The design of 3D shape knitted preforms

Underwood, J 2009, The design of 3D shape knitted preforms, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The design of 3D shape knitted preforms
Author(s) Underwood, J
Year 2009
Abstract This research project explores knitting three-dimensional (3D) preforms suitable for fibre-reinforced composite structures utilising Shima Seiki’s industrial knitting technology. The research positions weft knitting as a 3D additive fabrication process that has potential applications in a wider design context away from the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry. The knitting machine could expand its usefulness from being purely a manufacturing process, to become a design tool for creating innovative 3D forms.

Within this context, 3D shape knitting offers enormous potential to achieve efficiencies of systems, waste minimisation and material optimisation. Technological advances in flat-bed seamless knitting, such as Shima Seiki’s WholeGarment® allow for the automated production of 3D forms that once could only be handmade. These advances provide a unique opportunity for new applications not traditionally associated with knitted textiles.

The research undertaken is set out in three parts. Part one focuses on the background knowledge required in order to understand the significance of the research. Part two, the Shape Lexicon, is a visual record of 3D shape knitted preforms, organised into three broad groups and described in detail. To communicate the 3D shape knitted forms, a new methodology focusing on the essential design parameters within a framework of technical constraints was developed via design specifications. Part three shifts to design issues evolving out of the technical explorations of the Shape Lexicon. A small case study CraFormaTion of knitted artefacts demonstrates how the research could be a useful tool for designers to develop new ways of thinking about form and the potential of 3D shape knitting to contribute to a wider design discourse.

The Shape Lexicon establishes a link between 3D shape knitting and parametric design principles. By focusing on the relationship of a shape’s variables and not specific values, a more flexible and systems orientated approach to form building was developed. Understanding the basis of parametric design within a knitting context also points to the next generation of digital knit software technology. To date, there has been no concentrated survey of 3D shape knitting techniques or generic knitted 3D forms in one informative document. Therefore this research project fills a significant gap in academic literature.

3D shape knitting informs current design debates including; considerations of design optimisation in nature, new technology and materials for design, the reconsideration of craft in a digital context, and the interplay between design and science. Innovations occurring with textile technology and material science are expanding the creative possibilities for designers to reconsider the relationship between surface and form in a more integrated manner. The Shape Lexicon potentially instigates these exchanges and enacts new ways of thinking about form. Trans-disciplinary approaches are necessary to creatively respond to the nexus of technology and craft, and to be able to blend scientific and technical know-how, with a poetic and aesthetic sensibility. In this context, the potential for Textile Design and Architecture to work more closely together is considered. For textile designers such exchanges assist the discipline to reposition itself beyond the surface.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Fashion and Textiles
Keyword(s) 3D shape knitting
seamless knitting
Shima Seiki
textile design
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Created: Fri, 26 Nov 2010, 11:41:42 EST
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