exists blueprint originals sold by NPC, but they are sold in obscure or difficult to reach locations. For example, the blueprint originals for the Noctis salvaging vessel all originally come from four stations located in Outer Ring, a null-sec region of space. Fortunately for those looking to invest, these blueprints are often resold in Jita with a (usually acceptable) markup tacked on.
Selling EVE Blueprint Copies
There is an entire industry of creating blueprint copies for sale. It's a humongous market, and ranges from simple modules and ammunition to humongous supercapital blueprints that require literally months to copy. The former are often sold in huge batches, while just a single specimen of the latter can be worth billions of EVE ISK. Making copies is not an activity for the dilettantes: though anybody can copy blueprints in various stations in high-security space, the wait to use a copy slot is often so long that one may as well not bother. However, there are workarounds: either take your blueprint originals out of high-security space, to a station in low-sec or null-sec, or set up a starbase with mobile laboratories. The former is only a good idea with low-value blueprints or for players that really know what they are doing, while the latter is only possible after a long EVE mission grind (or having a good friend that has the same).
For more about copying blueprints and selling them, see this guide.