3D-Printed Power Loom Shows How Complex Weaving Really Is

The seemingly humble flying-shuttle loom, originally built to make the weaving of wide cloth faster and easier, stood at the threshold between the largely handcrafted world of the past and the automated world that followed. And judging by how much work went into this miniature 3D-printed power loom, not to mention how fussy it is, it’s a wonder that we’re not all still wearing homespun cloth.

Dealing with the warp and the weft of it all isn’t easy, as [Fraens] discovered with this build. The main idea with weaving is to raise alternate warp threads, which run with the length of the fabric, to create a virtual space, called the shed, through which a shuttle carrying the weft thread is passed. The weft thread is then pressed in place by a comb-like device called the reed, the heddles carrying the warp threads shift position, and the process is repeated.

[Fraens]’ version of the flying-shuttle loom is built mostly from 3D-printed parts, with a smattering of aluminum and acrylic. There are levers, shafts, and cams galore, not to mention the gears and sprockets that drive the mechanism via a 12-volt gear motor. The mechanism that moves the shuttle back and forth in the shed is particularly interesting; it uses cams to release the tension stored in elastic bands to flick the shuttle left and right. Shuttle timing is critical, as a few of the fails later in the video show. [Fraens] had to play with cam shape and lever arm length to get the timing right, not to mention having to resort to a chain drive to get enough torque to move the shuttle.

We’ve seen power looms before, but mainly those that operate at a somewhat more stately pace than this one. Hats off to [Fraens] for showing the true complexity involved in automating weaving.

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Noah Feehan And The Mind Of The Maker

Too often we find ourselves featuring projects on these pages without giving much thought behind the people who made them. Nevertheless, behind the LED panels, github pages, and PCBs that make the hardware magic happen, there’s a person. And not just one person but an entire culture of people who let their conscious hours bleed late into the night over software bugs and bad solder joints. Noah Feehan is one of these veterans, and at this year’s Hackaday¬†SuperConference, he reached out to this culture. Noah comes armed not with projects but with design tips and an infectious enthusiasm that will make you rethink how you use your time and space in the land of DIY. Armed with ten years of experience in art and engineering design, Noah delivers his best tips for fellow hackers.¬†Spare yourself hours of confusion during future builds; kick back, and treat yourself to a few tips from a pro on keeping things together.

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