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Thread: Engineering Drawings Standard for Black and White or Color?

  1. #1

    Engineering Drawings Standard for Black and White or Color?

    Is there a standard that says engineering drawings should be Black and White? Our company just made the decision to output our PDF's in color. There is a large potential for items to be overlooked that are shown in light colors and printed on a b/w plotter.

  2. #2
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Welcome to Engineers Edge.

    There is not a standard that am aware of that limits the use of color on engineer drawings.

    In fact, I have seen organizations that utilize different colors to indicate hole size tolerances vs. location tolerances.
    Last edited by Kelly Bramble; 12-10-2013 at 05:15 PM. Reason: spelling

  3. #3
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
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    Here's one drawback - out of five people in this engineering department, two are color blind! And they both make drawings all day long. One made it all the way through high school and didn't find out he was color blind until he tried to join the Air Force. I think the actual percentage is something like 8% or 9% of the population.

    Not even considering that, I am strongly against that decision for many reasons, but they all get back to one bottom line: confused communication, and all the bad, probably even dangerous things that result from it.

    For one thing, you know they won't stay in color. Somebody will make "regular" copies for a contractor, or vendor, or customer, or inspector or whoever. Some people will see those light colored lines and notes (assuming white paper), and some will miss them.

    Another reason - color is confusing in a technical drawing. I think this very fact may be at the heart of this misguided management decision. Color (especially in 3D) is a WONDERFUL enhancement to presentations to management or customers. It increases their understanding of the concept being presented. It helps the presenter "sell" his idea and creates supporters. A key point here is that these people do not have to have a deep enough understanding that they could build the device. They just have to understand it well enough to have confidence that it CAN be done and that it will work. They don't have to DO it themselves.

    After that step, drawings begin to serve a different purpose. They have to accurately, clearly, and completely communicate all the information required for a techician to fabricate or make the device in question. Any excess, any distraction, any over-complication inhibits that process. In this level of detail, color just confuses the eye, and the brain. Its the same with 3D. Wonderful for presentations, but a completely inadequate tool for detailed construction. Even the most impressive 3D models eventually are reduced to simple 2D prints on paper (or a screen) for fabrication.

    I'm sure that management "knows better" though. Just remember you heard it here first. They will regret and change this decision after they see all the havoc it causes.

  4. #4
    Associate Engineer
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    Hi,

    As mentioned its all the client/company's preference. But one good tip is to remember if the document has any chance of going to site or the manufacturing floor, make sure when using colour formatting, that the underlining linetypes should be such that they should still be identifiable when photocopied. Example the blue line is also solid and thickness 1, but the blue line is dashed and thickness 4.

  5. #5
    Associate Engineer
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    Quote Originally Posted by jboggs View Post
    Here's one drawback - out of five people in this engineering department, two are color blind! And they both make drawings all day long. One made it all the way through high school and didn't find out he was color blind until he tried to join the Air Force. I think the actual percentage is something like 8% or 9% of the population.

    Not even considering that, I am strongly against that decision for many reasons, but they all get back to one bottom line: confused communication, and all the bad, probably even dangerous things that result from it.

    For one thing, you know they won't stay in color. Somebody will make "regular" copies for a contractor, or vendor, or customer, or inspector or whoever. Some people will see those light colored lines and notes (assuming white paper), and some will miss them.

    Another reason - color is confusing in a technical drawing. I think this very fact may be at the heart of this misguided management decision. Color (especially in 3D) is a WONDERFUL enhancement to presentations to management or customers. It increases their understanding of the concept being presented. It helps the presenter "sell" his idea and creates supporters. A key point here is that these people do not have to have a deep enough understanding that they could build the device. They just have to understand it well enough to have confidence that it CAN be done and that it will work. They don't have to DO it themselves.

    After that step, drawings begin to serve a different purpose. They have to accurately, clearly, and completely communicate all the information required for a techician to fabricate or make the device in question. Any excess, any distraction, any over-complication inhibits that process. In this level of detail, color just confuses the eye, and the brain. Its the same with 3D. Wonderful for presentations, but a completely inadequate tool for detailed construction. Even the most impressive 3D models eventually are reduced to simple 2D prints on paper (or a screen) for fabrication.

    I'm sure that management "knows better" though. Just remember you heard it here first. They will regret and change this decision after they see all the havoc it causes.
    Dear All,
    This is my first post in this forum.
    I do fully agree with jboggs.

    fourmdev

  6. #6
    Senior Engineer
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    Thanks for the above ideas. This is perfect information.

  7. #7
    Associate Engineer
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    Hi. ...I have read comments above and I have to say: Do not blame the colour outputs for any failure!
    There are techniques how to calibrate your CAD outputs with the printers using the right colour profile and driver and there is technique how to express any colours to the colour profile acceptable also for colour blind people or exported in light colours.
    It is a Graphic Design discipline, but it is applicable in Mechanical/Electrical Design as well.
    I have some vintage, nicely coloured technical drawings framed ...and they are absolutely beautiful. The reason why we had period of strictly B&W technical drawings was simply based on limited reprography options (blueprints from tracing papers etc...)

  8. #8
    Lead Engineer Cake of Doom's Avatar
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    I tend to use colour for the tender packs so the client has something nice and pretty to look at but once these get stripped back to become working drawings, I go back to black on white. The lads on site find it easier to work from because they're not looking at solid blocks of green all day and trying to differentiate between all the different parts of the structure.

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