Sunday, May 8, 2011

Weaving galore

As a remark to the post about the machine park at Swedish School of Textiles, a friend forwarded a link of cutting edge use of weaving, namely the automated weaving of auto parts made from carbon-fibre and plastic.
 As technology blogger, Sandrine Ceurstemont explains in this NewScientist post: 

"It's a sports car few people will be able to get their hands on. In production since last December, only 500 Lexus LFAs will be produced and they were already sold out in early June 2010. But it's not just its top speed of 325 kilometres per hour that's attracting buyers. The car is being used as a test bed for newly-designed parts made from carbon fibre and plastic."

Of interest here, of course – is the key technology used, namely the high-tech circular loom, guided by lasers, that can weave 3D objects – (see the video link above).

Compared to steel or aluminium, carbon fibres make the car stronger and lighter but producing these components is much more time-consuming: only one car is currently being assembled per day.

3D-Woven sails
At a larger scale robotic weaving - or laminating is more the technique, I guess - is used for custom made three dimensional sails for racing boats. (See video link below by North Sails)
[Video of the weaving process of 3dl technology]

Woven architecture?]
When will this technology be used in architectural applications as woven load-bearing structures?? So spectacular - and seemingly achievable (at a 'certain cost'). In the concrete optics of this blog perspectives of producing high strength, low weight structures out of carbon would affect the way concrete structures are reinforced.

Textile concrete at Aachen
A cross disciplinary research project called Textil Beton (textile concrete) at the University of Aachen combines research in textile production technologies with reinforcement technologies of carbon fibres. The project was initiated in 1999 and running until 2012.

The abstract for the part-project Textile production, process and machine development is: For a sufficient and cost-effective reinforcement, a defined positioning of the fibers is necessary. Thus, a geometrically defined design of the textiles, both 2D and 3D, is required.   Aim of this project is the development and investigation of processes, which allow a textile production of non-corrosive reinforcements. Fibers used are alkali resistant glass, carbon and aramide.   Finally the investigation of integrated 3D textiles are focused in this project.

[Diamond lattice, prototype of textile reinforced concrete structure, from 'Insu-Shell']

For now, it seems as if the technology has mostly been developed for matting reinforcement that is flexible in two directions. The thin, non-corrisive reinforcement has been tested in repairing thin concrete shell structures. The technology seem ideal for this purpose because of the minimal required thickness of a protective layer of concrete.

I'm looking forward to more spatially woven reinforcement structures that combine the precision weaving of the Lexus robot with the knowledge of reinforcing concrete. They might be out there already.

Thank you, Jacob for forwarding the video link in the first place.