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A late 19th century cotton spinning frame built by Whitin Machine Works, Whitinsville, Mass.

The spinning frame was an invention developed during the 18th century British Industrial Revolution. It was later developed into the water frame (patented in 1768), and was used to increase production of textiles in factories.

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

A thick 'string' of cotton roving was passed between three sets of rollers, each set rotating faster than the previous one. In this way it was reduced in thickness and increased in length before a strengthening twist was added by a bobbin-and-flyer mechanism.

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'.


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