The common theme among the knitting machinery manufacturers at ITMA in Barcelona was the integration of the process stages and digitalisation, automatisation, as well as an ever-expanding range of applications for a variety of knitting technologies.

Shima Seiki. © Innovation in Textiles

Proposing knitting as an alternative manufacturing solution for non-fashion related industries, Japanese computerised flat knitting machinery manufacturer Shima Seiki demonstrated that what was impossible to knit in the past can now be knitted with its KNITification solutions. “Knitting offers great potential for technical textiles with its inherent characteristics: stretch and compression,” said Masaki Karasuno, Head of Corporate Communications at Shima. “Flat knitting provides further potential with its capability to shape fabric on the machine. New knitting techniques such as inlay made possible with special loop pressers featured on our new N.SVR-SP series machines add further value to knitting and have gained particular attention for its ability to produce hybrid knit-weave fabrics that allow insertion of technical yarns heretofore considered incompatible with knitting, into existing knit fabrics. These include carbon fibre, monofilament and even metallic yarns. Shima has even developed a special Yarn Unwinding Device for unwinding spools of technical yarn to ease yarn feed for such difficult-to-handle material.” Read more here – Shima Seiki sets out to KNITify the World.

Stoll. © Innovation in Textiles

Another global leader in flat knitting machinery Stoll, from Germany, returned to ITMA with a focus on new knitelligence networking solution, designed to play a key role industry wide, as each software tool solidifies the entire knitting process from design to production. The manufacturer also explored the topic of Stoll-knitrobotic – automated robotic functions during a knitting process, which will replace manual interventions without interruptions (like inserting non-textile elements as the item is being knitted). Demonstrations were performed on the ADF 530-32 ki W knitting machine in the gauge E18/16. In the sector of technical textiles, Stoll presented various demanding technical applications on the CMS 530 ki W in the gauge E7.2.

Santoni’s XT Machine. © Innovation in Textiles

Santoni, an Italian leader in the production of sock and pantyhose machines and a part of the Lonati group, celebrated its 100-year anniversary at the show. The company featured a diverse display for manufacturers of underwear, sportswear, beachwear, external, medical wear, denimwear, smart-textiles, socks and footwear, and more. The company presented its brand-new, patented XT Machine with its ingenious intarsia technology for efficient production of the shoe uppers, which is expected to hit the market in 2-3 months, according to Patrick Silva Szatkowski, Marketing Manager, Santoni. Also on show was the updated versatile Mec-Mor technology, known throughout the world as the only alternative range of machines that look circular but perform like a V-bed machine. This technology, displayed on 20 gauge, enables the production of weft double-face knitted garments with high quality designs and record production times. It is also used to produce accessories, such as 3D backpacks, where various yarns can be knitted into ad-hoc positioned areas, in order to obtain a seamless structure for superior product performance.

Mayer & Cie. © Innovation in Textiles

Also with a focus on digitalisation and versatility, German warp knitting machinery builder Mayer & Cie. put its digital offerings together under the name knitlink. The platform includes a web shop, remote maintenance options and recording and evaluation of machine data for the customer and is to be further expanded in the future. The company also premiered the OVJA 1.1 EETT premium jacquard machine, part of the focus on sports, and the Weftnit 3.2 machine study. Unlike common knitting machines, the Weftknit works with spring beard needles and the applications could be found in the automotive, swimwear, sports and leisurewear and outerwear sectors, as well as producing substrates for laminated fabrics.

“In view of the current situation of the textile machinery market the 2019 ITMA was, by and large, satisfactory,” said Benjamin Mayer, one of Mayer & Cie.’s two managing partners and the director in charge of sales. “Very positive trade fair experiences included the response to our digital offerings and the feedback about our Weftnit machine study. We were evidently already able to demonstrate at the development stage the advantages of the knitting method convincingly.”