Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
When weaving on a loom, the shuttle carries the yarn that forms the weft through the fibres of the warp. When weaving was performed on a handloom, the width of cloth that could be woven was restricted by the reach of the weaver, and required the use of two hands. Two weavers were needed to operate larger looms. The flying shuttle enabled the weaver to propel the shuttle through a wider strip of cloth with a single hand, and allowed the other hand to perform the combing to compact the cloth. This speeded the process and thus increased production.
With increased speed and production, the demand for yarn rose, and thus this early invention spurred the textile industry in Great Britain. Initially, production outstripped supply, and weavers were put into competition for the limited supply of yarn. The technology was seen as a threat because of this, and Kay's innovation led to machine wreckers attacking his property. Kay also suffered because his invention was used by others without his getting any royalties: the trials that he faced led him to leave for France, and he died without getting any lasting benefit from his invention.
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