Working with partners at Cornell and Stanford, the VTRG explores a variety of challenges for mechanical and appearance-based textile simulation.



Looking Back to Look Forward: Reanimating Textiles for Novel Design and Manufacturing

Industrially produced textile samples woven in France during the 19th and early 20th centuries were shipped around the world and had a significant influence on the types of fabrics produced in the US textile market and elsewhere. These fabrics were capsules of fashion and timeliness, suggesting ideas about color, scale, graphics and surface to the broader industry, and providing new material for interior and apparel application.

The structural complexity of many of the samples suggests an intimate connection to the equipment and specialized techniques in manufacturing of the time. In the context of today’s shrinking manufacturing base, we explore these fabrics as repositories of the industrial weaving process and as a roadmap to new textile samples that can guide future connections between equipment and production.

In this project we look at woven textile samples from the RISD Museum Costume & Textile Collection with a focus upon Jacquard figured leno weaving and varied-height looped and cut pile techniques. The leno process relies upon an added harness element called a doup-heddle which functions as a parallel, programmable loom language in tandem with the Jacquard mechanism. The pile process calls for a unique set of hand tools and procedures to achieve variation in height and directionality of the pile.

Utilizing a computerized tomography (CT) scanning process, we are able to demonstrate the behavior of the yarns and the sequencing of the action within each sample. We then set up looms to create new samples informed by the old constructions, resulting in novel tools that draw upon rapid prototyping and complex computational modeling to reanimate these industrial techniques as viable strategies for the production of contemporary fabrics.

Paper presentation, exhibition and publication: Futurescan4: Valuing Practice, January 2019, University of Bolton, UK; research discussion: Repair and Design Futures, RISD Museum, March 2019, Providence, RI; paper publication, Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice, UK


Weaving Objects: Spatial Design and Functionality of 3D Woven Textiles

3D woven ares typically used for ultra-strong and lightweight composites such as engine fan blades and ballistic armor. These fabrics are difficult to engineer and can involve up to 40+ layers of material. The extreme depth of the fabrics means that yarns often travel on a “Z” axis as they move from one layer to another. Predicting yarn-based changes involving compression, friction and take-up is key to the successful composition of a sample, and CAD systems currently on the market do not robustly address these concerns.

Through partnership with Rhode Island manufacturer, TEAM, Inc, we have accessed industrial weaving equipment to develop a range of samples exploring various parameters and properties of 3D woven textiles. This information is passed to the researchers at Cornell, who are working on a UI that divides complex 3D fabrics into small and easy to understand component parts, the various configurations of which demonstrate allowable interactions and connections between multiple layers of a textile. Once a selection is made, the system utilizes offline relaxation to demonstrate the behavior of yarns and structures in the selected configuration, creating an end model that accurately shows behavioral dynamics and provides feedback about physical fabric behavior and allowable design/engineering decisions.

Art paper and publication: SIGGRAPH, July 2019, Los Angeles, CA; Technical Paper submission: SIGGRAPH , July 2020, Washington, DC

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Broad and Deep: Design Process and Visualization of Multi-Vector Wovens

Most dimensional weaving executed on rapier or shuttle looms requires sequential line-by-line weft insertion and sequential shed formation. The recent development of multi-shuttle looms and servo-driven shedding systems changes this— now, it is possible to activate multiple shuttles simultaneously, and build the depth of a fabric exponentially on a single “line”. The servo shedding system allows for varied shed height control so that different weave structures can advance at different rates on the various layers of the fabric, while shuttle action (rather than rapier or air-jet ) allows for partial passage turnaround and the creation of channels, conduits, and negative space on different layers of a cloth, all simultaneously rather than sequentially.

With limited access to such equipment, the VTRG has developed a hand-based process that relies upon a multi-harness loom, a creel, a jig system for simultaneous sheds, and a narrow shuttle insertion system in order to create a rough equivalent for developing examples of “quantum” woven fabrics. This process has allowed us to formulate an approach to the various design factors, which in turn informs the development of a UI and how one might design these fabrics computationally in a fully industrial environment.

Paper publication: DTEX Textiles Identity and Innovation, June 2019, Lisbon, Portugal