3D machine knitting: composite forms and illumination
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This practice-led research process investigates the design and construction of innovative textile sculptures made from three dimensional (3D) knitted composite materials, and how their unique material, structural and textural qualities can be expressed through integration with light. This project shows how established machine knitted 3D form and surface structure techniques can be learnt on manual, hand-flat knitting machines, translated through knit notation and design software, and produced on computerised and automatic knitting machine systems. Through this process, procedures to foster learning and research are discussed, and opportunities for creative design and innovation are identified in order to find a stimulating and productive work and research method. In the course of this research, a range of 3D surface knit textiles and several 3D structured knit textile patterns were designed and fabricated with composite materials. The resulting pieces were tested for suitability as sculptural display and with the incorporation of micro-controlled electronic lights to create e-textiles. The findings of this research suggest that unique and innovative textile designs can be created by experimenting and extending proven 3D knit techniques with different combinations of materials. The findings suggest potential applicability towards cross-disciplinary fields like engineering, architectural design, consumer products and artistic endeavours, as well as further research within textile design to explore new materials with the developing scope of 3D shaping techniques.