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Spinning Frame for Textiles Definition

The spinning frame is an Industrial Revolution invention for spinning thread or yarn from fibers such as wool or cotton in a mechanized way. It was developed in 18th-century Britain by Richard Arkwright and John Kay.

  • Sir Richard Arkwright (22 December 1732 – 3 August 1792) was an English inventor and a leading entrepreneur during the early Industrial Revolution. Although his patents were eventually overturned, he is credited with inventing the spinning frame, which following the transition to water power was renamed the water frame. He also patented a rotary carding engine that transformed raw cotton into cotton lap.  Arkwright's achievement was to combine power, machinery, semi-skilled labour and the new raw material of cotton to create mass-produced yarn.
  • John Kay was a clockmaker from Warrington, Lancashire, England, associated with the scandal surrounding invention of the spinning frame in 1767, an important stage in the development of textile manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution. Kay constructed the first known frame, and is one of the claimants to having been its inventor. He is sometimes confused with the unrelated John Kay who had invented the flying shuttle thirty years earlier.

Richard Arkwright employed John Kay to produce a new spinning machine that Kay had worked on with (or possibly stolen from) another inventor called Thomas Highs.

  • Thomas Highs (1718–1803), of Leigh, Lancashire, was a reed-maker and manufacturer of cotton carding and spinning engines in the 1780s, during the Industrial Revolution. He is known for claiming patents on a spinning jenny, a carding machine and the throstle (a machine for the continuous twisting and winding of wool).

With the help of other local craftsmen the team produced the spinning frame, which produced a stronger thread than the spinning jenny produced by James Hargreaves.

  • James Hargreaves (c. 1720 – 22 April 1778) was a weaver, carpenter and inventor in Lancashire, England. He was one of three inventors responsible for mechanising spinning. Hargreaves is credited with inventing the spinning jenny in 1764, Richard Arkwright patented the water frame in 1769, and Samuel Crompton combined the two creating the spinning mule a little later.

The frame employed the draw rollers invented by Lewis Paul to stretch, or attenuate, the yarn.

The roller spinning process starts with a thick 'string' of loose fibers called a roving, which is passed between three pairs of rollers, each pair rotating slightly faster than the previous one. In this way it is reduced in thickness and increased in length before a strengthening twist is added by a bobbin-and-flyer mechanism. The spacing of the rollers has to be slightly greater than the fiber length to prevent breakage. The nip of the roller pairs prevents the twist from backing up to the roving.

Too large to be operated by hand, the spinning frame needed a new source of power. Arkwright at first experimented with horses, but decided to employ the power of the water wheel, which gave the invention the name 'water frame'.

For some time, the stronger yarn produced by the spinning frame was used in looms for the lengthwise "warp" threads that bound cloth together, while hand powered jennies provided the weaker yarn used for the horizontal filler "weft" threads. The jennies required skill but were inexpensive and could be used in a home. The spinning frames required significant capital but little skill.

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