An Open-Source 4-Shaft Portable Loom

Part of writing for Hackaday involves doing the rounds of our community’s events in search of amazing projects for your delectation. This weekend it was a trip to Maker Faire Delft, thanks to the wonders of the European Interail scheme. Once on the site, [Aslı Aydın Aksan]’s 4-shaft weaving loom immediately caught our eye. This is an open-source portable folding loom design. In weaving terms, shafts are sliding vertical frames. As the name implies, this loom has four, which allow different sets of warp threads to be brought to the surface of the weave at different times. This feature makes it capable of weaving complex patterns in the fabric and thus makes it a very interesting project indeed.

The frame of the loom is laser-cut ply, cunningly designed such that when not in use it can be folded into a compact unit. The attachments are all 3D-printed PLA in the prototypes, the comb is laser-cut acrylic, and the heddles are 3D printed in a flexible material. These last components conceal a further trick, they’re designed to be extra-easy to move between shafts on the fly, allowing even more complex patterns to be created.

All in all this is one of those special projects that comes out of the blue and raises the bar on all in its class. If there’s another 4-shaft loom this accessible, we’ve yet to hear of it.

It’s not the first loom we’ve covered, however, this one wasn’t nearly as accomplished.

18 thoughts on “An Open-Source 4-Shaft Portable Loom

    1. I’d add 2 more heddles if I made it. There’s not a whole lot of “complex patterns” you can weave off of 4. Especially if you’re dedicating 2 to be a simple weave. Also, the only heddle depicted on the project page seems to be a rigid heddle, not sure how that’s going to work with multiple heddles. Would like to actually see it in use or at least a picture of the finished product. Good start place for my own project though, which is, I guess, what this site is all about.

      1. About this comment. The plans are to make a table loom with 4 shafts, not heddles. Heddles are suspended on the shafts. Every thread goes through a heddle. You can make lots of patterns on a 4 shaft loom. I believe add a 555 is referring to a rigid heddle loom which is not the same type of loom as this table loom.

        1. Is the comment correct that you’re 3d printing your heddles? How well do they stand up to use? We weave a lot of lumpy/uneven yarn and kinda struggle sometimes with the heddles we have (commercial steel wire.)
          Very cool design, especially how well it folds up.

  1. Well, I’ve been designing a portable lap sized four-shaft loom, its currently in redesign. But If your interested, I can send pictures. I’m hoping to make it a beginners four shaft, I’m thinking of going the route the makers of the nerdy gurdy are doing, making the plans available on thingiverse, and sell kits, and fully made looms.

  2. I had been pondering a variation on an Inkle Loom. Use those super inexpensive sg90 servos to pull the warp down. This would be half manual, you run the shuttle. I am envisioning semi circle of the servos in a semi circle pulling strings that pull elastic hair ties that the warp goes through. The servos sound like overkill but oddly enough, they are inexpensive, will stay at either extreme without taking a lot of power, they can move fast compared to a person (running the shuttle), and seem to be inexpensive compared to solenoids. I have been looking for a source for little solenoids I can get for less than a buck for a while now for another project. Tayda has the servos for a buck a pop.. Drive them with one of the 16 channel servo controller boards..

    1. I am also pondering about a half electronic version where the weaver runs the shuttle. I went over the possibilities and I think that a servo for each warp thread would end up with a crowded design and hinder the foldability and simplicity of the original one. Maybe we can discuss it further? I am really curious as to how you envision it.

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