Arkwright's carding machine, 1775.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This machine, reputedly from Sir Richard Arkwright's (1732-1792) Crompton Mill, was made in 1775 but is based on the cylindrical carding machine patented by Daniel Bourne in 1748. Carding is the proces used to comb and distentangle fibres in preparation for drawing and spinning. The cotton was ginned and beaten then fed onto the feed roller. Its wire teeth lay hold of the fibres and carry them round to the main roller. This has a surface speed 80 times that of the feed roller, and thus combs and straightens the fibres. The third roller, or doffer, moves at 1/10th of the speed of the main roller but, as its teeth are set in the opposite direction, removes the cotton from the main roller. A reciprocating comb takes the carded cotton from the doffer and delivers it in strips or 'slivers'.