Not Your Grandma’s Knitting: An Open Hardware Knitting Machine
Open source when applied to physical objects means that the designs for said objects are made public and free to use for one’s purposes. Although many people who take up the hobby of knitting are doing so as a way to fill time – some learn to do it just so they can do it at their children’s sports games – Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet, two artists from Estonia, have made an open hardware machine that streamlines the process of knitting.
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Open Hardware Knitting Machine
The machine makes it possible for those with little knowledge to mass-produce fabrics and clothing products. Called the Circular Knitic, the space-saving industrial-grade machine can be built at home using a 3D printer along with a few pre-fabricated parts. While not the first innovation to make use of the recent giant leaps in 3D printing technology, it is perhaps one of the more empowering and industry-oriented to come about.
In operation, the knitting machine uses motors to twirl the thread off a spool and into a woven fabric. Presumably since the design is open, people will improve upon it, perhaps making a larger version or enabling it to read pre-defined patterns and spin them into usable goods.
￼The version of the Circular Knitic which is going to be shown at DOERS at the Etopia Center for Art & Technology in the summer seems best for making something simple like a scarf. But it is not inconceivable that the design could be adapted to make more complex items like hats and gloves, or even sweaters. Ultimately products like this which can be produced inexpensively and expanded upon are the kinds of things that will help the creative weather a colder economy ahead.
Anyone ambitious enough to build something like this would also be smart enough to find a way to make it profitable. What will be interesting will be to see how people from the old world of knitting adapt to innovations like this, as well as what similar innovations will come around for other hobby fields.
Images from Shutterstock.