I decide not to throw myself in to industry and manufacturing without some instruction from people who know better. There will still be much I need to learn myself and I see no point in hampering my early efforts through mistakes that could be avoided with a little research. To that end, a quick search reveals an interesting introduction to science and industry in EVE Online, written by GC13. Just about every term that I probably need to know about is defined and explained in the guide and it looks to be an excellent initial resource. I have seen the abbreviations 'BPO', 'BPC', 'ME' and others bandied around before and now I not only know what they mean but I can understand their significance.
Deafplasma gives a good suggestion to start some material efficiency (ME) research whilst my skills are still training and to do that I will first need a blueprint. I was wondering where to get my grubby mits on some blueprint originals (BPO), thinking that they might be mission rewards or bought from NPC corporate stores with loyalty points. Of course, I could have just paid more attention to the guide I link to above, which explains how to get BPOs, but I still manage to find out even if it is in a roundabout way.
There are blueprints available on the market but when the information window is brought up for these it isn't clear whether they are BPOs or blueprint copies (BPC). However, when I first became a capsuleer many months ago I wondered if I would be able to make money from manufacturing items and bought a cheap blueprint from the market as a simple experiment. I did nothing more with that blueprint, as I had no idea what I was doing, but I still have it sitting in my home base's hangar. I call up my asset window and look at the information screen for the blueprint and I find it is an original. This could be coincidence or luck but there is a second clue. The blueprints on sale on the market all have selling periods in the hundreds of days and unchanging, uniform quanities amongst many different sellers, both of which point to the sellers being NPCs. If that's the case it is most likely that they are selling legitimate BPOs. With this in mind I buy a blueprint for some useful ammunition and when I pick it up am glad to see it is the BPO I expected.
I can now start a research run on the BPO to improve its ME, which will make each manufacturing run require fewer minerals to compete, making it cheaper to produce the goods. This is probably a necessary step because manufacturers who perform material research are able to undercut the prices of those who don't. Using the science and industry interface I am able to work out that I need my BPO in a hangar before I can try to use it. I also need it to be in a station that has the required facilities and I can use the science and industry pane to help me find somewhere suitable. Requiring the blueprint to be in a certain location is only a minor inconvenience, as there are skills that allow me to start jobs remotely, even region-wide, so I just need to drop it off at some point.
Looking at the various research establishments for my BPO is somewhat disheartening. The earliest I can get an ME research job started is in 25 days time, and that is region-wide! There must be a lot of research going on. I hop a few jumps across to a neighbouring region to check there, just in case I happened to be in the research centre of New Eden, but I got the same result. If I want a researched BPO I am going to have to wait for it. It's a good thing I looked now rather than later, I suppose. It's getting late, so I move the BPO to the station and start up the ME job. I haven't really researched what I am doing with any level of thoroughness, as I am mostly using this BPO to find my way around the process, so I ask for the new ME level to be twenty and agree to the quote to start the job. In a month's time I'll have a researched BPO.
I should perhaps look at getting some more BPOs, ones which I hope to turn a profit on earnestly, and get them in to an ME research slot quickly. Even though I still have much learning and skill training I don't want to be hanging around for weeks when I am finally ready to begin manufacturing. Buying and researching BPOs may require an initial investment that I won't recoup for quite a while, but I already know that I will need to spend ISK to make ISK.
The main question I need to answer is what I hope to manufacture and sell, so that I can get the BPOs for those items in to research facilities soon. Maybe I'll just buy a bunch of interesting items and learn from the process and my mistakes, funding all of this with more level three missions.