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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 5

I 1788 - State Of The Art In Textile Technology

II Australian Textiles - The Early Days

III Australian Textiles - The 20th Century

IV Australian Textiles - To Date

V Acknowledgements



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1788 - State Of The Art In Textile Technology (continued)

The aim in carding -as today -was to separate fibres from the staple form as sheared. In 1788, hand-carding was still predominantly practised, but early carding machines were also in use. The hand-cards resembled hand-brushes in shape, the backs being made of stout card or wood about a foot long and five inches wide, and the fronts being fitted with short pieces of wire set in leather cover. The wool was spread in small quantities on one of the cards, and brushed and combed with the other until all the fibres were disentangled from the staples and crossed in every direction. The wool was then stripped off the card in soft fleecy rolls called 'slivers'. Originally the cards were held one in each hand, but then one of the cards was fixed and its size was also increased so that a greater quantity of wool could be spread on it. A still later improvement was to suspend the card from the ceiling, which relieved the operator from bearing its weight. These units were called stock cards.

Two types of carding machines had been developed in the 18th Century. The first, which was originally invented by Daniel Bourne in 1748 and resembles the modern roller card, had four revolving cylinders in contact, each faced with carding wire. The second machine -invented by Lewis Paul -comprised a cylinder with 20 lengthwise strips of card wire, to engage fixed cards in a concave hood. This is in fact the basis of today's modern flat carder used for cotton. On this machine, which was initially hand driven, the fibre was stripped from the roller with a needle-stick carrying close rows of projecting teeth.

Paul's carding machine was improved firstly by John Lees in 1772, who added a 'perpetual revolving cloth' on which the scoured wool was spread and then fed to the roller, and, secondly by Richard Arkwright, who in 1775 added the crank and comb. A subsequent modification (1785) -again by Arkwright -ensured a continuous carding by means of a comb joined to the cylinder and worked by a crank.

Whereas carding had been mechanised to some degree, combing was still completely hand-oriented, and, despite the efforts of Edmund Cartwright who in 1794 introduced the first combing machine, it was several decades into the 19th Century before combing machines achieved the required degree of perfection for widespread use. Three 'tools' were used in hand combing: a pair of combs, a post to which one of the combs was fixed, and a comb-pot or small stove for heating the teeth of the combs. The comb was a T-shaped piece of wood, with rows of long-pointed steel teeth along the head.

The products of woollen carding and worsted combing at this time were fairly thick strands of fibre loosely held together by cohesive forces, the differences being in the length and orientation of the fibres, as already explained. In order to turn a strand into a yarn, it had to be drawn out to make it finer, and twist then applied. Hand spinning wheels were, of course, still very much in vogue, although water -and steam-driven spinning machines had begun to make their impact.

A succession of inventions occurred through the 1730s to the early 1800s. John Wyatt and Lewis Paul developed a system of drawing by use of rollers. The roving (the hand drawn-out carded or combed sliver) was passed between a pair of rollers and led to a flyer and bobbin, whose rapid rotation twisted the yarn from the nip of the rollers. Two pairs of rollers were then applied, the second pair rotating faster than the first and thus drawing out the yarn. Later machines of this type had four pairs of rollers lined up in succession, and geared so that they revolved at progressively increased speeds. Thus, the fourth pair of rollers revolved five or six times as fast as the first pair, and the yarn was further drawn out at each stage.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 258, Online Edition 2000
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