OpenKnit, the Open Source Knitting Machine

knit

For all the hubbub about 3D printers leading a way into a new era of manufacturing, a third industrial revolution, and the beginnings of Star Trek replicators, we really haven’t seen many open source advances in the production of textiles and clothing. You know, the stuff that started the industrial revolution. [Gerard Rubio] is bucking that trend with OpenKnit, an open-source knitting machine that’s able to knit anything from a hat to a sweater using open source hardware and software.

We’ve seen a few builds involving knitting machines, but with few exceptions they’re modifications of extremely vintage Brother machines hacked for automation. OpenKnit is built from the ground up from aluminum extrusion, 3D printed parts, a single servo and stepper motor, and a ton of knitting needles.

The software is based on Knitic, an Arduino-based brain for the old Brother machines. This, combined with an automatic shuttle, allows OpenKnit to knit the sweater seen in the pic above in about an hour.

Since OpenKnit is inspired by the RepRap project, all the files, software, and assembly instructions will be up on Github shortly. there’s also a video available below, and a Flickr gallery right here.

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Giving a CNC knitting machine a new brain

knitting

We’re all about big machines that build things for us – laser cutters, CNC mills, and 3D printers are the machines de rigueur for Hackaday.  Too often we overlook the softer sides of fabrication that include textiles and knitting. [varvara] and [mar] are doing their best to bring us the softer side of things with their modification of a Brother knitting machine. They call their build Knitic, and it’s a great way to knit with computer control.

Instead of previous Brother knitting machine hacks we’ve seen, Knitic doesn’t bother with emulating the keypad or controlling the microprocessor already there; this build dispenses with the Brother brain and controls the solenoids and switches of the knitting machine directly with the help of an Arduino and a home-etched shield.

It’s not quite an automated knitting machine – someone still has to run the shuttle across the machine – but the patterns are controlled via a Processing app available on the Knitic github. You can check out [Varvara]‘s demo of Kinitic after the break.

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Make a knitting machine print pixel art

[Becky Stern] shows how to take an old electronic knitting machine and interface it with a computer. After seeing the Brother KH-930E knitting machine in the video after the break it looks like the controls function quite like a CNC milling machine. Patterns can be programmed in and stored on a floppy disk. Since we don’t want to use those anymore (unless they’re hacked as an SD card carriage) it is nice to see that this is how the machine is connected to a computer. Using an altered FTDI cable and a floppy-drive emulator written in Python a blank design file can be saved on the knitting machine, manipulated in the computer to add your own pixel art, then loaded back onto the machine for production. At the very least, it’s interesting to watch the knitting happen, but fans of knitted apparel and geek paraphernalia must be salivating by now.

We’ve never given up our dream to transition from Hack-A-Day to Craft-A-Day, this just fuels the fire for that cause.

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