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4th July 2019, Barcelona

Shima Seiki sets out to KNITify the World

Shima exhibited at ITMA 2019 under the theme ‘KNITify the World – Smart Solutions in Textiles’. © ITMA

Shima exhibited at ITMA 2019 under the theme ‘KNITify the World – Smart Solutions in Textiles’. © ITMA

Leading computerised flat knitting machine manufacturer Shima Seiki participated in the international textile machinery exhibition ITMA 2019, which took place in Barcelona, Spain, from 20-26 June 2019 – and the world leading Japanese company’s unshakable tradition of introducing new technologies at the quadrennial CEMATEX owned ITMA event, was robustly upheld in the Catalan capital.

Shima’s 566-square-metre booth featured a comprehensive line-up of its products, including a number of new Wholegarment knitting machines, computerised flat knitting machines and graphic design systems, as well as a range debuting digital solutions.

KNITify the World – Smart Solutions in Textiles

Shima exhibited at ITMA 2019 under the highly likeable theme – KNITify the World – Smart Solutions in Textiles, which showed the confidence and ambition of an industry technology leader. The theme aimed to illustrate the flexibility of Shima Seiki products for catering to a range of industries, in addition to its traditional customer base in the apparel industry.

Wholegarment knitting enables functional yarns to be incorporated seamlessly into smart garments and wearable technology. © Shima Seiki

Wholegarment knitting enables functional yarns to be incorporated seamlessly into smart garments and wearable technology. © Shima Seiki

Proposing knitting as an alternative manufacturing solution for non-fashion related industries, Shima demonstrated that what was impossible to knit in the past can now be knitted, and what was never even considered knitable is now possible with its KNITification solutions.

“Through combined application of our patented core technology that is widely accepted as the benchmark of the industry, Shima Seiki is disrupting the conventional perception of knitting, offering its benefits to prospective customers who are as yet unaware of the true and current potential that knitting possesses,” commented Masaki Karasuno, Head of Corporate Communications at Shima.

Casual and luxury shoes is one of the target markets for Shima Seiki. © Knitting Industry

Casual and luxury shoes is one of the target markets for Shima Seiki. © Knitting Industry

“To this end, the latest technological contributions aimed at promoting knitted applications in various fields ranging from fashion, sports, shoes and accessories to medical, automotive, aeronautical and other wearable and industrial textile applications are on display at ITMA.”

Great potential for technical textiles

“Knitting offers great potential for technical textiles with its inherent characteristics: stretch and compression,” continued Mr Karasuno. “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.”

3D knitting provides fit, comfort, lightness and mobility for wearable technology. © Shima Seiki

3D knitting provides fit, comfort, lightness and mobility for wearable technology. © Shima Seiki

“Wholegarment knitting maximises the benefits of shaped knitting even further by expanding that potential to 3 dimensions. Wholegarment knitting is capable of producing knitted items in their entirety on the machine, and allows 3D preforms and tubing to be produced without sewing. Elimination of sewing allows for faster turnaround 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 fibres 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.”

Wholegarment solutions

MACH2VS 14G – flexible and versatile

Three Wholegarment machines were on display in Barcelona, including the new MACH2VS machine, which was making its debut at this ITMA.

The new flexible and versatile MACH2VS, which has evolved from Shima’s MACH2S machines, has the capability to knit in a range of production methods – as a conventional shaping machine, it is capable of all-needle knitting in gauges 8-16, whereas Wholegarment knitwear can be produced in half-gauge (alternate needles).

MACH2VS. © Shima Seiki

MACH2VS. © Shima Seiki

According to Shima, the range of usable yarn and material has also widened, thanks to its i-DSCS+DTC (Digital Stitch Control System with Intelligence and Dynamic Tension Control) being fitted as standard equipment. The R2CARRIAGE system, which yields quicker carriage returns for greater efficiency, now features an even lighter carriage for even higher productivity.

From a versatility perspective, the MACH2VS is also capable of ‘gaugeless knitting’ whereby a number of different gauges can be knit into a single garment. A new full-colour touch-screen monitor improves operability over the previous monochromatic one.

