3D Weaving: Manufacturing, Calculation and Application

Last Updated on 28/08/2022

What is 3D Weaving?
3D Weaving is a complete new concept in case of weaving. The first method of 3D woven fabric denotes 3 Dimensional fabric, that is length, width and breadth. In 3 Dimensional fabrics, the thickness is an important criterion. Ordinary fabrics also have length, width and breadth, but in the 3 Dimensional fabrics, the thickness is much more than ordinary fabric. The thickness is achieved by forming multiplayer using multi series of warp and multi series of weft, which are intersecting at regular 90° angle as in usual cloth weaving principle.

3D weaving

2D weaving has the potential of producing woven fabrics on an areal basis, whereas 3D weaving can produce fabrics on a volumetric basis, which is more suitable for advanced textile composite applications. 3D weaving leads the way to designing nearnet-shaped preforms that can offer structural integrity and ease of handling during composite manufacturing by reducing the number of individual parts and improving the assembly technique.

3D weaving method has been used to produce various 3D fabrics of rectangular section, such as L-shaped, T-shaped, etc. It also can produce tubular fabric while adopting specific shedding pattern.

It cannot be performed with existing traditional methods and machines. It interlaces a multiple layer warp with multiple horizontal wefts and multiple vertical wefts producing directly shell, solid and tubular types of fully interlaced 3D fabrics with countless cross-sectional profiles.

First demonstrated in 1997, Dual-Directional (D-D) Shedding System is indispensable for performing 3D-weaving. This path breaking development has advanced the technology of weaving to a new dimension for the first time in its more than 27000 years of history.

Manufacturing Technology of 3D Weaving:
Woven fabrics can be produced in two dimensions or three dimensions. 2D fabrics are produced by interlacing warp and weft at 90°. Though the design of the fabric can be varied using different interlacement pattern e.g. plain, satin, twill etc. 2D fabrics are light weight and have low production cost, which makes their usage very economical. Plain, satin, and terry are common examples of 2D woven fabrics. Their low production cost and light weight make their use economical and practical.

In addition to warp and weft, 3D weaving uses an additional third z-yarn. Z-yarn runs through the thickness and acts as the binder. The z-yarn provides dimensional integrity by interconnecting the warp yarns and weft yarns through the thickness of the fabric. 3D woven fabric can be produced by 3D and 2D weaving machines. Orthogonal, multilayer, and angle-interlock are the most widely used structures in 3D woven fabrics. They offer better delamination resistance and damage tolerance than the laminates with 2D woven reinforcement.

3D fabric consisting 3 different sets of yarns; warp yarns (y-yarn), weft yarns (x-yarn), and (z-yarn) while Z-yarn is placed in the through-thickness direction of the preform is known as 3D woven fabric. 3D fabrics can be produced via weaving, knitting, and non-weaving processes. The 3D fabric could be formed to near net shape with considerable thickness.

Weave structure of 3D fabric
Figure: Weave structure of 3D fabric

Special looms are required to operate the warp threads in 60º angle for weaving 3D or 3 Directional fabrics. But the 3 Dimensional or 3D fabric can be woven by using ordinary loom with usual weaving principle shedding, picking, beating – by having multi layers of warp and multi layers of weft. Even though the treble cloth with 3 series of warp and weft could be called 3Dm fabrics, in general, minimum 4 series of warp and weft are used in weaving to form several layers, one above the other to get the sufficient thickness resulting into 3 Dimensional fabrics.

As per the principle of weft Tapestry fabric, to weave 3Dm fabrics, it is required to use one series of stitching warp and multi series of separating warp as per the number of layers to be formed.

As seen from the cross section, the stitching warp passes from top to bottom and bottom to top but all the separating warp lies almost straight and hence the stitching warp takes up more length than the separating warp. Therefore, the stitching warp is brought from a loose tension beam and the entire separating warp is brought from another normal tension beam.

The following points are to be understood from both the cross sections:

3d weaving structure

The first layer weft (Face) – shown as “a” – lies between the stitching warp (shown as 1) and first separating warp series (shown as 3).

The second layer of weft (Middle) – shown as “b”- lies between the first and second separating warp series (shown as 3 and 4).

Calculation of 3D Weaving:
When designing 3D textile preforms for the composite industry, often the textile engineer is required to calculate the 3D preform construction from a cured composite specification, supplied by the composite manufacturer or the end user. The composite design engineer typically supplies the textile engineer with the following information about the cured composite:

  • Cured Composite Part Thickness (CPT)
  • Fibre Volume (Vf)
  • Fibre Orientations or Fibre Percentages (%X, %Y, and %Z)
  • Fibre Type/Fibre Density (ρf)/Fibre Linear Density (yard/lb)

Many times the end user will not have all items specified, and it is up to the textile engineer to understand the composite part requirements in order to recommend a suitable preform construction. In particular, the fiber linear density is a variable which needs close review by the textile engineer. For high performance composite applications, the composite design engineer may specify fine denier fibers that exceed the jacquards capacity or worst yet, are physically impossible to weave. If there is a problem with the customer’s supplied specification(s), the textile engineer must find a solution, often making compromises between performance and manufacturability.

To find out 3D preform construction for each direction (X, Y, Z directions), the areal weight (AW) is first calculated by the following equation, and then multiplied by the specified fiber volume fraction percentage and fiber yield.

Areal weight (lb/in2) = Cured part thickness (CPT) x fiber density (ρf) x fiber volume

Where, Areal weight (AW) in lb, cured part thickness in inch, density (ρf) in lb/in3, and fiber volume in %.

Fibres required in each direction = Areal weight x fiber volume fraction x fiber yield x 36

Where, fibers in each direction in inch, areal weight in lb, fiber fraction in %, fiber yield in yards/lb.

By using the above equations, the total ends per inch (EPI) and total picks per inch (PPI) and Z fibers are easily calculated. Depending on the weave pattern and fiber crimp, the 3D preform construction may need adjusting. The number of warp layers and fill layers depend on the Jacquard harness configuration and other factors.

Application of 3D Woven Fabric:
The most important application of 3D woven fabric in composite industry, where they are used as reinforcement materials in combination with several matrices to make textile structural composites.

A new method has been developed for the manufacture of bifurcated prosthesis used in medical applications and they are used to replace the defective blood vessels in patients so as to improve blood circulation.

The 3D fabrics have recently entered the medical field. Their specific area of application is in the weaving of vascular prosthesis. Vascular prosthesis is surgically implantable materials. They are used to replace the defective blood vessels in patients so as to improve blood circulation. Conventional types of prosthesis were made from air corps parachute cloth, vignon sailcloth, and other types of clothing materials.

Materials such as nylon, Teflon, orlon, stainless steel, glass, and Dacron polyester fiber have been found to be highly suitable for the manufacture of prosthesis. These materials were found to be significantly stable with regard to resistance to degradation, strength, and were not adversely affected by other factors. Dacron polyester, which has bio-compatibility and high tensile strength, is being used over a period of time as suture thread or artificial ligaments.

You may also like:

  1. 3D Fabric: Features, Classification, Production Method & Uses
  2. Application of Woven Fabrics in Technical Textiles
  3. What is Composite | Textile Structural Reinforced Composites

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