Introduction to SDS-ONE APEX (R)

The powerful SDS-ONE APEX complete design system can be used to program designs as well as plan and design an entire range.

The SDS-ONE APEX virtual sampling component generates Wholegarment® 3D simulations of garments, allowing the garment to be shown on screen before knitting, easily creating different colour-ways and yarns on the simulated garment.

There are two methods of programming, the manual method and the automatic method. The manual method allows the programmer to enter all the specifications for a particular garment into the machine’s software program and create a unique garment. The automatic method allows a wide variety of garments to be easily generated by the machine, utilising pre-programmed shapes.

The automatic method can be used to focus on either knitting priority or silhouette priority. Selecting silhouette priority enables the program to give priority to the shape of the design; complicated designs and shapes can be more difficult to knit on the machine and a take longer time to produce.

Knitting priority gives priority to knitting time and efficiency, thus more cost effiective.

If a basic garment is required then the automatic method is the most appropriate for programming. There are a variety of different automatic programs available within the KNIT PAINT component of the SDS-ONE APEX system. Generating an automatic program for simple garments is faster than manual programming.

Both automatic and manual programs can be used in conjunction in one design to save time generating the program. Manual programs can be used for complicated or unique design, and an automatic program for the basic design. For example, for a garment with a hood, a basic cardigan shape can be produced using the automatic options of the software and then a hood can be designed by creating a manual program and then added onto the basic cardigan shape.

The KNIT PAINT WHOLEGARMENT® program makes use of layers to allow changes, similar to the way layers are used in Photoshop®. The garment program is developed on a base pattern, then expanded so the base pattern becomes a compressed pattern. The front and back of the garment are on the one pattern, if structure is added to the front body then it needs to be done on the base pattern and not on the compressed pattern. If changes are made on the compressed pattern they also need to be manually made on the front and back. The compressed pattern is on a different layer to the base pattern, allowing it to be modified without affecting the base pattern. KNIT PAINT® allows the programmer’s changes to be on the base pattern made automatically on the compressed pattern. The compressed pattern automatically adjusts the transfer stitch directions to enable the front of the sleeves to be copied and pasted onto the back of the sleeves without manually changing the directions. Stitch structures within the garment should only be drawn on the front and back of the body on the compressed pattern and not on the base pattern. The front and back should have exactly the same shaping as the base pattern.

Seamless knitwear technology is based on three tubes being knitted alongside each other simultaneously – sleeve, body, and sleeve. There are many different options for connecting the body to the sleeve and bind offs depending on the requirements of the garment. The bind off is used to finish an edge i.e. binding off the neck trim diminishes the need for waste yarn and the need for further finishing after the garment is knitted; therefore, the garment is completed on the machine. There are six methods for connecting the body and sleeve.  There are different types of connections to suit the different types of structures used on the garment – depending the type of structure used the method of connection will be determined. For example, the 1 x 1 rib connection technique results in a strong and flexible join. In general, Shima Seiki recommends the C + D connection for the body and sleeve, this connection optimises the stitch, strength and knitting difficulty for the best quality and knitting time.

A jacquard pattern allows knitted fabrics to incorporate a coloured or structural pattern. There are two options to generate the jacquard program either using the Free Colour Package or the Paint Colour Mode. The Free Colour Package creates a basic package for each colour used within the garment program, two-colour jacquards require two types of base patterns to be created for one package base pattern. Paint Colour Mode develops basic packages for each colour combination in one line of the base pattern. If there are many colour combinations in the garment one package needs to be created for each variation, which can be time consuming and require a lot of effort.

All over jacquard patterns with two colours throughout the design, or two colours for each course, with a total of three colours throughout, can be knitted easily. However, if very fine yarn is used it is possible to have more colours. The use of automatic software limits the jacquard to be on the body only and not the sleeves; however, by creating the pattern manually, the jacquard can be placed anywhere on the garment, including the sleeves.

When stripes are knitted into a seamless item, loose ends of yarn remain where the yarn has travelled in and out of the knitting area. Each time the colour is changed, the remaining loose yarn end needs to be sewn in after the knitting of the garment is completed on the machine. To avoid loose yarn ends on each stripe, the yarn in position and the yarn out of position can be made at different sides with a tuck stitch before carrying the yarn out.

Buttonholes can be knitted into seamless garments, however, the fabric cannot be overlapped unless the garment is knitted horizontally. Intarsia is possible although the cost can be very high because the length of knitting time is dependant on the number of needle actions the  program requires. The program then needs  to be adjusted for each size – simple intarsia does not require extensive programming time, however, complicated designs do, thus increasing the overall costs.

The machines used to produce seamless garments knit the back course first and then the front course in a clockwise direction. The front of the garment is knitted in the left direction and the back in the right. C knitting is used to knit cardigans, hoods, v-necks or any occasion when the back neck drop is lower than the shoulder. When the machine is knitting in a ‘C’ shape, this is called C knitting. Please see image below. If the back and the front are knitted using C knitting the definition of the shoulder drop is lost therefore it is beneficial to bind off the shoulder which results in a nice neat finish. If every row is C knitted, every stitch is closed and as a consequence the shoulder an extremely steep drop. Alternatively, if the shoulder is narrowed then the bind off performed the operator has more control over the gradient of the shoulder drop. In order for the take down to be maintained and the fabric supported during bind off a pick up stitch on the edge of the shoulder is sometimes required.

C KNitting seamless knitting v neckThis diagram shows movement of the carriage to knit the opening of a wholegarment. 

The maximum a Wholegarment® machine can rack is 1.5” in the left and right directions, making a total of 3”. The machines rack much wider than a shaping machine and allow for a more dramatic shape to be created, such as the shoulder shape. 2nd Stitch allows the loop size of the one stitch in the same row before the transfer to be larger so it can easily be transferred on wholegarments.

The approach taken by a designer and a programmer when constructing a knitted garment can be very different. The designer needs to have the basic knowledge of knitting to communicate with the programmer in the right language; communication between the programmer and the designer is essential at every stage. Designers familiar with aspects of programming and the basics of knitwear are more likely to have a dialogue with the programmer that is quick and more efficient. It enables the designer to direct the programmer to use other approaches and methods, pushing the boundaries and not staying within the rules that the programmer may be accustomed to. Highly experienced programmers are important in order to resolve any design challenges that a designer may pose, even if it is out of the ordinary. Therefore, a designer with some knowledge of knitwear techniques and a highly experienced programmer are often the best combination for quick, efficient and innovative product development.