For his final project at the Royal Academy of Art, this graduate created a 3D weaving machine that can potentially save a life with a single thread.
Nigerian-American industrial designer, Oluwaseyi Sosanya, is a man with a vision and a device that can revolutionize the way we manufacture clothing. His patent-pending 3D Weaver effortlessly weaves fabric into three-dimensional shapes, creating beautifully designed geometric patterned knits that are both innovative and intriguing.
The secret is in the shape: thanks to their auxetic designs, Sosanya’s creations are flexible and strong. Auxetics are interesting materials; when stretched they do not weaken, but instead become thicker perpendicular to the applied force. Thanks to this unique trait, these materials have mechanical properties that include the flexibility of high-energy absorption and the strength fracture resistance. In fact, auxetics are useful in many applications ranging from body armor to sponge mops.
With this knowledge about the wonders of auxetics, Sosanya envisions that his 3D weaving technology can be applied for uses beyond cool clothing. He argues that 3D weaving can be used for medical implants or even for armed law enforcement in the line of duty. The issues of body shape for stab-resistant vests for women could be easily solved with the customizable calculations of a 3D printer, with the ingenious shape of his auxetic patterns to minimize damage from potential threats.
Though Sosanya has big plans for his technology, his first big demonstration of its capabilities takes a more humble road as the soles of a simple pair of shoes. The soles were made out of cotton, paper, and wool bound into one continuous thread that was woven into the desired shape. As the thread is woven into x, y and z coordinates around solid metal rods to produce a three dimensional shape, the thread is tipped with a special silicone binder that imparts a springy coating to the finished piece while maintaining the shape of its woven matrix for further durability.
The first 3D-woven soles for shoes may look funny, but they react to pressure in the same way as a normal sneaker; they absorb the impact and keep you on your toes in relative comfort.
Sosanya ‘s next big step—besides securing the patent for his machine—will be to source the right kind of materials to make his woven materials wearable and accessible to the average consumer. He also plans on doing away with the silicone covering entirely, thereby producing a cheaper and more lightweight material to work with.
Images: Sosa Fresh