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Knitting / Apparel

Innovations In Knitting

Textile World looks at recent technological developments for seamless, float plating and technical textile applications.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Managing Editor

K nitting machinery manufacturers offer a range of technologies to answer the needs of end product manufacturers' constructions. Following are some recent developments in knitting technology from six leading machinery manufacturers.

Shima Seiki’s WholeGarment technology enables production of fully fashioned garments in one piece, with no sewing or linking required.

Seamless Technology

Interest in seamless knits has manufacturers in all segments - whether flat, circular or warp knitting - developing machinery to enable ever newer concepts to be produced. The apparel and therapeutic medical textile sectors are especially interested in seamless technologies. Apparel areas include activewear, outerwear, swimwear, lingerie, hosiery and shapewear. Medical applications include compression hosiery and a range of garments geared toward promoting wellness.

Shima Seiki Manufacturing Ltd., Japan: Shima Seiki's WholeGarment seamless flat knitting technology enables production of a garment in one piece, with no sewing or linking required. MACH2X, the latest model in the WholeGarment line, offers more than twice the productivity of previous versions.

"WholeGarment production utilizes 3-D shaping technology, which allows the garment to conform to the body for unprecedented fit and comfort," said Masaki Karasuno, Shima Seiki's creative director, noting the technology's labor-, time- and cost-saving benefits, including the possibility of on-demand knitting and mass-customization of knitwear; the ability of knitters to stay competitive with knitters in low-labor-cost countries; and resource savings because yarn consumption is limited to what is needed to make the garment.

Masaki said a MACH2X15L machine was shown at ShanghaiTex 2009, knitting a ladies' pleated pullover with structured design knit in 23 minutes, 19 seconds. "The MACH2X is capable of sustained knitting speeds of 1.6 meters per second, the fastest production specs for a flat knitting machine," Masaki added.

H. Stoll GmbH & Co. KG, Germany: Stoll has improved the productivity of its Compact Class CMS flat knitting machines, which are able to partially use different gauges on one machine without replacing needles or converting gauges. Intarsia knitting capabilities are standard on most models. The machines also offer short setup times, enabling quick changes and fulfillment of large orders.

Two new entry models include the CMS 502 and CMS 502 multi gauge, which feature two knitting systems, a 45-inch working width, take-down comb, cutting and clamping on the right side, yarn feed on the left side, moveable display slide, additional yarn control units, two adjustable plating yarn feeders, adjustable main take-down, increased productivity, and gauges ranging from E5 to E18.

Stoll also offers accessories and software solutions, including intarsia kits, plating yarn feeders and kits, a new ASCON® automatic stitch control yarn measuring device, and enhanced M1plus® pattern software.

Santoni S.p.A., Italy: New electronic seamlesswear circular knitting machinery from Santoni includes its patented SM8-TOP1 V and SM12-EVO3 single-jersey machines, and the SM9-MF double-jersey machine. Apparel applications include undergarments, outerwear, activewear, swimwear and sanitarywear.

SM8-TOP1 V features eight yarn feeds with one selection point per feed. SM12-EVO3 has 12 yarn feeds with three selection points per feed; and can process natural- and man-made-fiber yarns, and bare and covered elastic yarns. Both models offer optional terry capabilities; and enable high production of single body-size garments, and eight or 12 feeds of high-definition patterns with distinct colors, depending on the model.

SM9-MF is suitable for knitting ribbed garments in a continuous tubular fabric or single garments using one weft or separation yarn. The machine's needle-to-needle selection in three configurations on the cylinder and two on the dial, as well as transfer positions, enable production of all styles of ribbing and inlaid structures.

Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH, Germany: This warp knitting machinery manufacturer sees significant opportunities in the seamless market and has been expanding its activities in that area. The latest version of its DJ narrow Seamless Smart double bar raschel machines -the DJ 6/2 (EL), 44" - can produce a variety of seamless or virtually seamless products such as pantyhose and stockings, undergarments and sportswear. The machine features four ground guide bars - two more than the earlier-edition DJ 4/2, is available in gauges E 24 and E 28, and can be equipped with an electronic guide bar drive (EL) - which allows a high degree of patterning flexibility and enables very efficient processing even of small batches, the company reports.  It also features a jacquard system with two jacquard guide bars, piezo technology to control the jacquard needles, KAMCOS® control and monitoring system with Multi-Speed, and electronic beam drives.

"The number of orders has been better than expected since the DJ series was introduced," said Oliver Mathews, sales manager, Karl Mayer. "In the light of the current economic situation, companies are trying to improve their competitive edge by coming up with new ideas and trying new approaches. Our DJ 6/2 can help them to do this." 

Pai Lung's float plating technology produces knit fabrics that look like wovens and has applications for denim, suiting and corduroy fabrics.

Float Plating Technology

Pai Lung Machinery Mill Co. Ltd., Taiwan: Circular knitting machinery manufacturer Pai Lung offers its PL-KSFP four-track single-jersey float plating machine to produce a knit fabric that looks like a woven but has the feel and breathability of a knit. The technology, first developed for automotive seat cover fabrics, is now being used to produce denim, suiting and corduroy fabrics.

"Pai Lung developed and patented the structure using knit and float, using knit cams and sinker cams as well as sinkers to do a knit on one side of the fabric and a very tight float on the other. The float gives the woven effect. Depending on the cylinder cam arrangement, the machine has the ability to do one-, two- and three-needle floats," said Mike Moody, vice president of Monroe, N.C.-based Nova Knitting Machinery - joint partner with Pai Lung, and the company's exclusive representative in North and Central America and Colombia.

"The fabric has gone through extensive testing to measure air penetration, sewing strength recovery rates, durability and pilling. In all tests, the float plated fabric either matched or excelled beyond the woven results," he added.

Moody said a 26-inch-diameter 20-gauge machine can knit 900 to 1,000 pounds of 18/1 cotton thread in 24 hours. A lighter-weight polyester suiting fabric would be produced using a 24- to 28-gauge machine.

Technical Textile Solutions

Comez S.p.A., Italy: Comez, a maker of crochet knitting, warp knitting and narrow weaving machinery, lately has put a certain emphasis on technical textile solutions. Machines suitable for such fabrics include its ACO and ACOtronic crochet knitting, and double-needle-bed DNB/EL warp knitting machines.

ACO and ACOtronic machines are used to produce rigid and elastic technical textiles, ribbons and laces; and can process natural-fiber threads in the warp. Both feature compound needles, and are available in gauges ranging from 10 to 20 and in operating widths of 400 and 600 millimeters (mm).

The 410 ACO and 610 ACO machines feature eight weft bars controlled by link chain, and the BPO/S supplementary warp tube bar, which can function as a second warp bar to produce a lock-stitch effect on the fabric. The compound needles enable production of constructions such as simple or double lock-stitch when the BPO/S device is used with the standard warp bar, which is driven by Tricot/S cams.

The ACOtronic 400 and 600 machines feature 10 weft bars with electronic drive and one weft bar controlled by a weft device.

DNB/EL machines are used to produce sports equipment and food netting; high-resistance ribbons made with special fibers; fabrics and ribbons for automotive, construction, geotextile and industrial applications; medical textiles such as netting, bandages and dressings; and other products. The two needle beds enable production of double-faced articles that are identical on both sides.

The DNB/EL-800-8B offers an 800-mm working width and four, six or eight pattern guide bars. The DNB/EL-1270-12B features a 1,270-mm working width and 12 pattern guide bars. Both models feature electronic drives; use latch needles; can process any type of yarn, depending on machine gauge; and come equipped with the Data Control 4 Controller with color display. Comez Draw 4 or System.win software are used to program the pattern.

September/October 2009