About AdaCAD

AdaCAD is a project of the Unstable Design Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder ATLAS Institute that aims to support the requirements of what we call "experimental weaving" but that has basic functions to support all weavers.

What is Experimental Weaving?

Experimental weaving is a mentality more than a set of materials or practices. We see an experimental weaver as someone who considers structure, material, cloth, and artifact in tandem. At times, this leads us to investigate metallic yarns for the purposes of handweaving sensors and interactive systems. At other times, it might mean adding bio-compoments to different sections of the weave to support different material changes over time.

How Does AdaCAD Support Experimental Weaving?

We, the developers of AdaCAD, identify as experimental weavers and we started making this tool for ourselves. We were curious how we could think through weave structures as a form of mathematical operation or sequence of operations that have different effects on the mechanics and visuals of the resulting cloth. We often integrate conductive yarn into our weaves, so we were especially interested in modes of woven design that could support a conceptual understanding of a weave as a kind of circuit. As we grow and develop the tool we have been adding features that prioritize the following:

  • designing weave structures with multiple weft and warp systems
  • allowing the design file to serve as its own documentation
  • using design vernacular and produres from both weaving and engineering

AdaCAD is a Living Project made by Researchers

We, the developers, are not a company looking to sell our product. Instead, we found an interest in building our own tools to support our practices and want to make them usable by groups beyond our lab. Making the tools, learning weaving, and working at the intersection of craft and engineering has led us to see how craft practices (interpreted as learning from materials, cultivated skill, humble practice) can foreground new value in innovation work. Specifically, we think the deep knowledge of material and structure by fiber artists and weavers can led to new, more sustainable and symbiotic, developments of technologies in the area of soft robotics, wearable computing, and composites. Alternatively, we see how the concepts of engineering can provide a defamiliarizing lens to our weaving practices.

AdaCAD is an Libre / Open Source Project

We were inspired by open source projects like Processing, Arduino, and Open Frameworks and want to offer AdaCAD as an equivalent for weavers. It will take us time to realize this vision, but we are exited about it and always willing to support those who want to help. The code is all available on Github and you are welcome to fork it and make your own version of AdaCAD. Our liscence on the code allows for free use and distribution, but does not allow closing the software and selling it.

Related Resources
Experimental Weaving Resdiency

A mostly-annual open call for artists in residence at the Unstable Design Lab.
More Information

Open Code

Want to do some creative coding within AdaCAD to realize some new designs?
Fork AdaCAD on GitHub


Curious To Read some of our Research on Experimental Weaving and Smart Textiles:
Read Craftspeople as Technical Collaborators Read the Original AdaCAD Paper