The present invention relates to a needle loom with an
automatic change of the weft thread.
In textile machines, fabric formation takes place through
mutual interlacing of a plurality of warp and weft threads suitably engaged by respective
It is known that the textile machines called needle looms
comprise one or more forming heads designed to form the textile product at which
interlacing occurs between the warp threads coming from respective beams installed
on a rack called "creel", and the weft threads unwound from respective bobbins mounted
on a creel dedicated thereto and fed from suitable devices. The needle looms are
used to manufacture textile products of an indefinite length but having reduced
widths, in the order of few centimetres, such as ribbons, tapes or laces, shoulder
Each forming head substantially comprises a bearing plate
defining the forming plane of the textile product, at least one pair of heddle frames
designed to alternately raise and lower the warp threads fed to the bearing plate,
a sickle bringing one or more weft threads between the warp threads in a direction
transverse to the warp threads themselves, a needle designed to retain the weft
threads before the latter are harnessed between the warp threads by effect of the
heddle frame motion, and a reed that, after each passage of the sickle, compacts
the weft threads on the already formed textile product. Suitable means disposed
downstream of the forming station keep the textile product under tension and allow
the same to come out of the loom.
Known in the art are needle looms capable of feeding two
or more weft threads, of different colours or materials, to the sickle, and to select
which of said threads must be included in the fabric at each passage of the sickle
itself. Needle looms of this type allow ribbons with multi-coloured transverse bands
to be manufactured, for example.
For the purpose, the looms of the known art are provided
with a particular guide device that is placed upstream of the sickle and enables
each of the weft threads to be moved vertically between an active position at which
it is hooked by the sickle, and a passive position at which the sickle is not able
to intercept said weft thread.
This device is located close to the bearing plate and the
reed and comprises as many movable guide elements as the weft threads. Each guide
element is provided with an eye through which a weft thread passes before reaching
the sickle. Each guide element is vertically movable usually between a lower position,
an intermediate position and un upper position. The sickle is provided with a hook
in which the weft thread engages when the latter is brought to the intermediate
position by a movable guide element while the other elements are at one of the end
Movement of the guide elements in accordance with the known
art is obtained through complicated motion-transmitting mechanisms connected with
the main drive shaft of the needle loom and capable of converting the periodic motion
of the shaft into distinct movements that are however correlated with the individual
The motion-transmitting mechanisms of known type are formed
of mechanical transmissions and/or magnetic actuators capable of hooking or releasing
one of the movable guide elements, based on the angular work phase of the drive
As a consequence of the above, in most of the known needle
looms, the law of motion of the movable guide elements cannot be varied, unless
the whole motion-transmitting mechanism is fully designed again.
Also known are needle looms enabling movement of the guide
elements to be changed; but in this case the motion-transmitting mechanisms must
be disadvantageously physically modified through replacement of parts of them or
mounting of said parts according to different configurations for example, in order
to pass from a pattern to another.
In any case, all needle looms of known type do not enable
the law of motion of the guide elements to be changed and therefore the distribution
of the weft threads in the fabric to be modified during working.
Accordingly, the present invention aims at eliminating
the above stated drawbacks by proposing a needle loom with an automatic change of
the weft thread that is much more versatile than in known looms.
It is also known, from document EP1353000, a weft controlling
device for a strap weaving machine which comprises motors mounted on an assembly
board and controlling rods each movably connected to a corresponding one of the
motors by a controlling thread and each controlling rod having a weft hole in a
distal end thereof so as to allow weft to pass through the weft hole. Springs are
each mounted around a corresponding one of the controlling rods to provide a recovery
force to the corresponding controlling rod. The movement of the controlling rods
by the motors is able to drive the weft to a specific position for selection by
the strap weaving machine.
In particular, it is an aim of the present invention to
propose a needle loom enabling the law of motion of the guide elements of the weft
threads to be easily changed in order to vary the distribution of the weft threads
in the fabric in the same way and therefore the type of fabric thus produced.
Another aim of the present invention is to devise a needle
loom with automatic change of the weft threads in which the actuating means for
the guide elements are of simple and reliable construction.
