Weaving is the action of producing fabric by interlacing warp and weft yarns at right angles to each other. This action can be produced on a frame, hand loom or automatic loom. The handloom has been around many years and with a significant development in 1733 when John Kay developed and patented the ‘Flying Shuttle’. This development helped fuel the industrial revolution. The first automatic loom was designed in 1784 by Edmund Cartwright and the next 47 years were spent perfecting this design until Kenworthy and Bullough developed the Lancashire loom in 1842. However this loom was not fully automatic and had to be stopped every time the shuttle needed new weft yarn. In 1984 George Draper and Son’s marketed the Northrop loom, a fully automatic loom, with a self feeding shuttle. It was named Northrop loom after its inventor ‘James Henry Northrop’. From 1942 technology advanced again with the invention of modern automatic and shuttle less looms. Today weaving is used in far more applications than any other textile manufacturing method.
The following video link gives a brief overview of the history of weaving to modern day technology:
The modern automatic looms are based on the simple mechanisms of the handloom (hand shuttle loom). In order to understand how an automatic loom works, it is useful to consider the mechanisms of a hand loom. Figure 1 depicts the essential features a handloom. The following are the key components which control the weaving process.
The warp beam: The beam which the warp was wound onto during warping. As shown, the warp yarns are passed from the warp beam and over the whip beam, through the heddle wires in the shafts, the through the reed and onto the cloth beam.
The whip beam: The whip beam helps to keep the warp yarns under tension as they move from warp beam to cloth beam.
The heddle: Also known as ‘heald wire’, is a looped cord shaped wire with a hole in the middle known as an eye. These wires are attached to a frame known as a shaft. One warp yarn passes through one eye.
Shaft: This is a frame which holds the heddles. The more shafts used enables a more complex pattern can be woven.
Reed: Also known as a ‘sley’ is a device consisting of several wires closely set between two slats. It serves as any or all of the following purposes:
1. Separates the warp yarns
2. Determines the spacing of the warp yarns
3. Guiding the shuttle
4. Beating-up the weft yarn into the fell
Batten: A flexible device which the reed is attached to, in order for pushing back and forth to create the shed and allow beating-up.
Fell: The line of termination of the woven fabric where the last weft yarn was beaten-up.
Shuttle: A yarn package carrier that is passed through the shed to insert a weft yarn (picks).
Breast beam: Holds the woven fabric under tension and guides the fabric onto the cloth beam.
Cloth beam: The woven fabric is wound onto the cloth beam under tension.
Treadles: Peddles which activate the movement of the roller above the shafts, alternating the and down motion of the shaft.
Fig.1 Hand Loom