We're developing a series of tools and systems for localized textile production. The ultimate goal is to produce a tabletop automated machine that can produce textiles locally for small businesses and hobbyists.
In order to do this, we are working through a variety of textile machines, both traditional and modern.
The first project is a basic rigid heddle loom + stick and boat shuttles ( https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2449174 ). With this project, people can learn the absolute basics of both weaving and loom design.
August 8, 2017 | ProgressTH The final version of the loom is currently up on Thingiverse. It also now includes a string heddle jig for making your own string heddle, and we will be adding a full string heddle design to work with this rigid heddle loom plus a reed system for beating.
The string heddle is also being developed for the automated tabletop loom. 3D printed heddles have a limitation on how many dents per inch you can make, limiting projects to larger sized yarn. If you want to make fabric for making clothes with much finer threads, you need more dents per inch.
You can learn how to make string heddles with instructions found at this website, under the subheading: "Making String Heddles."
Our jig uses 2 bamboo chopsticks with 5mm diameters. They are pressed into the 3D printed block only, no glue required. We used 2 clamps on either side to hold the block down while working. We printed a second block out with only two long chopsticks on the outer ends to place finished heddles on. This makes it much easier to tie without other heddles getting in the way.
With a single row of string heddles, you can get about 30 per inch, 60 if you use overlapping heddles.
We haven't tested out string heddles yet, so there is no way to tell if it is a viable design. What we do know is that 3D printing out more dents per inch isn't working out so well.
July 30, 2017 | ProgressTH The frame of our rigid heddle loom is probably as close to as good as we're going to get it for what we're aiming for. The final version and all files are now included on Thingiverse here.
The main improvement is allowing the 22mm PVC pipe to pass through the heddle supports and warp beam supports. This means only a single length of PVC pipe is needed on both sides of the loom, with 3 additional beams providing perpendicular support.
The heddle supports also have holes for 3mm bolts and nuts to fix them in place along the single lengths of PVC.
Before moving on to the power loom, we're probably going to experiment with the heddle some more, to make it modular and allow users to swap out different reeds. This system will likely be usable for the power loom as well.
In order to move it off paper, especially if you lack a background in textile engineering, requires an incremental process of building looms and understanding the basics of weaving until eventually, the knowledge, technology, and techniques necessary to build a tabletop power loom are acquired.
In under a month, we went from having zero knowledge about where clothes come from to a working rigid heddle loom and a clear roadmap on where to go next thanks to physical prototypes made possible with 3D printing that got our idea for a technology-enabled local fibershed out of our notebook and into the practical world as quickly as possible.
Before even constructing the first 3D printed loom, we constructed a very rough prototype using 4mm thick MDF board and the plastic cover of an old notebook. We quickly learned not only the basic process of weaving, but also many aspects of loom design that would need to be corrected with the first 3D printed version.
Constructing, using, and modifying the 3D printed heddle loom is informing our design of the next project, a handloom that will eventually be automated. Another great aspect of this rigid heddle loom design is that when it is finally optimized for strength and performance, its cheap price will make it easier to teach weaving at makers spaces with enough looms to go around.