The foregoing and further aims are substantially achieved
by a needle loom with automatic change of the weft thread comprising the features
set out in one or more of the appended claims.
The description of a preferred but not exclusive embodiment
of a needle loom with automatic change of the weft thread is now given by way of
non-limiting example with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
- Fig. 1 is a diagrammatic elevation front view of a needle loom with automatic
change of the weft thread in accordance with the present invention, in which some
parts are removed for a better view of others;
- Fig. 2 is a diagrammatic elevation side view of the loom in Fig. 1;
- Fig. 3 is a diagrammatic view from top of the frame in Fig. 1; and
- fig. 4 is a perspective view to an enlarged scale of a detail shown in Figs.
1, 2 and 3.
With reference to the drawings, a needle loom with automatic
change of the weft thread in accordance with the present invention has been generally
identified with reference numeral 1.
The needle loom 1 comprises a supporting structure 2 on
which at least one forming head 3 for a textile product "P" (shown in detail in
Fig. 4) is mounted. In the accompanying drawings, loom 1 has four forming heads
3 disposed in side by side relationship with each other along a predetermined axis
"X" (Fig. 3), said heads being able to simultaneously produce the same number of
textile products "P".
As better shown in Fig. 4, according to one pattern of
known type, the forming head 3 comprises a bearing plate 4 having a predetermined
forming plane 5 on which the textile product "P" rests.
Upstream of the bearing plate 4, the forming head 3 has
at least two heddle frames 6, preferably a plurality of heddle frames 6.
For the sake of clarity, in Figs. 1, 2 and 3 the heddle
frames 6 have not been illustrated and the forming heads 3 have been shown only
The heddle frame 6 is an element capable of alternately
raising and lowering the warp threads "O" engaged by it while said threads are being
fed to the bearing plate 4. Each heddle frame 6 comprises a plurality of heddles
7 each provided with an eye 8 through which a warp thread "O" passes. Heddles 7
are mounted on a pair of heddle slide bars (Fig. 4) reciprocated along a direction
perpendicular to the forming plane 5. Each heddle frame 6 engages a set of warp
threads "O", only two of which are represented in Fig. 4, and is usually moved between
two or three operating positions.
The heddle frames 6 can be guided by a Glider chain or
a cam chain connected with a main drive shaft of loom 1 or by electromechanical
actuators operated in accordance with preset programs.
The warp threads "O" come from respective beams of known
type and not shown, mounted on a rack called creel for example, and are fed by suitable
means to the bearing plate 4 through the heddle frames 6. In particular, the warp
threads "O" pass through the eyes 8 of the heddle frame heddles 7 and converge towards
a forming plane 5 where they are interlaced with at least one weft thread "T" to
form the textile product "P (Fig. 4).
In more detail, the warp threads "O" intercepted by a single
heddle frame 6 lie in the same plane and the planes identified by the warp threads
"O" of the different heddle frames 6 intersect at the bearing plate 4.
Downstream of the bearing plate 4, the loom 1 has suitable
means of known type, not shown, keeping the textile product P" already formed and
the warp threads "O" coming from the heddle frames tensioned, thus enabling exit
The head 3 further comprises at least one sickle bringing
at least two weft threads "T" transversely of the warp threads "O", in an alternated
Each of the weft threads "T" is unwound from a respective
bobbin, mounted on a creel and is advantageously fed to the sickle 9 through feeding
means 10 (Fig. 2) and through a respective movable guide 11 disposed close to the
bearing plate 4 (Figs. 2 and 4).
Each of the movable guides 11 preferably has a structure
similar to the heddle of a heddle frame 6. It consists of a vertical rod provided
with an eye 12 inside which a weft thread "T" passes before reaching sickle 9 (Fig.
Each of the movable guides 11 is moved along a vertical
direction with a reciprocating motion preferably offset with respect to the motion
of the other guides 11, by actuator means 13, shown in Figs. 1, 2, 3 and only partly
in Fig. 4, so as to vary the height of eyes 12 guiding the weft threads "T" and
the location in height of the weft threads "T" themselves.
