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.

Make A Bit Of Cloth With This 3D Printable Loom

When the hackspace where this is being written created their textile room, a member who had previously been known only for her other work unexpectedly revealed herself to be a weaver, and offered the loan of a table-top loom. When set up, it provided an introduction to the art of weaving for the members of all different interests and backgrounds, and many of them have been found laying down a few lines of weft. It’s a simple yet compelling piece of making which  captivates even people who might never have considered themselves interested in textiles.

If you are not lucky enough to have a friendly hackspace member with a spare loom when you wish to try your hand at weaving, you may be interested in this Thingiverse project, a 3D printable rigid heddle loom. It’s not the most complex of looms, the heddle is the part that lifts the warp threads up and down, and it being the rigid variety means that this loom can’t do some of the really fancy tricks you’ll see on other types of loom. But it’s a functional loom that will allow you to try your hand at weaving for the expenditure of not a lot of money, some 3D printer filament, and some PVC pipe. If your hackspace or bench has an area devoted to textiles, it may find a place.

We’ve shown you a few looms on these pages over the years, but mostly of the more mechanised variety. A Raspberry Pi automated loom for example, or a CNC Jacquard loom.

Thanks to our Shenzhen contributor-at-large, [Naomi Wu] for the tip.