Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making New Tools

In winding the last beam, I learned a lot about the process. I've been thinking a lot about ways to speed it up and give a better result. In this case, that means higher and more even tension.

The first thing I noticed on the last beam was how much time I spent unthreading and rethreading the device that I use to feed from the cones. This extra work happened because I reverse the order of the cones after every section to keep the pattern mirrored on the center line.

I brainstormed and found a way that I wouldn't have to rethread the screen or reverse the cones by hand. The new cone rack is on wheels so I can just turn it around. The screen is attached to it so I don't need to unthread when I reverse. Instead, I just turn the rack, tilt the screen, and get back to work.

This will save at least 15 minutes per section, 7.5 hours total.

You'll notice that my 40 cones leave lots of extra space on the device. I'm considering another way to speed up: wind two sections at once, 80 threads altogether. I made the device big enough to handle that if I want it to.

The last beam had tension issues. There is a chance that they came from the beam itself. If this turns out to be the case, I'll pull the beam apart and reinforce it after this batch of cloth. There's also the chance that my loose winding was the cause. The tension box wasn't able to provide very much or very consistent tension.

I built this box several years ago and can hardly believe it has lasted this long. It's near the top of my "tools to replace" list when I have the money.

For now, though, I just modified it again. I added two threaded collars so I can insert two more pegs between the others. This will bring the thread into contact with 6 pegs instead of 3, and should more than double the tension. I'll find out right away if this is too much and back it off if I need to.

The last beam was so soft that I think I'll get at least another 25% on this beam by increasing the tension. That would be 100 yards instead of 80, and would go a long way toward paying for the huge startup cost on each beam.

Once I get into my first sales season, these tools should pay for themselves. I've built them as another investment in the future. The time I spent making them will come back to me with just a few weeks of higher productivity.

No comments: