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Knitting / Apparel

Knitters Gain FlexibilityandFunction

An in-depth look at advances and innovations for the knitting industry.


The knitting company in search of new offerings at ITMA was not disappointed since almost every knitting machine vendor provided practical innovations to advance the capability of producing knit fabric or garments.The overall theme of ITMA was one of increased flexibility, more multi-functional capability, effective use of computerization and electronics and the early approaches towards automated changeovers. However, at least two completely new knitting systems were introduced, and these offer exciting directions for the future. Circular KnittingMonarch Knitting Machine Corp. presented 12 circular weft knitting machines together with the computer aided design system to facilitate the preparation of the fabric design. Monarch introduced a new electronic Jacquard, four-color automatic striper with a separation facility-model V-LECNY5G.This machine, in 18-cut, 33-inch diameter and 48 feeds, is geared to produced fine-gauge sweater fabrics at a higher production rate than the fine-gauge flat machines according to Roger Hylton, director of technical services.This sector of the market has been active due to the consumer demand for lighter weight Jacquard-designed tops and sweaters according to Hylton.One model V-LECNY5G is on trial in the United States. The separation yarn is inserted at the end of a garment length and is subsequently removed prior to garment assembly.The idea of using a separation yarn is not new and has been in use on sweater machines for a long time.The innovation present is the fact that the separation facility is on an 18-cut (14 to 24 cut available) fully electronic machine equipped with four color stripers and it operates in four positions knit, miss, tuck and support according to Hylton.Monarch also introduced the Model V-LEC4D, a 20-cut, 30-inch diameter 48-feed machine with electronic Jacquard capability on both the dial and cylinder. Clearly, this technology is geared to produce fabrics with Jacquard capability on both the technical face and technical back of the fabric.Both David Pernick and Hylton explained the significant advantages of Jacquard capability on both dial and cylinder as almost endless range of structures and fabric developments together with a more balanced fabrics because of the reversibility of the fabric.Monarch knitting machines now come with electronic take-up that can be adjusted from outside and are equipped with a doffing light to alert the knitter that the machine is awaiting roll doff, according to Hylton.The other machines on display by Monarch have previously been available but have undergone some enhancements. It is worth noting several of these enhancements: Model V-LEC6, the three-position electronic Jacquard machine with RDS (Rotary Drop Cam) on the dial is now available as 60 feeds (rather than 48) to increase the productivity of Jacquard fabric production.Model VX-RDSY is a four-color automatic striper machine designed for short runs, re-knits and quick changeovers. With this model, Hylton explained that the striping section can be raised to make cleaning and working on the machine easier.Preparation of the fabric designs for Monarch knitting machines is available through the Monarch Design Systems-Knitworks.Knitworks runs on either Windows 95 or 98 according to David Matsil, account manager for Monarch Design Systems. The current version of Knitworks can interface with all the new machines being offered by Monarch. Elise Morton, sales executive for Monarch UK indicated that 14 of the Windows version were already working in the United Kingdom.Knitworks permits design creation and the subsequent conversion into the machine language for the knitting machine model being used. Knitting InnovationsCamber International showed several innovations in both single- and double-jersey knitting. Camber launched its new SJ E series of single jersey knitting machines. These machines offer three-way technique with individual electronic needle selection using specially-designed ceramic actuators.It was designed with electronic applications that have been successfully used on the RJ 72 E series of double jersey machines.Options within the SJ E line include cover wrapper, striper and wrapper-stripper versions, with total uniformity for both stitch configurations and and fabric compatibility across the range.
Camber's RJ 72 E3 machine offers a dramatic increase in production options by enabling the numerous surface effects made possible by the difference in 3-stitch variations to be included in the same garment length. Camber also offered the SJ M, a mini-Jacquard, which is available in the same wrapping and striping options and uses the same knitting elements so that it can be converted to the fully-electronic SJ E model if production needs increase.Camber also showed a 30-inch plush model and a striper machine (which was shown at Memmingers stand) of its well-established, high-output Quattro 3 single-jersey machine line.For double-knit jersey, Camber showed its RJE machine which can produce full Jacquard plush fabrics. The RJE has electronic needle selection with three-way technique using specially designed ceramic actuators. This allows the RJE to produce knit, tuck and miss stitch formulations while eliminating the need to change cams.Complex designs can be loaded through a floppy disk-drive. Integrated pattern creation, programming and storage features are also provided.The RJ M mini-Jacquard for double-jersey knitting was also shown. It is fully compatible with the RJE and can be converted if required.Vanguard Supreme, a division of Monarch Manufacturing, has converted all of its circular machines to a K-frame construction. The K frame is a solid, modular frame with built-in machine monitor, yarn-rate meter, oil-line management and lines up for roll doffing, according to Philip Renda, manager of research and development for Vanguard Supreme.All of Vanguards machines have Central Stitch Control and, as an option, machines can be equipped with Filter Flow, according to Renda.Filter Flow directs air through the needle and sinker sections to prevent accumulation of lint and debris as well as lowering machine temperature and improving needle life, especially when knitting open-end yarns. Consistent with Vanguards strategy of developing the basic machines as a compliment to the range offered by Monarch Knitting Machine Corp., four machine models were shown at ITMA: model KSA3R raceway machine with 3 feeds per inch, angular sinkers and a built in Filter Flow system; KS/1.5L terry/velour machine, designed for the production of plain terry, velour, feeder stripes, double fleece, chenille fabric and Lycra®-plaited structures; model 2SR2/V, two-track rib machine with 2 feeds per diametrical inch is designed to produce basic rib fabrics for underwear, Morgan thermal and raschel thermal, and elastomeric plaited fabrics; and the 2SR2/V, available in body sizes from 15-inch through 30-inch diameter.Renda also described the Model 4SJ4/HAC as the most productive of the four-track single-jersey machines operating continuously at a 1500 speed factor and also available in diameters ranging from 9 inches through 36 inches.The main application for the 4SJ4/HAC is for the production of plain jersey fabric for sportswear, underwear, T-shirts and feeder stripes, plaited fabrics, and Lycra fabrics. Vanguard has also introduced a broken hook detector that senses the position of the needle butts in the cam track. Renda explained that a needle without yarn follows a different path through the cam race and therefore permits detection.Harry Lucas Textilmaschinen showed a variety of circular knitting and circular- and flat-warp knitting machines including: the RR2-FB-105 circular knitting machine with Jacquard device for the production of two- or four-color curved fabric with a firm edge; the R-2s high performance circular knitting machine to cover inlays up to 400 revolutions per minute; the VEPA-G circular warp knitting machine for the production of bandaging material with elastic thread feeding for up to 100 spools; the RD-2s wire knitting machine with electronic thread control, needle head breakage control and fabric control; and the GTM knitting machine with stretching device through heated yarn-feed air-jet device with fixation for the knitted fabric which can work up to 100 spools.Tritex International presented six machines, five of which were new, for a variety of knitting and related applications.The HS950 is a new electronically controlled shaping and striping machine has been developed utilizing Tritexs TX950 machine. It incorporates computerized stripping and shaping.Designed for the production of fabric for end-uses as varied as medical bandages, ladies fashion tights and fruit and vegetable packing, the CW200 is a development from the CW100 two-ring, mechanical circular warp machine.A third patterning ring has been added with full electronic control and modifications have been made to the coupling of the positive feed and take down mechanisms. Software has been written to allow the machine to produce a variety of structures.The cylinder has 60 needles and of the three patterning rings two and a half are used enabling 150 yarns to be accommodated. There is an automatic stitch length adjustment and fabric roll-up on both models.The machine is built on a tubular steel frame similar to the CW100 model. Each pattern ring is controlled by a servomotor which provides full electronic control over the rings.The Warp V flat-warp knitting machine has been developed to meet the growing demand by trim producers to make fabrics with higher production speeds on a twin bed warp knitting machine but with the fabric having the appearance and characteristics of a flat trim.The machine has 5-12 needles per inch and operates at speeds of 400-600 courses per minute. The two eight-inch needle beds are mounted in an inverted V formation.Each pair of needles has an individual feed. The number of vertical strips is limited to the number of feeds due to the traditional V-bed orientation. 