Sickle 9 has a U-shaped arm 14 with a first end 14a hinged
around an axis 15 perpendicular to, the predetermined forming plane 5 and a second
end 14b provided with a hook 16 preferably a dovetail hook, capable of intercepting
one of the weft threads "T" to bring it in engagement with the warp threads "O"
close to the bearing plate 4.
According to a pattern of known type, sickle 9 carries
out an alternated rotatory motion in the form of an arc of a circle so that hook
16 cyclically moves close to and away from the warp threads "O".
In particular, hook 16 is movable between a first position
at,which it lies in side by side relationship with a first side end 4a of the bearing
plate 4, and a second position, at which it lies in side by side relationship with
a second side end 4b of the bearing plate 4.
The hook 16 of sickle 9 intercepts and brings to the second
side end 4b of the bearing plate 4, the weft thread "T" positioned by the respective
movable guide 11 at a predetermined location in height, while the other weft threads
"T" having a higher or lower position are not intercepted.
To prevent the weft threads "T" that are not engaged by
hook 16 from interfering with other parts of loom 1 or, given the concerned velocities,
from starting vibrating, thus making it impossible for sickle 9 to intercept them
in a subsequent work cycle, sickle 9 preferably has two superposed arms 9a, 9b connected
close to the second end 14b by an arched segment 9c. The two arms 9a, 9b delimit
a slit 17 through which all weft threads "T" pass, irrespective of whether they
are intercepted or not by hook 16. In the embodiment herein illustrated, the hook
16 is rigidly connected with the upper arm 9a and extends within the slit 17.
At the second side end 4b of the bearing plate 4, the head
3 has at least one movable needle 18 the function of which is to temporarily retain
on its end, the weft thread "T" brought by sickle 9 to the second position, until
interlacing of this weft thread "T" with the warp threads "O". Needle 18 moves relative
to the bearing plate 4 between a retracted position, at the first position of sickle
9, and a moved forward position, corresponding to the second position of sickle
9. A charging device 19 disposed in side by side relationship with needle 18 is
used to charge the weft thread "T" on the end of said needle 18.
The forming head 3 finally comprises a reed 20 the dual
function of which is to keep the warp threads "O" separated from each other and
to tighten the weft threads "T" against the already formed textile product "P",
preferably after each passage of sickle 17.
The reed 20 is installed between the bearing plate 4 and
the heddle frames 6 and has a frame of parallel vertical lamellae or rods fastened
to a rigid framework. The reed 20 is movable between a disengagement position, at
which it lies spaced apart from the bearing plate 4 and the textile product already
formed "P", and a compacting position at which it lies close to the bearing plate
4 to compact the weft thread or threads "T".
Advantageously and in a different manner from the looms
of the known art, the actuator means 13 designed to move the movable guides 11 of
the weft threads "T" comprise the same number of electric motors 21 as the number
of movable guides 11 present in a single forming head 3 (Figs. 1, 2 and 3). Each
electric motor 21, preferably of the stepping type or brushless, is connected with
a respective one of the movable guides 11 to displace it, in a manner independent
of the others.
Preferably, as shown in Fig. 1, each of the electric motors
21 is connected with the homologous movable guides 11 of all heads 3.
By the term "homologous guides" it is intended the guides
11 of the different heads 3 that are located in the same relative position with
respect to the remaining movable guides 11 of a single head 3 and that carry out
the same movement sequence.
In this way, all heads 3 of a single loom 1 driven by a
single group of electric motors 21 work in parallel to produce identical articles
According to alternative embodiments not shown, also falling
within the scope of the present invention is a loom 1 provided with electric motors
21 specifically dedicated to the movable guides 11 of each individual head 3, therefore
capable of simultaneously producing different articles of manufacture.
The electric motors 21 are operatively connected with a
programmable control unit 22 (diagrammatically shown in Fig. 2), preferably a microprocessor,
capable of controlling displacement of each movable guide 11 based on specific work
programs set by an operator.
