Computerized knitting machines
Knitting offers great potential for technical textiles with its inherent characteristics: stretch and compression. Flat knitting provides further potential as the only textile production method that can shape fabric on the machine. To this end, new knitting techniques such as inlay has gained particular attention for their capability to produce hybrid knit-weave fabrics that allow insertion of technical yarns heretofore considered incompatible with knitting, into existing knit fabrics. These include carbon fiber, monofilament and even metallic yarns. Shima Seiki has even developed a special device for unwinding spools of technical yarn to ease yarn feed for such difficult-to-handle material.
WholeGarment knitting maximizes the benefits of shaped knitting even further by expanding that potential to 3 dimensions. It is capable of producing knitted items in their entirety on the machine, and allows 3D forms and tubing to be produced without sewing. Elimination of sewing allows for faster turnarounds and high potential for on-demand knitting. The seam-free nature also ensures continuity of the fabric, allowing functional yarns such as those made from conductive fibers to wrap around the entire body without interruption for applications in smart garments and wearable technology. 3D knitting provides fit, comfort, lightness and mobility - key factors that make seam-free WholeGarment knitwear ideal as wearable technology platforms.
In addition to machine technology the latest version of the SDS-One Apex series 3D design system is presented as an equally important factor in modern day knit production. Flexible knit manufacturing begins with flexible design, and the Apex series offers a fully comprehensive set of tools and functions, as well as the capability for ultra-realistic simulation that realizes virtual sampling. When countless variations must be evaluated before arriving at a final design, virtual product samples can be used to streamline the decision-making process by minimizing the enormous amount of resources - time, cost and material - normally associated with producing actual samples for each variation. This allows for more designs and design variations to be considered with much less waste. When approved, the same data can be used to program machines for immediate knitting, significantly reducing lead times.
Aside from the technological innovations in hardware and software that make up the company's line-up of knitting machines and design systems, the company also provides various IT solutions for assisting its customers in establishing a smart supply chain. In addition to its staf (shima trend archive and forecast) web-based product planning tool and Shima KnitPLM production management and monitoring system, several other digital solutions will be on show for the first time.