The idea of creating a functional 3D printed Power Loom seems to be something no one has done yet. That’s why I decided to take on this challenge. Building this machine was a challenging task that required numerous hours both in front of the computer and in the basement, regardless of day or night. It is difficult for me to count the exact amount of re-printed parts that were necessary to finally produce a working machine. Occasionally, I had to temporarily put the project on hold to reignite my motivation.
In this post, I will introduce the individual components that make up the machine. I will discuss the difficulties encountered during the process and present the solutions I developed. It is important to emphasize that this is a prototype. There is still some room for improvement, and I will go into more detail about these aspects.
An article about this machine has been published on Hackaday.
The base frame was cut from acrylic glass. All connecting rods, shafts and axles were made of aluminum. The rest are 3D printed parts.
Furthermore, ball bearings, a motor and a spring are needed.
Components of a 3D printed Power Loom
- Heddles: The „heddles“ are the parts in a loom that are used to raise or lower the warp threads to allow shedding (the opening of the threads) during weaving.
- Weaving Reed: It is a rectangular component with many narrow slits or openings. The Weaving Reed is used to press the weft thread firmly into the resulting fabric and control the density of the weave. It normally moves back and forth.
- Shuttle: The shuttle is a movable assembly in a weaving machine that contains the weft thread and guides it through the warp threads during weaving.
- Beater: The beater is a movable component in a weaving machine that is moved back and forth after each insertion of the weft thread. Its main task is to press the inserted weft thread firmly into the resulting fabric and to control the weave density.
- Warp Beam: It is a cylindrical or roller-like part that holds the warp threads and maintains tension before they are woven into fabric.
- Heald Shafts: Heald shafts allow the warp threads to be raised or lowered during the weaving process to allow shedding (the opening of the threads) for the weft thread to be drawn in.
- Cloth Beam: It is a cylindrical or roller-like part on which the finished fabric is wound as it is removed from the loom.
Sprocket 1 is driven by a 12-volt gearmotor. Sprocket 2 is set in motion by a warp drive. Sprocket 2 serves as the drive for the ‚beater‘, a component that moves back and forth after each insertion of the weft yarn. Its function is to press the inserted weft thread firmly into the fabric being formed and to control the weave density.
On the shaft of sprocket 2 there is a gear wheel which meshes with sprocket 3. The gear ratio of these two gears is 1:2. Heald shafts are mounted on the shaft of gear 3. Heald shafts are components in a weaving machine that support and control the warp threads. These levers are moved to raise or lower the warp threads to allow the shedding process (opening of the threads) for insertion of the weft thread.
In addition, there is also an actuating cam 5 on the shaft 3 that pushes the actuating lever 6 down. The actuating lever 6 pushes the shuttle thrower 7 down. This shuttles the shuttle through the opened warp threads.
As already described, the sprocket wheel 2 swivels the beater 11 back and forth via an eccentric drive. The weft lever 7 follows this swiveling movement.
The procedure is as follows: When the „Beater“ 11 is in the rear position, i.e. in the immediate vicinity of the „Heald Shafts“ (warp threads), the „Actuating Cam“ 5 will press down the „Actuating Lever“ 6. This will push down the „shooting lever“ 7, and the „shuttle“ will be shot through the opened „heddles“ (warp shafts). After the „shuttle“ has been shot through, the „beater“ 11 moves back to the front position. As a result, the yarn previously shot through is pressed into the fabric by means of „weaving reed“ 12.
During this sequence, the „lever“ 8 moves up once and down once. This causes the „worm gear“ to rotate a small distance further. As a result, the „cloth beam“ 10 rotates a little further and the cloth is wound up.
To describe the process in words is not so easy. The best thing you can do is watch my video.
Lifting the warp threads
Spreading the warp threads is one of the crucial functions in weaving. It requires pulling the warp threads apart alternately to shoot the shuttle through. I had to do a lot of experimentation in this process. It was one of the most challenging tasks to accomplish.
My first attempt to connect the two „heddles“ with a simple pulley was unfortunately not successful. The problem is that the „heddles“ move differently depending on the eccentric setting. This leads to the fact that the connecting cord is sometimes taut and sometimes loose.
While the „beater“ 11 is in the rear position, the shuttle must be shot through. This is only possible as long as the warps are spread. The aim is to keep the warp threads spread as long as possible in order to shoot the shuttle through successfully. If the warp threads close again and the shuttle is not through yet, it can get stuck between the warp threads.
To keep the warp threads spread as long as possible, I chose the solution shown in the picture „heald shaft excenter“.
In the picture you can see that the eccentrics are not round, but have an unusual shape. This special shape makes it possible to lift the „heddles“ (warp threads) quickly and hold them in position for as long as possible. This creates additional time to successfully shoot the shuttle through.
The „shuttle“ is an essential component in a loom that plays a central role in the weaving process. It has the task of conveying the weft thread through the opened warp threads to form the fabric. The function of the shuttle is critical to accurately and evenly insert the weft thread between the warp threads.
During weaving, the shuttle moves back and forth between the open warp threads created by raising and lowering the heald shafts. When the „beater“ is in the back position, the shuttle is shot through the open space between the warp threads. The fabric picks up the weft thread and anchors it between the woven warp threads, creating the pattern and structure of the fabric.
The fact that the shuttle presents some challenges due to its small size and lightness raises several issues. It is crucial that there is no resistance at all when unwinding the cord. For this reason, the hand must be constantly moved back and forth as the line is wound to ensure that it crosses over continuously. Otherwise, there is a risk that the cord will become tangled in itself.
Additionally, it is essential that the shuttle is ground absolutely smooth, as it must glide over the lower warp threads. Even a small bump could cause the shuttle to catch on the threads.
To make the shuttle heavier, I added a brass plate to the shuttle. This added mass causes the shuttle to be lazier and less likely to snag. However, it is clear that more mass also requires more firing power.
It is understandable that after the shuttle is launched, due to its speed and mass, it carries a significant amount of energy that needs to be controlled and slowed down at the end of the shot. This can lead to issues such as the shuttle bouncing towards the warp threads.
The idea shared with me by a helpful gentleman to address this problem is quite interesting. It is also a thoughtful consideration to add hairs to the shuttle, ensuring that the thread unwinds cleanly and avoids entanglements.
This gentleman has built some very impressive machines, which you can see here. The opportunity to learn from other experts and leverage their experiences can often be a valuable source of innovation and optimization.
Winding the warp threads
The winding of the warp threads is best shown in a video. In the video you can see this from about minute 7:15. To prevent the warp threads from becoming entangled on the warp beam, wooden bars are placed between them. Then the threads are threaded through the Heald Shafts and attached to the Cloth Beam. One cord is always threaded through the back Heald Shaft and one cord through the front Heald Shaft. This causes the strings to alternate up and down.
You can download the building plan here:
You will get the following digital files:
- All .stl files you need to print the machine.
- Assembly drawing in .dxf, .jpg, .pdf -format.
- The complete 3D model of the machine in .step – format.
- The cut-out drawing of the base plate in .dxf, .jpg format.
- A drawing of all metal parts to be manufactured in .dxf, .jpg, .pdf – format.
- A detailed parts list of all installed parts including internet links to the supplier.
- An instruction video with all building steps.
- I will do my best to help you with any problems or questions.