Unit 22 is further connected with sensor means 23, only
diagrammatically shown, detecting and transmitting to the unit 22 itself, at least
one parameter indicating the work step of loom 1, which performs the function of
reference signal for such a unit 22. Preferably, the sensor means 23 consists of
an encoder mounted close to the main drive shaft for example, to detect the angular
position of the shaft and the exact operating step of loom 1, at each instant. The
encoder 23 enables the angular position of the main drive shaft at which intervention
of the electric motors 21 and displacement of the movable guides 11 take place to
be set, via software.
The electric motors 21 are installed on an upper portion
24 of the support structure 2, over the forming heads 3. In particular, the upper
portion 24 delimits a horizontal plane 25 on which motors 21 rest and are fastened,
each having its own small shaft 26 oriented parallel to the axis "X" of mutual alignment
of the forming heads 3 (Fig. 3).
In the embodiment shown, the loom 1 has four forming heads
3, each provided with three movable guides 11 that are disposed in mutual side by
side relationship and are vertically slidable within fixed supports 27 mounted on
the supporting structure 2 (Figs. 1, 2 and 4).
Installed in the horizontal plane 25 are three electric
motors 21 dedicated to the movable guides 11.
Motion-transmitting means 28 is interposed between each
electric motor 21 and the respective movable guide 11 or the respective homologous
movable guides 11.
In more detail in terms of construction, the motion-transmitting
means 28 comprises an intermediate kinematic mechanism 29 connected with the electric
motor 21, and a flexible element 30.
The flexible element 30, in the form of a cord, has a first
end 30a connected with a first end 11a of the movable guide 11 and a second end
30b connected with the intermediate kinematic mechanism. A return spring 31 connects
a second end 11b of the movable guide 11, opposite to the first one, with the supporting
The intermediate kinematic mechanism 29 is made up of a
crank, a connecting-rod 33 and a rocker arm 34 mounted on the horizontal plane 25.
In Fig. 2 one of the electric motors 21 has not been shown for a better view of
this structure. The crank 32 is fitted on the small shaft 26 of the electric motor
21, the connecting-rod 33 has a first end 33a pivotally mounted on the crank 32
and a second end 33b articulated on a first end 34a of the rocker arm 34 (Fig. 2).
The rocker arm 34 has a second end 34b connected with the
second end 30b of the flexible element 30 and a third end 34c hinged on the upper
portion 24 of the supporting structure 2 through a bracket 35.
The second end 34b of the rocker arm 34 carries, hinged
thereon, a hook 36 engaging an eye 37 formed at the second end 30b of the flexible
element 30 (Figs. 2 and 3).
Loom 1 as shown has a plurality of flexible elements 30
associated with each electric motor 21, to connect the rocker arm 34 with all homologous
guides 11 of the forming heads 3 (Fig. 1).
The flexible elements 30 are guided to the respective heads
3 through elongated slots formed in suitable guide elements 38 mounted on the supporting
structure 2 between the motors 21 and forming heads 3.
In accordance with the preferred and herein illustrated
embodiment, loom 1 is further provided with at least one and preferably two auxiliary
movable guides 39 that are similar in structure to the movable guides 11 for the
weft threads "T" but positioned close to the heddle frames 6, downstream or upstream
of the latter with respect to a moving forward direction of the warp threads "O"
towards the bearing plate 4. The auxiliary movable guide 39 too is slidable within
supports 27 that are rigidly connected with the supporting structure 2.
In accordance with a scheme of known type, the auxiliary
guide 39 intercepts an auxiliary warp thread "Oa" that must be moved along a vertical
direction in a manner independent of the sets of warp threads "O" engaged by the
heddle frames 6. In particular, the auxiliary warp thread "Oa" is used for manufacturing
ribbons to be gathered or crumpled up, known by themselves, in which the auxiliary
warp thread "Oa" remains superposed on the weft threads "T" over predetermined longitudinal
lengths of the ribbon. This configuration allows the final purchaser to gather the
ribbon by merely causing sliding of the auxiliary warp thread "Oa" with respect
to the rest of the textile product.
During formation of the fabric, the heddle frames 6 are
vertically moved between two end positions, an upper and a lower position respectively,
to cause crossing of two or more sets of warp threads "O" and interlacing with the
weft threads "T" carried by sickle 9.
