Fabricademy Week 8: OPEN SOURCE HARDWARE – from fibres to fabrics

Fabricademy Week 8: OPEN SOURCE HARDWARE – from fibres to fabrics

This class was based upon the open source hardware field and we focused on its potential in the area of textile. Our instructors this week were Mar Canet & Varvara Guljajeva.

We looked at how we could enhance out of date machines for making textiles and how we might take advantage of fabricating digitally. We looked at open source technologies have come up with ideas to create an open source machine for knitting, weaving and invented new techniques. The importance of the tools, techniques and machines that make traditional fabrics will bee looked as well.

The lecture gave an overview “on the evolution of these tools and how these impact production and manufacturing, with the focus on hacking, both machines and tools, and creating open source accessible machinery for a broader public.”

Here are the subjects from the lecture:

  • Techniques & history of Knitting and weaving
  • Machines: knitting machines (mechanical, electronic, digital / industrial)
  • Machine: weaving looms (mechanical, electronic, digital / industrial)
  • Open source machines & hacking machines: knitic, circular knitic, open knit → kniterate
  • Updating the industry with new tools, democratising machines
  • Tools
  • Software: CAD / CAM: laser cutter, big milling machine, electronics setup

Assignment 1:  Hack some machines using tools and software

Group project: BigBatik with Kuka

Small tests first

Here is Mohammed helping Anastasia, our human arm, controlling the big batik tool before we tested it with the Kuka robot arm!

Making our frames for Big Batik

We decided we wanted some big frames for out big batiks. We came up with two sizes, one square and one rectangular.

Using 2×2 pieces and triangular supports, we drilled and screwed the frames together. Teamwork!

Testing with Grasshopper, Rhino … & Kuka!

To run the Kuka robot, we had to understand the program running the arm. We had a great tutorial on the Grasshopper program about how the axis worked as well as what each section and the geometrical mathematics behind it.

We also had the opportunity to control the Kuka robot arm ourselves, with a simple hole-in-one game (a large sellotape cylinder on a pipe with the Kuka arm holding a stick, we had to spear the sellotape with the stick, only using the controls.

After having some fun we got to business setting up the big batik tool onto the robot arm, testing the horizontal levels and evenness of the frame by move the Kuka arm along the x & y axis and adjusting it accordingly on the z axis so that it was the correct height.

We also added in 1 second pause before the program would start to allow for time to configure from the moment of pressing start.

Big Batik with Kuka

We decided it would be nice to create a continuous line design to work with the batik, for both visual and practical reasons (I used a silly abstract photo of my father, repeated and mirrored it.)

When you use a regular size tjanting/canting with wax on a silk screen, the tjanting should be touching the fabric and pressed down. The continuous line would help this, especially as the wax would flow continuously as the batik tool has an integrated heater to keep the wax at a steady temperature.

My design was loaded onto Rhino and the Grasshopper program followed it perfectly. We had a few drips after the batik tool was brought up. The whole drawing process took only a few minutes.

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Still to come: Dying and finishing the fabric

As one of the students discovered, we could only really use a cold wash dye for the batik as any heat in any dye wash, would start to dissolve the batik wax. I have yet to choose a dye but I would like it to be dark like an indigo or a red.

Gallery and results to be added

Lace-making scaled up : Big-Bad-Bobbins

As an avid textile designa dn maker, when I first moved to Barcelona a sought out local schools teaching techniques. With the Escola Puntaires group, I began to learn the art of lacemaking and in the summer I visited the Museu L’Arboc. These are some images from the museum as well as current students work who are attending a school there. Many pieces can take up to a year. The modern mechanised lace is not created in the same way.

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My lace

As I am a beginner, I have started with simple techniques. As you can see, the technique is intense, laborious and creates very fine details.

It uses pairs of bobbins which have the ends of thread on each pair and these are initially used as counterweights for each other.  The pins hold the knots and twists in places which are decided on based on the pattern you are following and the effect you want to create. It is like a super fine macrame using threads only the width of sewing thread and usually cotton.

When I first started the course, one of the teachers began to discuss with me just how many possibilities there were with this technique, how it could be changed, modernised all with the traditional skills kept intact e.g by using unconventiaonal yarns or even scaling up. This idea stayed with me and it was one of my missions on the fabricademy course to see if this was possible.

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My Lace-bobbin designs and 3D printed versions

As this topic came around, I decided to see if it was possible to make some of the lacemaking bobbins. Initially with the help of the assistant tutor Mohammed, we created a bobbin on the 3D printer (you can see this in the last image next to one of the original bobbins and one of the double sized bobbins).

Using the outline of a half of a bobbin I created 4 designs of a half-silhoutte. I then expanded it on a cetral axis rotaion to create the objects in 3D view.

There was a few ways in which these bobbins could be created: traditional turned in wood, milled, 3D printed, creating moulds and casting… or a combination of all of them. On discussing it with people like Mohammed, Anastasia as the FabLab Head Technician Martin, I decided it would create the bobbins using a 3D printer.

*I have now create all 4 designs and would like to try them out soon.

** I also wanted to see how a mould would work so you can see this in image 4.


Still to come: Testing the super bobbins!

I have the frame/template ready. I still need to find some foam to fit the template and make some large pins!

Circular cog to knitting hoop

Being a knitter, I just had to follow one of the other ideas spoken about this week which was hacking the circular knitting machine. Here is my inspiration gallery and a bit of research. I like the idea of combining the knitting and weaving in the last 3 images.

My tests and designs so far

Last year Anastasia created a mechanical cog made from clear acrylic, so I decided this could be the base of a circular machine. The nice thing about the cog is that it has teeth grooves on both sides, which means that knitted could be made on the inside and outside, it could also created a ribbed knitted textile when you use alternating hooks.

Assistant tutor Noor and I measured the cogs and using the Dim function in Rhino, we added in all the measurements after we had placed the imaged as the background (just as you would in illustrator). Find the shape of one of the teeth we used Array to arrange the around the circle.

To create a tooth, I began by extruding the tooth curve upwards on the z axis, then I used the polyline tool to create a crochet-hook-like curve, I then ExtrudedCurve outwards along the x axis to intersect the first shape. The using Split, Boolean and Trim I have create da shape so far that will be able to be 3D printed. As you can see from the image with the purple teeth, using the Array and the centre point being the middle of the circle.

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Links I looked at for my research on Tool Hacking

Still to research:

  • http://gluejeans.com/
  • Textile Academy Student called Saverio Silli http://saveriosilli.fabcloud.io/fabricademy-saveriosilli/class08.html

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