Sir Sidney McSprocket introduces us to great British minds, J Harrison and Oluwaseyi Sosanya, both of whom used their curiosity to improve on an existing design
For many years cloth was woven by hand and needed many people to operate the machinery.
Power looms, which were driven by steam, could weave double the amount of cloth with fewer people needed.
Of course, this wasn’t good news for the weavers, many of whom lost their jobs, but it revolutionised industry, with factories able to turn out more cloth than ever before to be sent to every corner of the globe by rail and sea.
Today, factories that weave cloth still use mechanised looms although they’ll be powered by electricity and operated by computers.
Not much call for steam power, unless you’re ironing the cloth!
A 21st Century great British mind is Oluwaseyi Sosanya.
He’s a design engineer who designed a machine that can weave thread – in THREE dimensions! Can you imagine?
Sosanya started the same way as Harrison, being interested in how weaving was done in the traditional way and thinking about how to improve the process. This curiosity resulted in an invention which is generating totally new and unique materials.
The machinery builds the material up a little bit like a 3D printer, layer by layer.
It can weave threads to create flexible open grid like structures which might be useful for the sole of a shoe, or tougher polymers that can weave tightly packed material for things like bullet proof jackets.