Prototype options for MACH2VS

At ITMA, the MACH2VS on show featured a number of prototype options, including motorised auto yarn carriers that do not require extra carriage traverses for yarn carrier positioning – and a lace intarsia dress with vertical stripe pattern being knitted at the Shima booth demonstrated the advantages of this function.

Six-colour intarsia WG dress knitted using auto yarn carrier. © Knitting Industry

Six-colour intarsia WG dress knitted using auto yarn carrier. © Knitting Industry

Another important prototype option is a needle bed gap adjustment function for further ease in switching between conventional shaping and Wholegarment production.

MACH2XS103 15L

A short-needle bed (40-inch knitting width) version of Shima Seiki’s flagship Wholegarment machine, MACH2XS103 was also on show, which featured the company’s Slide Needle on four needle beds. High-quality Wholegarment production in all needles is possible at high speeds thanks to quick carriage returns with the R2CARRIAGE combined with a maximum speed of 1.6m/sec for high productivity. i-DSCS+DTC allows consistent, high-quality production with a variety of yarns. Equipped with a spring-type moveable sinker system, dimensional fabrics and flechage can be knitted expanding the machine’s knitting range.

MACH2XS103. © Shima Seiki

MACH2XS103. © Shima Seiki

The machine is also equipped with the Air Splicer option for multi-colour knitting by splicing together yarns at high-speed. Additionally, MACH2XS103 is equipped with the dual takedown prototype option that allows waste knitting for short-sleeve sweaters to be practically eliminated, which Shima reminds us, contributes to the sustainable nature of Wholegarment knitting.

MACH2XS123 15L

MACH2XS123 is slightly larger than the MACH2XS103, with a 50-inch (125cm) knitting width.

SlideNeedle mounted on 4 needle beds and spring-type moveable sinkers all contribute to highly efficient and versatile production of high-quality Wholegarment products.

MACH2XS123. © Shima Seiki

MACH2XS123. © Shima Seiki

The machine is also equipped with the dual takedown prototype option, as well as the optional tension control device that measures the stretch characteristics of a yarn before knitting and uses that data to control yarn feed at the machine. At ITMA, stretch characteristic was measured and controlled while knitting stretch leggings. The 15L machine featured large-hook SlideNeedle mounted in 15-gauge pitch for production of fabrics in the 10-15 gauge range.

MADE2FIT by Wholegarment

Wholegarment knitting was illustrated in its ultimate form in the new MADE2FIT area of the Shima Seiki booth, demonstrating mass-customisation via on-demand knitting technology.

“The on-demand production capability of Wholegarment knitting technology that can knit an entire garment in one piece on the machine without the need for sewing is naturally suited to production that is customised to the individual,” explained Masaki Karasuno. “At ITMA Shima Seiki is showcasing mass-customisation as it is applied with Wholegarment knitting, called MADE2FIT by Wholegarment.”

MADE2FIT by Wholegarment. © Shima Seiki

MADE2FIT by Wholegarment. © Shima Seiki

There was an entire area dedicated to presenting the concept, beginning with scanning a body using a smartphone app, then sending that data to a server that automatically adjusts preloaded data categories such as size, length, sleeve length and colour, and knitting on the MACH2XS103 Wholegarment knitting machine.

SWG091N2 5G – New 5 gauge ‘Mini’

Affectionately referred to as the SWG-Mini, Shima’s compact line of Wholegarment machines allows producers to take advantage of the same short lead times and versatile production capacity offered by full-blown Wholegarment knitting machines like the MACH2 series, but with lower investment levels. SWG091N2 with its 36-inch (90cm) knitting width is able to knit a wide variety of items and at ITMA it used scheduled knitting to produce matching gloves, socks and caps sequentially. The new 5 gauge Mini on show was fitted with 4 double carrier rails.

