Proper storage is key to ensuring your engineering documents, drawings, blueprints and paper plans remain intact and usable over long periods of time. Engineering paper is often used for technical documents, schematics and blueprints that need to remain clear and readable for years or even decades. Subjecting these important papers to improper storage conditions can cause damage over time through folding, creasing, staining or deterioration.
One of the best practices is to store engineering paper flat whenever possible to avoid creasing or folding marks that could damage the paper or obscure important details on technical drawings or schematics. Fold lines develop more easily on paper that is folded or rolled for storage. Instead, engineering drawings, schematics and blueprints should be stored individually between rigid pH neutral paper board sheets or flat file folders for protection. This keeps them flat and helps prevent accidental creasing, dents or other damage from the weight of stacked papers.
For long term archival of original engineering documents, it is recommended to store prints and drawings in individual pH neutral polypropylene sheet protectors for added protection against accidental abrasion or smudging. Look for sheet protectors designed for archival use that are made of polypropylene which will not become brittle or break down over time like PVC sheet protectors can. These thin, tough non-abrasive protectors help prevent scratches and abrasions to the paper surface while keeping documents flat and organized.
Proper identification and labeling is also important when storing engineering paper archives. Original documents, especially those with construction details or that govern physical infrastructure and equipment, should always be clearly identified with project names, identifiers and dates so they can be easily located when needed even decades later. A consistent filing and labeling system helps prevent valuable papers from being misplaced or lost over time.
Controlling the environmental storage conditions for engineering documents helps prolong their usable lifespan as well. Paper documents like schematics and blueprints will deteriorate more quickly if exposed to excessive heat, humidity fluctuations or moisture. For long term storage, aim to keep papers in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight, which can cause fading over decades. Temperature should be below 75°F and relative humidity below 50% for archive storage. This slows chemical degradation processes in the paper fibers that lead to embrittlement and yellowing.
Safety from fire, floods and other potential natural disasters should also be considered. Storing original engineering documents onsite in the lower levels of buildings or on shelving against exterior walls poses higher risks. For truly invaluable long term paper archives, consider storing duplicates offsite with a secure records storage company. This provides a duplicate failsafe copy and protects against total loss from onsite disasters like fires or floods that could destroy one-of-a-kind original documents. Proper disasters preparedness planning is important for safeguarding engineering paper assets.
Proper handling is another aspect of caring for engineering paper. Wearing clean cotton gloves when handling drawings, schematics or paper documents helps avoid skin oils that can transfer to paper over time and accelerate deterioration. Do not mark up or make notes directly on original historic documents; always make copies for reference instead to avoid risk of damage. Taking basic precautions in storage, organization, environment, housing materials and handling helps protect valuable engineering documents and ensures reliable access to their information well into the future. Let me know if any part of these storage tips needs further explanation or if you have additional archival storage questions!