Amendment to the below screenshots
Production Limit has been renamed at long last - it now shows on Blueprints as "Max Runs Per Blueprint Copy" thanks goes to CCP for listening to us constantly whine about the old name and changing it.
Blueprints - where to get them
Most (but not all) Tech 1 Blueprint Originals (BPOs) are sold in NPC stations in empire. Some BPOs are regional so for instance you might have to travel to Gallente space to get a Gallente ship BPO. Mining barge (retriever, procurer and covetor) BPOs have been seeded for some bizarre reason in 0.0 space, they are available in one of ORE stations:
4C-B7X VI - Moon 1 - Outer Ring Excavations Refinery
4C-B7X VIII - Moon 1 - Outer Ring Excavations Mining Outpost
NM-OEA V - Moon 4 - Outer Ring Excavations Mining Outpost
NM-OEA VI - Moon 23 - Outer Ring Excavations Mining Outpost
But be aware unless you know what you are doing you will probably get shot and killed. If you are willing to pay slightly over the normal price you should find some in Jita.
No Tech II BPOs are available in game anywhere with the exception of buying from another player. Now you might think this in not right but the universe of EVE is ever changing. Tech II BPOs were given out once by Research & Development (R&D) agents, this process was a lottery and most think it was unfair. Anyway to cut a long story short the Tech II lottery was scrapped and Invention has taken it's place. So the only way to manufacture Tech II items without a BPO is to invent them (see Invention section).
Faction item BPOs do not exist, some Blueprint Copies (BPC) are available for COSMOS items (not really faction I know but still) so the only way to get faction items is by killing another player who has them fitted, from Officer NPC spawns or buying them.
Understanding the Blueprint
You wont get far with manufacturing unless you understand the blueprint and what the sections and numbers on one means.
First of all there are 2 types of Blueprint, a blueprint original (BPO) and a blueprint copy (BPC). A copy is either made from a BPO or looted from a NPC pirate or complex. Some blueprints in the game are only available as copies like booster blueprints and factional control towers but to name just 2.
So when you are manufacturing a product you either need the BPO or a BPC. Most Tech 1 BPOs are purchased off the normal market, if you can't find a BPO for a tech 1 item it's likely that the BPO is only seeded in certain regions so shop around.
You cannot make a BPC from a BPC and you cannot research a BPC in any way to improve it. The BPO has to be researched and new copies created from it to improve BPCs.
Lets look at a blueprint in more detail
Two very important aspects of a blueprint is the Material Level (ME) and the Production Level (PE). The higher the ME the less materials the blueprint will take to make 1 item. The higher the PE the shorter amount of time it will take to make the item. So ME reduces costs by reducing materials and PE reduces the time it takes to make the item in question, this also reduces costs as the factory slots are paid for by the hour..
I deliberately took the above screenshot using a character with maximum manufacturing skills so you can see the difference between the times. If you look at the "manufacturing" section you can see the time of 12 minutes, this is to manufacture 1 of the items with no skils. Underneath that line is a Manufacturing Time (You), this is taking your skills into account.
A note about the "Production Limit" information, a lot of people think this is the maximum amount you can build at a single time. So using the above BPO as an example I would only be able to make 1000 of these items in one go. This is incorrect!! the Production Limit figure is the maximum number of runs you can make on a single BPC.
Lets look at the materials tab on this BPO
Pretty straight forward in this case, the materials listed is what you require to make 1 of these items. The skills above it are required by the person inserting the blueprint into the manufacturing slot to be able to make 1.
You can see from the above screenshot a set of extra tabs where you have bill of materials for - manufacturing, copying, research material efficiency and research time productivity. On a BPC these extra tabs will not be present as you cannot research a copy.