Mechanical loom

Mechanical loom

Inv. 12593
Interpretation by Flavio Crippa, 2003

“The wheel of the first motion will have, to the right, two teeth for moving the two treadles. And to the left it will have only one tooth, for moving the ruffianella [intermediary wheel]. And the third wheel moved by the said ruffianella will have twelve teeth, of the same intervals and length as those of the ruffianella.” "This is second to the printing of letters and just as useful. It is worked by men, gives larger profits and it is a beautiful and clever invention."

Leonardo’s drawing represents the first mechanical loom ever conceived, and it was developed from the basis of examples observed in Tuscany and in Lombardy. The loom is arranged on two levels: the upper with the actual weaving devices and the lower with the organs for unrolling the warp and wrapping the fabric. The work is performed by a single operator who turns the crank and checks that the shuttle proceeds properly, that the fabric is under the proper tension, and that threads are not breaking. Leonardo represents an ingenious solution to the problem of unrolling the warp and wrapping the finished fabric, maintaining the necessary tautness on the threads and the cloth, and introduces the flying shutlle, automatically thrusted by a leaf spring system, which will actually appear in use only from 1733.

The model is based on the drawing:

  • Codex Atlanticus f. 985 r. (1495-1496)
    Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana