Coarse wool is underutilised in India. A braiding machine converts the group of yarns into a tubular fabric form of small circumference; say P M Suman, N Shanmugam, Sekhar Das, S M K Naqvi.


With 46.7 million kg of wool produced annually, India is the tenth-largest producer of the fibre. More than 50 per cent of this is coarse wool like Deccani, Marwari, Malpura, Patanwari, and Sonadi. Sheep rearers are not getting the value of coarse wool. Most attempts so far focused on older methods blending coarse with fine wool and spinning using the charkha. The traditional ways of producing products from coarse wool are on their way out due to product quality and high cost. Also, coarse wool products feel rough and shed fibre as they are used. So, an attempt is being made to use braiding to produce various quality products using coarse wool.


Salient Features of braiding machine

A braiding machine weaves strands of yarns to form rope, reinforced hose, covered power cords and some types of laces. Generally, cotton, polyester and nylon yarns are used for producing these products. In our country, horn gear braiding machine is widely used and it is vertically oriented. The braided thread is taken up above the machine and the height and diameter of a guide ring determines the characteristics of the braided products to some extent.


In a horn gear braiding machine, there are even number of spindles. Each consists of two verticle columns and one peg adjoined at the lower end. One column of spindle holds a bobbin of thread while the other column guides the thread to the guide ring maintaining proper tension with the help of an iron weight.


Plastic spindles are moved on tracks shaped like a sinusoid by horn gears through a peg. The horn gear consists of a spur gear and a notched disk. The spur gear is connected to a notched disk at the bottom with a hollow shaft. These horn gears are covered with the track plate. In each horn gear, two or more plastic spindles are mounted.


Bobbins have a serrated surface at the top with a guide to move in a stop-start fashion so that it can prevent the thread becoming too loose while unwinding. All threads are braided due to the sinusoidal motions of the bobbins and taken up slowly by the winding roller arranged atthe top of the machine. An even number of bobbins and horn gears are always used in horn gear braiding machine. There are many types of horn gear braiding machines: 8 spindles, 16 spindles, 24 spindles and 32 spindle, depending upon the number of bobbins in the braiding machine. The machine used in this study has 16 spindles.


The mechanism of horn gear braiding machine is simple and robust, but the production speed is limited. Now, automatic high speed braiding machines equipped with Programmable Logic Control (PLC) are available.