The auxiliary guide 39 moves independently of the heddle
frames 6 and keeps the auxiliary warp thread "Oa" to the upper or lower position
for a predetermined number of work beat-ups so that, in the finished product "P",
the auxiliary warp thread "Oa" remains superposed on a plurality of weft threads
"T" along the predetermined longitudinal ribbon lengths.
Each auxiliary movable guide 39 is moved by actuating means
40 dedicated thereto that, unlike in looms of known type, is defined by an auxiliary
electric motor 41. The auxiliary electric motor 41 is connected with the auxiliary
guide 39 through an intermediate mechanical driving mechanism 42 similar to the
motion-transmitting means 28 interposed between the guides 11 for the weft "T" and
the respective motors 21.
In the embodiment herein illustrated and comprising a plurality
of forming heads 3 provided each with a single auxiliary guide 39, the auxiliary
electric motor 41 is connected with the auxiliary homologous guides of all heads
3 (Fig. 1).
The illustrated embodiment shows the auxiliary electric
motor 41 controlling the auxiliary guide 39 for the auxiliary warp thread "Oa",
disposed in side by side relationship with the three electric motors 21 dedicated
to the guides 11 of the weft threads "T".
The mechanical driving mechanism 42 comprises an idle pulley
43 mounted on bracket 35 and connected with the small shaft 44 of the auxiliary
motor 41 through a belt 45. Belt 45 passes over the pulley 43 and the motor small
shaft 44 itself (Fig. 2).
Hooked on pulley 43 is a first end 46a of a flexible element
46 defined by a cord similar to those used to move the guides 11 of the weft threads
"T". The cord 46, at its second end 46b opposite to the first end 46a, is connected
with an upper end 39a of the auxiliary movable guide 39. The auxiliary movable guide
39 is further mounted, like the guides 11 of the weft threads "T", on the supporting
structure 2 through a return spring 31.
Each cord 46 is guided towards the heads 3 through elongated
slots formed in suitable guide elements 38 mounted on the supporting structure 2
between the motor 41 and the forming heads 3.
Rotation of the small shaft 44 of the auxiliary electric
motor 41 in both a clockwise and counterclockwise direction causes partial winding/unwinding
of the cord 46 on pulley 43 and raising/lowering of the auxiliary guide 39.
As shown in Fig. 2, the auxiliary electric motor 41 too,
that can be of the same type as motors 21 for the weft threads "T", is connected
with the,programmable control unit 22, to control displacement of each auxiliary
movable guide based on the work program set by the operator.
One or more auxiliary movable guides 39 moved by respective
auxiliary electric motors 41 following the above described scheme can be present
on the needle loom 1 also in the absence of the weft changing device or with a weft
changing device different from the one described in detail above.
Referring particularly to Fig. 2, the means 10 for feeding
the weft threads "T" is positioned upstream of the forming head 3 and the movable
guides 11 at a rear region 47 of the supporting structure 2.
The means 10 for feeding the weft threads "T" comprises
as many secondary electric motors 48 as the number of movable guides 11 and the
weft threads "T" of each head 3. The feeding means 10 further comprises a plurality
of pulleys 49 on which the weft threads "T" are engaged. Each pulley 49 is dedicated
to a respective movable guide 11.
In the illustrated embodiment that is provided with a plurality
of forming heads 3, each of the secondary electric motors 48 is connected with a
plurality of homologous pulleys 49 dedicated to the homologous movable guides 11
of all heads 3. The homologous pulleys 49 are carried by a single propeller shaft
50 extending through the supporting structure 2 and lying parallel to the predetermined
"X" axis on which the forming heads 3 are disposed in side by side relationship.
Shafts 50 are mutually parallel and are driven in rotation by respective secondary
electric motors 48. Each shaft 50 belongs to a motion-transmitting member 51 interposed
between the secondary electric motor 48 and one of pulleys 49.
The secondary electric motors 48 that can be of the same
type as the electric motors 21 dedicated to the movable guides 11 for the weft threads
"T", are mounted on the rear portion 47 of the supporting structure 2 with their
small shaft 52 oriented horizontally and parallel to the predetermined "X" axis
The motion-transmitting member 51 further comprises a belt
53 passing over the small shaft 52 of the respective secondary electric motor 48
and the respective propeller shaft 50. In particular, belt 53 is a drive belt passing
over a first cogwheel 54 fitted on the small shaft 52 and on a second cogwheel 55
fitted on the propeller shaft 50.
The secondary electric motors 48 are connected with the
programmable control unit 22 operating them in such a manner that the angular velocity
of said motors is varied so as to keep the weft threads "T" tensioned during every
working step. For the purpose, the secondary motors 48 can be operated for rotation
in both ways, even if they usually rotate only in one way.
All movements of the above described elements are electronically
controlled by the control unit 22 to enable them to take place in synchronism following
the operating diagram hereinafter described.
In use, in a first operating step of the needle loom 1,
while two sets of warp threads "O" are held spaced apart by the two heddle frames
6, sickle 9 is in the first position and hook 16 is in side by side relationship
with the first side end 4a of the bearing plate 4. Needle 18 is retracted and temporarily
retains the weft thread "T", the charging device 19 is in the lowered position and
reed 20 is in its compacting position.
At this point, the heddle frames 6 moved in opposite ways,
cause crossing of the two sets of warp threads "O" and interlacing with the weft
Reed 20 moves to the disengagement position and allows
sickle 9 to move to the second position close to the second side end 4b of the bearing
During this movement, the hook 16 of sickle 9 engages the
weft thread "T" that, at that instant, reaches the predetermined location in height
for interception and is retained by one of the movable guides 11.
The other weft threads "T" passing in the movable guides
11 positioned to a higher or lower location are not intercepted but are in any case
maintained tensioned through slowing down of the angular speed of the secondary
motors 48, or even reversal of same. ,
Simultaneously, needle 18 moves to the advanced position
and releases the already interlaced weft thread "T", being ready to retain the weft
thread "T" brought again by sickle 9.
Before sickle 9 goes back to the first position, the charging
device 19 moves upwards and causes hooking of the weft thread "T" with needle 18
during the return stroke of the latter to the retracted position. Once sickle 9
has gone back to the first position, reed 20 moves to the bearing plate 4 to compact
the new weft course.
At this point a new operating cycle for making a subsequent
weft course begins.
According to the previously set program, the control unit
22 operates the electric motors 21 to make them move the movable guides 11 and lead
the same weft thread or a different weft thread "T" to pass or stand by at the interception
location in height during moving forward of sickle 9.
The textile product "P" obtained with the present needle
loom is formed of a succession of weft courses consisting of different weft threads
"T" interlaced with the warp threads "O". The weft threads "T" utilised can be of
different materials or merely of different colours.
Finally, as an alternative to the sickle of the described
type both in terms of construction and operation, the loom being the object of the
invention can have other types of sickles, known by themselves, that, while working
in a slightly different manner from that described in detail above, in any case
allow at least two weft threads "T" to be brought transversely between the warp
threads "O", in an alternated manner.
The invention achieves important advantages.
The needle loom with automatic change of the weft thread
in accordance with the present invention is much more versatile than the looms of
the known art.
In fact, the needle loom in reference allows different
types of ribbons to be manufactured by mere setting of the unit controlling the
guides for the weft threads and the guides for the auxiliary warp threads, without
replacement of mechanical parts or mounting of said parts in different configurations
In addition, the needle loom in accordance with the present
invention allows the sequence of the weft threads and the position of the auxiliary
warp thread to be varied in an automatic manner during working, without stopping
Furthermore, by adopting electric motors in place of the
traditional electromechanical controls on the weft, the work speed of the loom can
be increased until about one thousand beat-ups per minute.
Due to the electronic control of the secondary motors,
tensioning of the weft threads can be optimised and consequently ribbons of very
regular longitudinal edges can be obtained.
Finally, the combined action of the secondary motors on
the weft threads and of the tensioning means of the warp threads coming from the
heddle frames enables ribbons of varying width to be produced by merely varying
the tension of the warp threads and the weft threads in an alternated manner, based
on parameters previously set in the control unit.