Mayer and Cie showed an entirely new range of circular knitting machines for high-speed production of body-sized interlock/rib fabrics through to fully electronic Jacquard and robotically operated cam changes.Jim Pitts, regional sales manager for MayerandCie, explained the significant developments and enhanced fabric development opportunities.Model OVJA 2.4EA(3WT), displayed as a 72-feed, 30-inch, 28-cut machine operating at 22 rpm, used a switching robot to perform automatic dial cam setting in three positions.The switching robot reduces the changeover time when changing or re-knitting a fabric style, can reduce errors and de-skill the setup of the machine. Although the introduction of a robot to perform cam changes is currently exhibited for dial cam changing, this development offers an exciting potential for knitting machine operation in the future.Pitts explained the introduction of the OVJA 1.6EE fully electronic jacquard design and structures on both technical face and technical back. Shown as a 30-inch, 48-feed, 18-cut machine operating at 20 rpm, the OVJA 1.6EE offers almost unlimited design possibilities, according to Pitts.Mayer and Cie also featured a series of technologies to improve fabric quality. The MV-MAXI, shown as a 28-cut, 96-feed machine and available in diameters of 42, 48 or 54 inch was equipped to demonstrate how knitted fabric quality can be improved.The CONI-IN yarn measuring unit and CONI-TM yarn tension unit fed information to the host computer which calculated changes required and automatically adjusted the stitch length, quality wheel, tape tension and electronic takedown for the fabric style being knitted during the show. These improvements in quality adjustment combined with robotic cam setting, have substantially de-skilled the circular knitting machine and knit fabric producers should anticipate significant improvements in their operations as we look into the next century for circular knitting.Several machine vendors offered solutions for eliminating the center crease that is set in the fabric, especially when knitting elastomerics. Mayer and Cie showed a new spreader to cure the center crease that consisted of a ball inside the fabric at the take-down rollers together with tapered covers on the take-down rollers at the edges of the fabric.Other solutions offered by Mayer Industries and Vignoni Srl involved slitting the fabric and rolling the fabric as open width.In the case of Vignoni, two fabric rolls were formed on the fully electronic Jacquard single knit, 60-inch diameter VENIS-E machine according to Patrick Hobson of Speizman Industries.Terrot Strickmaschinen GmbH also offered a solution for center creases on its Model S296 where the fabric was slit on the machine a rolled up as open width goods.Terrot exhibited 12 machines, each featuring a new frame according to Franz Hudi, district sales manager for Terrot.The purpose of the new frame, according to Hudi, is to facilitate fast changes of machine gauge and to provide a low-maintenance operation. Terrot showed a new electronic transfer machine, Model UCC-54-T, with 32 knitting feeders and 16 transfer feeds. The dial is equipped with a drop cam system.Hudi explained that this machine provide endless opportunity for the fabric designer, such as the use of ground, elastomeric and Jacquard yarns at one feed to produce plaited Jacquard fabrics or obtaining a single-jersey plaited area then combined with a double jersey Jacquard effect.Terrot also introduced the Model UCC4F548, a 48-feed, 18-cut, fully electronic Jacquard machine equipped with 4 color stripers to offer the industry additional capability in fabric design. Orizio Paolo SpA and Marchisio SpA machines featured enhancements for the ITMA show according to Paisley Gordon, vice president, knit fabric division of Speizman Industries. Gordon said that Marchisio has developed a new high-speed (2200 speed factor) prototype machine for the production of single jersey. The new model V3N-V is currently an 18-inch diameter machine operating at 120 rpm and can knit a roll of fabric in 18 minutes, according to Gordon.
