Seamless Technology

SEAMLESS TECHNOLOGY @ ITMA 2012 

Seamless knitted garments can be produced by Circular, Warp, weft or flat bed knitting.

Circular Knitting

Circular knitting produces garments made by single jersey electronic circular knitting machines. Circular knitted seamless garments include underwear, outwear, swimwear, sportswear and sanitary garments. The term ‘circular’ covers all weft knitting machines that have needle beds arranged in circular cylinders. The machines have a cylinder and dial arrangement, either single or double cylinder.

Circular Knitting Machine The term ‘circular’ covers all weft knitting machines that have needle beds arranged in circular cylinders.

Santoni’s machines are body size circular knitting bed machines capable of producing shaped panels; the machines are usually between 10–24 inches in diameter. This is a fixed diameter; however, the size can be adjusted through the use of different knit structures such as a knit, purl or tuck. A wide variety of fabric structures, garments, hosiery and other products can be produced in a variety of diameters on circular knitting machines. Stitch structures such as tucks, floats, and false ribs are used to modify the shape of a tube, the lengths of stitches or unbalancing the structures can also have an effect. Sanotni garments are knitted as tubes, producing seamless sleeveless garments; therefore, these machines are frequently used to create intimate garments. In cases where sleeves are necessary, the sleeves are knitted separately then sewn on after the knitting process. The process of producing a sleevless garment requires aditional processes however the knitting part of the process is significantly quick. Some Santoni machines can also create intarsia garments using a similar technique to that used on flat bed knitting machines, the technique of one- to four-needle overlap or tuck joins.

Santoni’s Mecmor compact is an open panel circular knitting machine that is recognised as the most complete circular knitwear machine. Santoni considers that circular knitwear production is vital in creating a complete well equipped knitting mill – as the circular machines have an very quick production time and very high productivity of fine gauge garments.

The world premier of the electronic double knit circular machine SM6 RIB 2 with six feeders was at International Textile Machinery Association (ITMA) 2012. The machine produces fine quality causal or sportswear at a high production. A variety of fashion styles are available and the SM6 RIB 2 was specifically designed to manufacture garments with true rib borders. This technology is focused towards causal and leisurewear. Santoni had five new machines on display at ITMA, among them were two prototype SDW8 double needle-bar Raschel knitting machines.  This machine has a working width of 1118 cm (44 inches) and a gauge of 24 needles per inch. To demonstrate the machine’s capabilities, two seamless garments were being knitted side by side, each set knitting one after the other in a chain formation, which would later be cut to separate each garment. The sleeves are knitted integrally, reducing both knitting time and yarn wastage.

Warp Knitting machine Santoni seamless knitwear

Two seamless garments side by side, each set knitting one after the other in a chain formation, which would later be cut to separate each garment.

Circular knitting can also produce fashion garments; however, there are limitations due to the different techniques used to achieve the seamless garment. Generally, circular knitting machines have a fixed diameter, therefore a factory would require more machines to make a wide range of sizes. Circular knitting seems to be most popular when producing sportswear and activewear, beachwear and undergarments.

Another method of producing seamless knitted garments is Warp knitting. Seamless warp knitting uses two opposing needle bars equipped with compound needles, yarns are fed by moving guide bars. Karl Mayer pioneered this technology; however, Santoni have recently developed a similar type of technology, the SWD6/2 J and SWD4/2 J compact seamless warp models, these machines are only designed to produced garments, as opposed to wide width fabrics as with Karl Mayer machines, allowing  the machines to be much more compact.  As a result, Santoni machines are able to knit a true seamless garment, knitting the sleeves integrally and saving the sewing and cutting process. The garments produced are very fine knits and are designed for sportswear or undergarments.

A number of different Chinese flat bed technology brands with very similar technology to Shima Seiki were on display. It is known by Shima Seiki that there are knitting machines on the market with almost exactly the same technology as used in their machines; however, the cost is much cheaper. As a consequence, often the quality of the machine is sacrificed. The Chinese brands do not usually have a spare parts section to support the machines so the spare parts are often required to be ordered from Shima Seiki.

Eleven new machines were on display at the Shima Seiki stand, the highlight being the first 21-gauge flat bed knitting machine ever produced. A V-bed prototype machine equipped with two additional loop presser beds was also on display for the first time. A strong interest was seen in both the shaping and WHOLEGARMENT® machines, as well as the new SDS-ONE APEX3 design system. The SDS-ONE APEX3 system allows the customer to plan the products being developed and design for consumer markets by producing virtual samples – leading to less samples being required.