Triaxial Weaving 

Triaxial weaving

Triaxial weaving produces material which is structurally superior to most sorts of rectangular weaving. Since the structural elements run in three directions, the resulting fabric is much more resistant to shearing forces.

Here are the two most common types of triaxial weaving:

Dense triaxial weave

This fabric has three layers of material at any point - and is thus stronger than a rectangular woven fabric made using the same elements.

Unfortunately, this fabric is relatively difficult to manufacture.

Sparse triaxial weave

This fabric is sparse. It typically has about a third of the structural elements of the first fabric.

One of the feature of this fabric that it has holes in it. While this makes it unsuitable for some applications, it does help with applications which require ventilation - such as ladies stockings, linen baskets or underwear.

Alternatively, it is appropriate where a light material is required - that is still very strong.

As far as I know, this sort of weave is the lightest simple weave known to man.

It also has the advantage of being pretty easy to manufacture.

More diagrams

These diagrams show what sparse triaxial weaving looks like on a larger scale:


Some calculations relating to triaxial weaving:

\ Density
Rectangular 2.00
Triaxial (sparse) 1.00
Triaxial (dense) 3.00
Diamond 2.00
Ribbon-based model

\ Density Sphere seive: cost Disc seive: cost
Rectangular 2.00 2.00 2.82
Triaxial (sparse) 1.73 3.00 3.46
Triaxial (dense) 5.19 3.00 3.46
Diamond 2.31 2.00 4.00
Hexagonal 1.15 1.00 1.15
Wire-based model

The figures are derived from models based on "ribbon" or "wire".

The "ribbon" is considered to be a material which is very wide in one dimension, while very narrow in another. The "wire" is considered to be a very thin, but highly inflexible material. In practice, most real materials will fall somewhere between these extremes.

Sparse triaxial weaving using ribbons typically uses 50% of the quantity of material to cover the same area as rectangular rectangular weaving - while dense triaxial weaving uses 150% of material to cover the same area.

If the material is ribbon-like the difference between rectangular weaving and triaxial weaving is dramatic. However - if the material is wire-like, there's not very much in it.

The "seive" costs were intended to determine whether it makes financial sense to build seives out of triaxial woven fabrics. Two sorts of seive were considered - based on whether the objects being seived were spheres or discs. The figure represents the material cost (per unit area) to prevent the passage of objects with diameter 1 unit.

The "Hexagonal" entry is not really a weave. It is impossible to construct it using continuous strands. The figures are given to allow comparisons with the ideal arrangement.

In summary: even if you ignore the problems caused by the variable-size pores; triaxial weaving probably makes little sense in this application.


What applications are suitable for using triaxial techniques?

The main selling points of triaxial weaving are:

  • Light weight;
  • Low cost;
  • Shear-resistance.
These are desirable traits for many applictations.

In particular, light shades, baskets and underwear seem particularly attractive applications for this sort of weaving.


Sparse triaxial weaving uses three sets of parallel fibres, known as the warp, the whug and the weft.

The whug is not present in conventional rectangular weaving. During construction it acts very much like a second warp.

The warp can be laid down in simple parallel lines. The whug is then laid down on top of it - again in simple parallel lines.

Finally the weft is woven in and out of both layers - to create the final fabric.


For many years triaxial fabrics were the subject of a patent:

See [here] for details.

This patent covers the "dense" form of triaxial weaving. It has now expired.

Medium triaxial weave

Medium triaxial weave

Here's a medium-density triaxial weaving pattern.

It is similar to the dense weave - but apparently not so symmetrical.

As with the other triaxial weaves, it should offer good shear resistance.


Tim Tyler | Contact |