BPO = Blueprint Original - BPC = Blueprint Copy - ME=Material Efficiency - PE= Production Efficiency
Why research a blueprint?
Well the answer is easy, if you build from a blueprint that has a material efficiency of 0 then you are wasting materials building the item. Every BPO has a 10% wastage on it at ME0 which you can reduce by researching the ME of the BPO. Researching the PE on a BPO will reduce the amount of time it takes to make the actual object.
Skills for BPO Researching
Science - Basic understanding of scientific principles. 5% Bonus to blueprint copying speed per level.
Research - Skill at researching more efficient production methods. 5% bonus to blueprint manufacturing time research per skill level.
Metallurgy - Advanced knowledge of mineral composition. 5% Bonus to material efficiency research speed per skill level.
Laboratory Operation - Allows basic operation of research facilities. Ability to run 1 additional research job per skill level.
Advanced Laboratory Operation* - Further training in the operation of multiple laboratories. Ability to run 1 additional research job per skill level.
Scientific Networking* - Skill at running research operations remotely. Each level increases the distance at which research projects can be started. Level 1 allows for range within the same solar system, Level 2 extends that range to systems within 5 jumps, and each subsequent level then doubles it. Level 5 allows for full regional range.
Skills marked with a * are not necessary unless you intend on researching a lot, the rest of them are essential to a good lab rat.
Material Efficiency (ME)
So researching ME reduces the wastage factor on a BPO, means you use less materials to make the item and thus can reduce costs and enhance profits.
I'm going to put the next bit in bold you DON'T need to research ME to stupid amounts to reduce wastage most BPOs you will get less than 1% wastage by ME researching to 25. Tech 2 BPOs take MUCH MUCH MUCH less ME researching to get less than 1% wastage, on average ME2 will do the job. Players researching ME to hundreds are fooling themselves if they think they are actually doing anything to the wastage. It costs far too much to do the ME research to stupid numbers to actually gaining any benefit to manufacturing.
If I had my way I would cap BPO ME researching to ME50, after that a BPO shouldn't be ME researchable. Anyway enough of the argument about ME research and on with the guide.
Lets look at a Drake BPO researched and unresearched.
You can see the difference between an untouched BPO (left) and one researched to ME35 (right).
Production Efficiency (PE)
Researching the PE on a BPO reduces the time it takes to make 1 of the items on the BPO. So lets take a look at a Drake BPO unresearched and researched.
Untouched BPO on the left has a manufacturing time of 4 hours 10 minutes, underneath this time is my manufacturing time (skill adjusted) of 3 hours 12 minutes. On the right a BPO researched to PE5, this drops the manufacturing time to 3 hours 28 minutes, 2 hours 40 minutes (skill adjusted). This is what researching PE does to a BPO.