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Old skills, new product

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As a child Dr Franz Freudenthal visited indigenous communities in the mountains of Bolivia with his doctor grandmother. On these trips she would quote a snippet of Rudyard Kipling “Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the mountains. Something lost behind the mountains. Lost and waiting for you. Go!” It seems unlikely he could have predicted the importance of the words or the trips. As a paediatric cardiologist he went on to utilise the weaving skills of the indigenous Aymara women to develop an implant to close ‘holes in the heart’.

The device is woven by Aymara women in a clean room environment from a single strand of Nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy that is superelastic and has shape memory. These material properties allow the woven implant to be compressed inserted into the body via a catheter in the groin and only expanded to its ‘top hat’ form when it is correctly positioned in the heart.

“The most important thing is that we try to get really really simple solutions for complex problems” Dr Franz Freudenthal, Paediatric Cardiologist

Website link: “A new way to heal hearts without surgery”, TED 

Knitting as the first additive manufacturing

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Interesting to chat to Hal Watts from Unmade at a reception for The 1851 Commission (an amazing organisation who funded both Hal and me to study at the RCA) about knitting as the earliest form of Additive Manufacture. In knitting you take a continuous material to form an object without waste and without removing excess – sounds like additive manufacture, no?

Website link: Unmade

Website link: The Royal Commission for the Great Exhbition of 1851

Thread Materials Library

Materials and sourcing

We source materials, fixtures and fittings from a wide range of suppliers, from local retailers to global manufacturers.

Our materials library is continually growing and contains materials fromcotton canvas to highly technical textiles.
We are continually looking for new fabrics to fulfil our clients needs

Featherweight feet

3D knitted spikes by Nike

The upper of the Nike Flyknit is like no other trainer or spike. Instead of being created from a number of panels stitched together it is knitted as a single piece (including the tongue). The upper has different properties in different areas. This allows the upper to be supportive where needed whilst also being breathable and incredibly light. At 110g it weighs roughly half of what a standard pair of spikes would. As an athlete (realistically an ex-athlete but I haven’t quite hung up my spikes), this sounds incredible. The lighter the shoe, the less energy you waste by making your feet heavier. Also, the more connected you feel to the ground which can help to improve running technique. The manufacturing engineer in me is intrigued by the 3D knitting process that came out of 4 years of R&D and required new machines to be developed. Perhaps understandably Nike don’t seem to have made public much technical detail of how these magical knitting machines work. That’s one factory I would love to have a good look around!

Website link: Nike Flyknit performance track spike