Orizio Paolo's MJD/CE circular knitting machine Sliver KnittingSliver knitting has been a stable fabric forming system for a long time and had reached a steady market and state of knitting science.However, ITMA showed renewed interest in sliver knitting by employing a method to knit-in all of the fibers than normally formed the pile on the fabric.Mayer Industries Vice President of Marketing, Earl Quay, explained the Fiberknit System as the most economical sliver knit production ever developed with a minimal fiber loss of 8-10 percent from greige to finished fabric.Quay cited the soft drape and hand of the fabric as exceptional and the 20-percent yarn/80-percent fiber yields a low-cost plain or patterned fabric for lightweight knitwear.Terrot showed their sliver knit model MKP 3 and Herbert Mueller of Terrot explained the range of products possible. These include technical textiles, toys, garments, interlinings and new opportunities by having the pile fiber knitted into the fabric by providing several alternating jets of air to weave the pile fibers into the path of the knitting needles. Pai Lung Machinery Mill Co. Ltd. estimates that in the year 2001, 50 percent of its revenues will come from non-clothing fabric knitting machines. Consistent with this direction, Pai Lung showed a range of ten machines geared towards upholstery, fish-net structures and technical textiles as well as clothing fabrics.Seven of the machines were fully electronic and three were basic machines according to Robert Chen and Jeffrey Wu of Pai Lung. Four of the Pai Lung machines represent unique electronic knitting technology, according to Chen. These machines are for the production of automotive fabrics (model PL-TSCJ3/FP-AP), megapile for upholstery and seats where the pile is cut on the knitting machine(model PL-tdMPCJ-AP), supermesh (model PL-TSEOJ/C3-AP) and a double-sided computer terry Jacquard machine (model PL-JSDPOJ-AP).  Flat KnittingShima Seiki Mfg. Ltd. introduced an entirely new range of knitting machines based on a new slide needle and called FIRST (Full-fashioning, Intarsia, Rib, Sinker and Transfer).According to Tony McBryan, manager of the knit division in the United States, Canada and Mexico, FIRST sets the direction for the next generation of flat knitting technology.The key development permitting the new technology, according to McBryan, is the slide needle. The slide needle acts as a compound needle but, in addition, the slide element can extend beyond the hook part of the needle for transferring and receiving loops.The major technical advantage of the slide needle, according to both McBryan and Toshio Nakashima, general manager for Shima Seiki, is that the slide needle is in the center of the trick which gives a balanced stitch and therefore better loop quality.It should be pointed out that most flat machines that perform transfer have the needle to one side of the trick to accommodate the transfer element.The new slide needle is expected to cost about the same as a flat knitting transfer needle, according to Henry Tio, president of Groz Beckert USA Inc. Exact costs had not been determined at the time of the ITMA show but Groz Beckert displayed the knitting action of the slide needle.Shima Seiki also promoted the concept of multi-gauge where the slide needle offers flexible adjustment of loop size regardless of gauge, according to Nakashima even while knitting a single garment.Such Gaugeless capability permits special garment effects especially when a single knit part of the garment is adjoining a part composed of double knit.Typically one machine can knit from 7 to 12 gauge. FIRST has been introduced into the market two months prior to ITMA and two machines are being tested at this time, according to McBryan.The FIRST machines with the four knitting beds (two needle beds and two transfer jack beds) are geared for the product of WHOLE GARMENTS and Shima Seiki demonstrated how complete complex garments could be formed on the FIRST machines.Additionally, Shima Seiki introduced the SWG-X machine with four knitting beds each housing slide needles.The SWG-X is still in a prototype stage with only one in operation for ITMA but this technology offers additional knitting opportunity that has yet to be developed according to McBryan. Stoll America Knitting Machinery, Inc. promoted its Knit and Wear technology available on the CMS 330TC multi-gauge machine. This technology is suitable for knit panels, pockets, etc, according to Richard Garret of Stoll. The multi-gage concept allows the knitter to work in ranges of 5-10, 6-12, and 7-14 based on gauges of 5.2, 6.2 and 7.2 respectively. Garret also pointed out the Stolls CMS 340 TC was exhibited in 20 cut and represented the only 20 cut flat machine with full electronic capability on the market.
Stoll's CMT 211 uses semi-jacquard options to create a wide range of knitted fabrics. New technology to permit different stitch settings on adjacent stitches was available on Stolls model CMS 330TC/2, a feature important for the more complex designs, according to Garret.In the area of trims, Stoll introduced the model CMT 211, a new machine that, according to the company, will provide a lower cost knitting solution for trims for golf shirts, etc.Overall, the knitting machine vendors at ITMA showed a lot of innovations that will stimulate the knit fabric sector well into the next century.

September 1999



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