We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Power Loom?

By C. Wilborn
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A loom is a tool used for weaving yarn into textiles. There are many types of looms, including the hand loom, frame loom, and shuttle loom. A power loom, yet another type of loom, is a mechanized tool that uses a drive shaft for power. Invented by Edmund Cartwright in Great Britain in 1784, the power loom allowed manufacturers to create textiles much more quickly than with hand-driven looms. This improvement helped the power loom become one of the defining machines of the industrial revolution.

A loom works by holding lengthwise threads, called the warp, under tension. The vertically-oriented threads are attached to two or more harnesses which move up and down, separating warp threads from each other and creating a space called the shed. Another thread, called the weft, is wound onto spools called bobbins, which are placed in a shuttle and passed through the shed, which creates the weave. In the early 20th century, the shuttleless loom, also known as the rapier loom, was invented. This type of power loom moves the weft through the shed using jets of air or water, steel rods, or a dummy shuttle that leaves a trail of yarn rather than using a weft.

The Jacquard Loom, introduced around 1803, used punch cards to allow the loom to create complex patterns in the weave, and is seen as a precursor to concepts of computer programming. A series of inventors made other improvements, culminating with the Lancashire Loom, a semi-automatic loom invented by James Bullough and William Kenworthy in 1842. The Lancashire Loom produced a higher quality cloth for less cost than hand weaving, and was widely used into the 20th century.

The development of power looms in the early 19th century was a major driver of the Luddite movement, as some British artisans feared their livelihoods would be destroyed by the new technology. Wages in the textile industry dropped, and more lower-skilled workers were hired to run looms. Luddites protested by destroying looms and wool and cotton mills. In 1812, the British government passed the Frame Breaking Act, which made industrial sabotage punishable by death. A number of executions took place in 1812, and sporadic violence continued, but the movement ceased activity in Britain by 1817.

The power loom was brought to the United States in 1813 by Francis Cabot Lowell, who memorized plans for the machine because export of the technology from Great Britain was illegal. Lowell worked with Paul Moody to make additions and improvements to the power loom, and in 1814 established the Boston Manufacturing Company mill in Waltham, Massachusetts, the first textile mill in America to combine all actions for turning raw cotton into cloth under one roof.

While power looms are mechanized looms, the source of the power that allows them to operate varies. Originally these looms were powered by water, but after some time that morphed into steam power and eventually air powered and electricity powered looms were created.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By obsessedwithloopy — On Apr 03, 2009

I suppose these days computer programmed looms are available.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.