2. Ship blueprints (you are here)
3. Component blueprints
4. Researching your blueprints
5. Moving capital blueprints safely
7. Location, location, location
8. Moving minerals
9. Actually building stuff, finally
10. Selling your ships
To build capital ships, you will need two types of blueprints: Component blueprints, which are used to turn minerals into capital ship components, and ship blueprints, which are used to turn components into ships. This post is about ship blueprints. Does that seem backwards to you? Tough.
When to get ship blueprints:
When you're looking to start up capital ship manufacturing, you should start looking for ship blueprints early. If you're contemplating it in a serious way at all, right now would be a good time to start.
Capital ship blueprints take a very long time to research (6-15 months) compared to component blueprints (3 months). Although it is more than possible to build on a poorly researched blueprint and make huge profits, that would not be very bosslike.
Ship blueprints on average cost more than component blueprints, but you'll be buying many more component than ship blueprints. Thus, if you don't have the isk on hand for all the blueprints you need, you can research your ship blueprints while earning for the component prints.
How many ship blueprints to get:
How many blueprints you can build on at once depends on how many manufacturing slots you have. As an extremely general rule, you can get away with three ship blueprints for each character with 10 manufacturing slots. Maybe 4 if they're all carriers.
How to get ship blueprints:
Researching ship blueprints from nothing takes a very long time, so I strongly recommend getting researched blueprints from contracts or the sell orders forum. DO NOT just jump at the first thing you see, though -- patience pays off. If you watch long enough, sooner or later somebody will come along with a well researched blueprint for a reasonable price.
Which ship blueprints to get
This is exactly the sort of thing you need to to determine for yourself, but there are a few notes that I should make:
Carriers are decent entry-level ships to build. They require half as many minerals as other capitals, their blueprints are cheap, they sell quickly, and they almost always have solid margins. You will, however, make less per hull sold than rorquals or dreads.
-The archon is the best carrier to build. It sells quickly, and always has wide margins.
-The nidhoggur also frequently has wide margins, but it sells the most slowly of all the carriers.
-The thanatos is the most popular carrier, but is also built by the most people. The margins can be depressing at times.
-The chimera is the best looking carrier, but it has below average margins.
Rorquals are a little harder than carriers to build, requiring twice the minerals and two additional component blueprints, but they sell quickly and almost always have good margins. Sometimes somebody will dump a bunch of them on the market in Akora in forge, driving the price down, but I've learned to hold them when this happens and wait for the price to increase.
Dreads are a bit peculiar:
-The moros is probably the best dread to build. It sells quickly and always has wide margins.
-Next is the revelation. It may actually be more popular, but more people build them and occasionally the market will get swamped.
-The naglfar, while clearly the most awesome dread, has by far the lowest sale volume of any capital ship. On the other hand, very few people build them, either. As long as you don't mind waiting a while for them to sell, the margins are usually good.
-The phoenix is a shitty dread, but enough people fly caldari that they do sell. However, historically it has been common for the market price to sit right at mineral price. A phoenix blueprint is a very questionable investment.
Where to get blueprints:
Note that rorqual blueprints are a very special case, in that they are only seeded in nullsec, in ORE stations in outer ring. NPC price is EDIT: 2.94 billion, and you probably will not find them for that price in jita. I'll leave it up to you how to solve this problem.
What material level should you research your ship blueprints to?
Highlighted in green is the material level I recommend. Pink is the optimal material level, if different. This chart is from a few months ago; at the time of writing the ME0 price and ME savings are about 75% higher.
You may notice some inconsistencies in there. There are reasons for these, and I don't feel like explaining them. You're a big boy and/or girl and you can make your own determinations about material level.
You may also wish to note that although high ME is awesome, if you end up with researched components while your ships aren't quite there yet it may be better to go into production early. A couple of million isk is a very small portion of the profits you'll make each run.
Production efficiency research
PE1 cuts carrier and dread manufacturing time from 11 days 20.4 hours to 10 days 16 hours, or 11%. 11% faster building means 11% more profit over time, so get all your prints to at least PE1.
In the meantime...
If you end up with well researched ship blueprints before your component blueprints are ready, make copies and sell them in jita.
Go to part 3: Component blueprints