During the 19th century Belfast, Northern Ireland was one of the world leaders in the production of linen. At the height of production, 75,000 people were employed in the industry and the city was known as Linenopolis. After World War I production decreased and mills closed.
Remnants of Belfast’s weaving heritage can still be seen in the names of streets and shops throughout the city, and if Axis Composites has its way, Belfast will once again be world-renown for its textiles, albeit textiles of a different sort. The newly started company is one of six in the world to weave 3D fabrics from carbon fiber.
These resulting fabric looks like normal cloth, but are actually stronger than metal and incredibly light. They can be used for aircrafts, space exploration, and so much more. Steven Kirby, managing director of Axis, says that he hopes this will lead to a new start to the weaving industry in Northern Ireland. If you want to see a 3D carbon loom in action, check out this video showing a giant 3D loom engineers at Lexus use to weave parts for cars. It's amazing to see the automated loom at work as the carbon "cloth" slowly appears.