Weaving in 3-D: Introducing the First 3-D Weaving Machine
You've heard of the 3-D printer, but what about the 3-D weaver? Yep, this new innovation aims to combine the efficient capabilities of 3-D printers and traditional weaving methods in order to mass produce a number of objects, from bulletproof vests to construction materials.
The 3-D weaver is the brianchild of Oluwaseyi Sosanya, a Nigerian American industrial designer and cycling enthusiast. He desired to find a way to create more flexible protective clothing for athletes, and weaving seemed to be the way to go. He learned how to weave and integrated his newfound skill with his background in mechanical engineering and computer programming to create the prototype of a 3-D weaving machine. The machine guides yarn in desginated patterns over layers to make 3-D shapes and replaces the traditional warp with rigid tubes that are held together by silicone. So far, he's been able to weave springy and flexible shoe soles, which he says opens the door for footwear customization for athletes.
(Image source: TheGuardian.com. Photo by Christian Sinibaldi.)