Upgraded flexible shaping machines

N.SVR123SP-SV 14G

Shima’s benchmark SVR-series computerised shaping machines have now been given an overhaul in the form of the new N.SVR series – so the SVR123SP for example, now adopts the ‘N’ designation and becomes the N.SVR123SP. Machines in the revamped range are said to be 15% more productive and 30% more energy efficient than their predecessors.

A special loop presser bed mounted above the rear needle bed makes the N.SVR123SP  capable of unique designs in knitted fabrics, especially inlay patterns - inlay patterns allow hybrid textiles that combine both knit and weave characteristics in the same fabric.

Additionally, the i-Plating option can alternate yarn colours in any pattern, producing jacquard-like designs using plain jersey stitch. Plating can be performed within the same course and for individual needles. In combination with the loop presser and patented spring-type moveable sinker system even greater diversity in knit design is possible.

N.SVR123SP. © Shima Seiki

N.SVR123SP. © Shima Seiki

A lighter, more compact carriage combines with high-speed carriage turnaround of the R2CARRIAGE system as well as a maximum knitting speed of 1.4m/sec to yield higher productivity. N.SVR123SP also features other proven Shima technologies such as Digital Stitch Control System (DSCS), stitch presser, takedown comb and yarn gripper and cutter system as well as WideGauge knitting capability. A new full-colour LCD touch-screen control panel is said to greatly improve on the previous monochromatic display.

At ITMA, the N.SVR123SP was knitting a chair fabric using velvet-like tape yarn which has a natural tendency to twist. The almost impossible to knit yarn is fed into the machine with the aid of Shima’s special Yarn Unwinding Device which helps with the handling of such challenging materials.

N.SVR122SP-SV 14G - prototype

The triple-knitting system N.SVR093SP/N.SVR123SP/N.SVR183SP line-up is now joined by the new prototype N.SVR122SP, which features a double KNITRAN cam system. Like the N.SVR123SP also shown at ITMA, N.SVR122 also features a special loop presser bed capable of inlay technique which allow hybrid textiles that combine both knit and weave characteristics in the same fabric.

N.SVR122SP. © Shima Seiki

N.SVR122SP. © Shima Seiki

In addition, the i-Plating option allows alternating yarn colours to be knit in any pattern, producing jacquard-like designs using plain jersey stitch. i-Plating was used to knit a sweater that also combined sinker patterns made possible with the patented spring-type moveable sinker system for even greater diversity in knit design.

N.SIR183-SV 18G – long needle bed

Shima’s SIR series for intarsia shaped knitting, has also been updated adding the long needle bed N.SIR183 featuring a 72-inch (183cm) knitting width. Greater productivity is achieved with a lighter, more compact carriage combined with a maximum knitting speed of 1.4 metres per second and the R2CARRIAGE System that improves efficiency in each course through quicker carriage returns. It is also fitted with DSCS, spring-type moveable sinker system, stitch presser, takedown comb and yarn gripper and cutter, as well as a new full-colour LCD touch-sensitive control panel.

N.SIR183. © Shima Seiki

N.SIR183. © Shima Seiki

With a maximum capacity for 30 intarsia carriers, the N.SIR183 model shown at ITMA used 10 carriers to produce an ultrafine gauge, one-piece dress knitted side-on, featuring flechage, pin tuck and other techniques. The machine also featured a prototype option top tension device that automatically adjusts tension.

Flexible knit manufacturing begins with flexible design

SDS-ONE APEX4

The latest manifestation of Shima Seiki's SDS-ONE APEX series 3D design systems – SDS-ONE APEX4, also made its debut at ITMA.

“Flexible knit manufacturing begins with flexible design, and the new SDS-ONE APEX4 offers a fully comprehensive set of tools and functions, as well as the capability for ultra-realistic simulation that realises virtual sampling,” clarified Masaki Karasuno. “In whatever field, 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 minimising 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 time.”

SDS-ONE APEX4. © Shima Seiki

SDS-ONE APEX4. © Shima Seiki

SDS-ONE APEX4 is a comprehensive all-in-one system that offers complete support for the knit supply chain, from planning and design to production and sales promotion. “As such, SDS-ONE APEX4 provides all the functions you need in taking advantage of the integrated workflow that is the Total Fashion System,” said Mr Karasuno.

