Oluwaseyi Sosanya invents
3D-weaving machine

| 7 comments

Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate Oluwaseyi Sosanya has created a loom that can weave in three dimensions and used it to create a shoe sole, presented at the institution's annual degree show (+ movie).

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

The 3D Weaver was designed by Nigerian American designer Oluwaseyi Sosanya for his The Structure of Protection graduate project.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

The machine weaves interconnected layers of straight warp threads and intertwining weft patterns at different heights, providing the third dimension.



Sosanya has a patent pending on this technology, which feeds yarn through two tubes and wraps it around a grid of vertical poles – as demonstrated in the movie above, filmed by Zuzanna Weiss.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

The machine relies on a similar layering process to 3D printing, but with an extra step to hold the structures together without a binder.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

"I looked at a few different machines when designing this one and got most inspiration from a sewing machine and an industrial knitting machine," said Sosanya. "Both of these machines allow thread to move freely through the mechanics using springs and guiding to hold the tension."

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

"With the 3D Weaver, once the first row is layered, the thread maintains its tension, due to guide tubes and a initial winding of the thread programmed to run before the weaving of each structure. I coded a bit of software that allows any solid geometry to be split into layers and woven."

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

To demonstrate the capabilities of the machine, Sosanya has woven a shoe sole made from one continuous thread, working in collaboration with footwear designers Lixian (Lisa) Teng and Tomiwa Adeosun.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

The sole is woven from natural fibres including cotton, wool and paper, and then dipped in silicone to maintain the structural properties.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

"The reason for using the materials I have chosen was to keep flexibility in the pieces," the designer told Dezeen. "Their behaviour is solely dependent on the structures. Both thread and binder work together to hold the structure. A continuous fibre running though the piece provides more stability with less mass."

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

"I looked into structures found in nature and auxetic structures were a big influence in the development of the zigzag structure."

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

Auxetic structures are defined as those which, when stretched, become thicker perpendicular to the applied force.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

The shoe soles have been created to give the process a commercial application, but Sosanya believes that applications for the technology could range from medical implants to architectural structures.

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

"I have been looking into threads and structures for filtration and air purification," he said. "I am developing more technical materials for helmets and stab proof vests – I am currently working on a material that I hope will address several of the issues caused by body shape that surround stab resistant vests worn by female British law enforcement officers."

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

The project is on display as part of the Innovation Design Engineering at Show RCA 2014, which continues until 29 June. Other projects at the exhibition include a seating system can be twisted and folded to create endless shapes, and a flexible and reusable packaging system for valuable goods. See more projects from Show RCA 2014 »

The Structure of Protection by Oluwaseyi Sosanya

Photographs are by Guillaume Couche.

  • Zoluz

    Fantastic!

  • immerfalschherumdenken

    Hab ich was am kopf? Wenn es flexibel sein soll ist die Schuhsohle ja genau verkehrt herum konstruiert?Aber die Hundkot dringt besser ein!

  • Romain_M

    The RCA produces some extremely capable designers. However, since the process essentially creates a composite material ( fiber + silicone ), how does this differ from existing 3D weaves such as those used to make floors in jumbo planes?

  • 3D printing again

    Can the yarn be actually knitted or does it just fall apart without any binder applied to it?

    What is the point if everything is dipped in silicon afterward? This seems like it could have been printed directly in a semi flexible elastomer, skipping the yarn knitting!

    • Aditya Liviandi

      I think it’s like concrete + iron rod. One handles tension the other handles compression.

  • icecream4U

    If you replace the bottom of shoes with this stuff you’ll have to watch out for mould. I like it though.

  • William Lue

    Spotted this share by #ProfJuneHaoHou of Taiwan’s NCTU and find it wonderful. Maker friends in Taiwan and the greater China region will enjoy the story a lot and look forward to further development of it in terms of commercial applications. Bravo!