Knitting machinery sector has seen remarkable innovations and growth over past few decades and this growth is even promising in post-pandemic period, if a report from Global Industry Analysts Inc., is to be believed, that says the global knitting machines market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 27.40 per cent up to 2026. The market of knitting machines, in terms of quantities, is estimated to reach at 58.90 thousand units in 2020, and is projected to touch 260.70 thousand units by 2026.
The positive forecast is driven by a growing demand for advanced 3D knitting technology, automation and artificial intelligence capability, and not to wonder, the same took the centre stage in the recently concluded ITMA Asia + CITME exhibition in China. It’s true that digitisation has opened the doors of many possibilities of doing ‘sustainable’ business across industries and fashion & textile sector is also an adapter of the same. Not just in cutting rooms or sewing floors, digitisation has been in use in more complex processes such as knitting for a while, facilitating the work through the combination of process automation and data. This use of digitisation further helps knitted garment manufacturers attain four crucial parameters – more transparency, shorter response times, shorter production cycles and higher productivity.
Endorsing the idea of digitisation in knitting technology, the industry’s three bigwigs – Karl Mayer Group, Shima Seiki, and Santoni – utilised the platform to unfurl their newest innovations.
KARL MAYER Group rolls out plethora of digital innovations…
COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of the business enormously. The ones who have reacted quickly to the multitude of challenges and have considerably accelerated their development activities, especially in the field of digitisation, are the real winners. Therefore, endorsing the use of digitisation across both the warp and flat knitting sectors, the tech juggernaut KARL MAYER along with STOLL for the first time presented the latest technological developments in ITMA Asia + CITME which included new machines and an expanded range of gauges across warp, weft and flat knitting. Of all the innovations, we will discuss how KARL MAYER and STOLL raised hopes with their flat knitting solutions.
- Digitisation in flat knitting
With the acquisition of STOLL, KARL MAYER is now studded with knitting technology as well and the addition ensures maximum efficiency and productivity in flat knitting production with its benchmark ‘knitelligence’ Industry 4.0 platform that was launched back in 2019, during ITMA Barcelona and is touted as one of only few innovations worldwide in knitting sector that takes the users into the future of digitisation and makes it easier for the manufacturers to work on the required parameters.
Taking one step forward in the direction, the group launched a new design software k.innovation CREATE in the Asian exhibition that is one of the key modules of ‘knitelligence’ – to show visitors how to significantly simplify design development and speed up programming process.
k.innovation CREATE PLUS combines an advanced programming system with a user interface – that doesn’t take much efforts in learning – for optimum utilisation of knitting potential, and a production planning system (PPS) for rational management of all processes. Three networked knitelligence flat knitting machines – two ADF models and a new BMS 52 ki for the commodity market – were also up on display in the textile exhibition.
The new BMS 52 ki uses digital solutions from knitelligence and is termed a newcomer which will be seen producing individualised front parts for a kid’s sweater in a completely automated process. The designs and knitting program are created with the k.innovation CREATE PLUS. On the other hand, the ADF family was up on showcase and its ADF 830-24 ki knit & wear in the unique gauge of E10.2 garnered visitors’ attention. ADF 830-24 ki produces fine products with intarsia, inverse plating and Stoll-ikat plating, all thanks to the high needle pitch. The other model was ADF 330 ki which includes a variant with a 36 inches working width. This model is available as variant with 24 or 32 yarn guides and with STOLL-weave-in device. The machine will produce seamless and customisable footwear in a multi-gauge of E9.2.
MyKnit of Santoni raises expectations with MyKnit Platform…
Leading Italian knitting technology company Santoni has carved its own niche in circular kitting division in over 100 years and has come up with exemplary innovations time and again that have set the benchmarks for others to follow. During ITMA Asia + CITME 2021, Santoni showcased MyKnit platform prototype that is created in collaboration with Cimpress which specialises in mass customisation platforms.
Tagged as ‘Personalised from everywhere at any time’, the new MyKnit embraces Customer 2 Manufacturer (C2M) end-to-end model which offers high efficiency in circular knitwear supply chain solutions. With C2M model coming into play, the customers can personalise a product such as headband using this online portal/user interface. Once the order for this personalised headband is placed, using Santoni cloud services, a digital footprint is made and then the order is approved and sent to the manufacturer’s Santoni knitting machine Top2 which then takes just minutes to knit it.
According to Santoni, the quick delivery from order placement to production of the personalised products is possible because of its flexible advanced circular knitting technology that can offer personalisation in teamwear for sports, custom corporate events and more. Thrilled with the positive response from the end-users, Santoni may think of expanding its product lines and service options that will include varieties of clothing and home textiles.
‘Flat knitting + Digitisation’ is what Shima Seiki comes up with…
Being a leading flat knitting technology provider, Shima Seiki has always taken an onus on itself to produce machinery and software that work the best for the apparel and textile industry.
Through its exhibit theme – Step Beyond – Shima Seiki presented its vision of the future, while addressing a variety of solutions for the New Normal, including proposals in Factory Automation, Digital Transformation (DX), and various online solutions. According to the Japanese knitting tech giant, factory automation has become a necessity in the textile industry and the interest for the same has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At ITMA Asia, Shima Seiki made proposals for factory automation centered on the special manufacturing capabilities of its new-gen WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines in the form of two of the latest products MACH2XS and MACH2VS that can knit in one entire garment piece without the need for linking or sewing, and allow for on-demand knitting.
The flagship MACH2XS is touted as the most advanced flat knitting machine in the world, featuring proprietary four-needle bed and SlideNeedle technology combined with spring-type moveable sinkers and i-DSCS+DTC Digital Stitch Control System with Intelligence and Dynamic Tension Control, and capable of all-needle knitting of WHOLEGARMENT items.
On the other hand, MACH2VS is a flexible V-bed machine capable of knitting WHOLEGARMENT knitwear using every other needle, or conventional shaped knitting using all needles. It also features spring-type moveable sinkers and i-DSCS+DTC Digital Stitch Control System with Intelligence and Dynamic Tension Control. MACH2VS was presented in ultrafine 18G with auto yarn carriers as a prototype option. It’s worth noting here that MACH2XS and MACH2VS were shown for the first time in China.
As per the flat knitting bigwig, the large number of patents (over 2,700) for WHOLEGARMENT technology is not limited to mechanical hardware, but span the range of software and programming, as well as stitch structures and knitting techniques. A variety of WHOLEGARMENT knitwear samples featuring these patents were also presented at the Shima Seiki booth during the textile tech exhibition.
Further, ITMA Asia became a place for a sneak preview of Next-Generation 4-bed WHOLEGARMENT knitting technology. The new machine is named SWG-XR that adopts the SWG moniker from the first-generation WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine introduced back in 1995.
In order to further support efforts in digitalisation in the fashion industry, Shima Seiki stepped up and showcased three new online services as well: ‘APEXFiz’ subscription-based design software; ‘yarnbank’ digital yarn sourcing web service; and ‘SHIMANAVI’ e-learning service.
Read more about ‘SHIMANAVI’ e-learning service here – E-learning courses ease prevailing complexities for fashion students and freshers