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Software Adds New Level of Control to Industrial Knitting Machines

By EurekAlert

July 21, 2016

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Disney researchers have developed software that enables users to program industrial knitting machines, giving them the same flexibility to control the machine's output that already is standard for computer-controlled machine tools and for three-dimensional (3D) printers.

The software lets users specify designs based on simple shapes and then translates those specifications into the needle-level instructions required for the machines to work.

"We've shown that the versatility of these machines--and the ability of people to express themselves through the machines--can be greatly enhanced by changing the way they are programmed," says Disney Research's Jessica Hodgins.

The researchers developed several high-level shape primitives, which can be used to specify the shape and size of a knitted object and created a knitting assembly language that captures capabilities common to industrial machines. The researchers also created a graphic design interface for assembling the primitives.

"We believe that 3D machine knitting should one day join 3D printing as a user-accessible form of additive fabrication," says Disney researcher James McCann. "Getting it there will require new tools, algorithms, and data exchange formats, of which our compiler, transfer-planning algorithm, and knitting assembly languages are the first examples."

The researchers will present the compiler system next week at the ACM SIGGRAPH 2016 conference in Anaheim, CA.

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