Different types of looms are most often defined by the way that the weft, or pick, is inserted into the warp. Many advances in weft insertion have been made in order to make manufactured cloth more cost effective. There are five main types of weft insertion and they are as follows:
Shuttle: The first-ever powered looms were shuttle-type looms. Spools of weft are unravelled as the shuttle travels across the shed. This is very similar to projectile methods of weaving, except that the weft spool is stored on the shuttle. These looms are considered obsolete in modern industrial fabric manufacturing because they can only reach a maximum of 300 picks per minute.
Air jet: An air-jet loom uses short quick bursts of compressed air to propel the weft through the shed in order to complete the weave. Air jets are the fastest traditional method of weaving in modern manufacturing and they are able to achieve up to 1,500 picks per minute. However, the amounts of compressed air required to run these looms, as well as the complexity in the way the air jets are positioned, make them more costly than other looms.
Water jet: Water-jet looms use the same principle as air-jet looms, but they take advantage of pressurized water to propel the weft. The advantage of this type of weaving is that water power is cheaper where water is directly available on site. Picks per minute can reach as high as 1,000.
Rapier loom: This type of weaving is very versatile, in that rapier looms can weave using a large variety of threads. There are several types of rapiers, but they all use a hook system attached to a rod or metal band to pass the pick across the shed. These machines regularly reach 700 picks per minute in normal production.
Projectile: Projectile loom utilize an object that is propelled across the shed, usually by spring power, and is guided across the width of the cloth by a series of reeds. The projectile is then removed from the weft fibre and it is returned to the opposite side of the machine so it can get reused. Multiple projectiles are in use in order to increase the pick speed. Maximum speeds on these machines can be as high as 1,050 ppm.