I think rust should do away with blueprint spawns (keep blueprints as craftable items).
Researching an item should take time at a research table and specimens of the item to study.
Also there should be a tech tree of some kind which allows players to study craftable items. There would be several branches of study, such as explosives and farming equipment (we also need farming in the game), etc.
Blueprints could still be a drop but they should be extremely rare.
I think that there should be so many potential paths of research that one player could never research it all. This would force specialization and create more need for community cooperation. There should still be plenty of low tier items that are useful for the lonewolf type player (more so even).
Also more items based off of the land (things like healing salves).