Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists have developed a system that can translate a wide variety of 3-D shapes into stitch-by-stitch instructions that enable a computer-controlled knitting machine to automatically produce those shapes.
Researchers in the Carnegie Mellon Textiles Lab have used the system to produce a variety of plush toys and garments. What's more, this ability to generate knitting instructions without need of human expertise could make on-demand machine knitting possible, according to James McCann, assistant professor in the Robotics Institute and leader of the lab.
McCann's vision is to use the same machines that routinely crank out thousands of knitted hats, gloves and other apparel to produce customized pieces one at a time or in small quantities. Gloves, for instance, might be designed to precisely fit a customer's hands. Athletic shoe uppers, sweaters and hats might have unique color patterns or ornamentation.
"Knitting machines could become as easy to use as 3-D printers," McCann said.
That's in stark contrast to the world of knitting today.