“Not limited to the knit apparel industry, textile design and production requires the diversity to support ever-changing market needs, with increasing emphasis placed on speed from design to market and sustainability.”

According to Mr Karasuno, SDS-ONE APEX4 responds to such requirements by providing up to five times increase in programming and simulation speeds as compared to SDS-ONE APEX3. As part of its full support of planning and design needs, SDS-ONE APEX4 also features the latest search functions using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Knitted spheres, part of the Shima Seiki’s home textiles exhibit area. © Knitting Industry

Knitted spheres, part of the Shima Seiki’s home textiles exhibit area. © Knitting Industry

High-quality virtual sampling for circular knitting, flat knitting, weaving and pile weaving reduces time wasted, costs and the material waste associated with sampling. “It can also be used for e-commerce as well as pre-ordering to forecast demand and optimise inventory through smart, speedy and sustainable production,” concluded Mr Karasuno.

Full-featured solutions-provider

Shima Seiki Online Services

In addition to the technological innovations in hardware and software that make up Shima's product range, the company now also provides various IT solutions for assisting its customers in establishing a smart supply chain. These solutions have now been organised into a one-stop website called Shima Seiki Online Services (Shima Online for short), which consists of the following digital solutions:

  • staf (Shima trend archive and forecast) - web-based product planning tool with trend archive
  • Shima KnitPLM - product data management, production management and monitoring system
  • FAQ
  • Users' Site - customer support site
  • yarnbank  - yarn sourcing website
  • E-learning - tutorial website

With Shima Online, the company says it is shedding its traditional role of manufacturer and becoming a true full-featured solutions provider for the knitting industry – the new portal site opened this month along with the new Shima Seiki corporate website.

staf. © Shima Seiki

staf. © Shima Seiki

Shima Online collectively introduces the company's various web-based services, taking advantage of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. “Shima supports its users in all stages of the product supply chain through various web-based services, ranging from fashion trend information and archive of knit samples to production management and training support,” the company said.

Services included at Shima Online are:

Shima KnitPLM

Shima KnitPLM connects Shima Seiki products with the customer's core systems such as ERP and SCM using the latest IoT technology and aims to ensure traceability and improved productivity throughout the value chain. In addition, seamless data links between software packages eliminates the need for data input at each stage, achieving workflow automation and labour savings.

staf

A web service aimed at inspiring creativity in the fashion industry, staf features an impressive volume of archive data including collection photos, fabrics, designs, illustrations, patterns and more. Information can be organised using tools that are intuitive and easy to operate for effective product planning. New to staf is knit content based on trend and market information for the next season. Data that can be used with the SDS-ONE APEX series design system is also available, such as knit designs, patterns and 3D simulation data, enabling faster product development.

yarnbank Sample Exhibit

yarnbank is a new website for searching and downloading digital yarn data that can be used for virtual sampling on the SDS-ONE APEX series 3D design system, free of charge. Downloading yarn data reduces the need for scanning yarns manually, while accuracy of simulations and efficiency of product planning is improved and for the yarn company, yarnbank provides a brand-new channel for sales promotion.

Electroluminescent knitting by Shima Seiki. © Knitting Industry

Electroluminescent knitting by Shima Seiki. © Knitting Industry

With yarnbank, the entire supply chain from yarn companies and apparel companies to knit manufacturers can be connected digitally. Although actual launch of yarnbank is yet to be announced, a preview demonstration was available at ITMA and showed digital yarn collections from Yarns & Colors, iafil. Toyoboshi, Tollegno 1900, Hasegawa, UPW, Xinno, Recover, Regal, Xinao and Novetex.

With a fully comprehensive collection of the latest innovative products and services, Shima Seiki technology at ITMA 2019 demonstrated smart, speedy and sustainable production that further secures its leading role in KNITifying the World.

Further information

Visit the new Shima Seiki website

Visit Shima Seiki Online Services

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