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5th December 2012, Brescia

Merino gains ground in seamless sportswear

Leading seamless circular knitting machine builder Santoni has reported strong sales of its machines into the sportswear sector especially for the production of merino wool based seamless garments. Sportswear manufacturers are mainly interested in the Italian company’s SM8 TR1 machine for single jersey garments with mesh effects – particularly in 24 gauge for zonal knitting or body mapping in natural fibres such as merino wool.

Speaking at this autumn’s Santoni Open House exhibition at the company’s Brescia headquarters, product manager Patrick Silva said:

“These new merino type seamless garments have a very different handle and are highly sought after by sportswear brands.  They mainly have lower elastane content and are therefore less intimate and are a new product category. Most manufacturers and manufacturing brands are using polypropylene inside for moisture management and wool on the outside.”


As is nearly always the case with Santoni seamless technology, garment knit times are very short – 12 to 15 minutes per garment. Well known adopters of such technology for merino garments include Icebreaker and Patagonia but it was a range of seamless garments from Polish company Filati which caught our eye at the Brescia show.

Filati has its own Brubeck brand of high-tech seamless wear but also manufactures for globally famous brands. The company was established in 2005 in Zdunska Wola, Poland and designs and makes its own thermo active sportswear as well as cotton based seamless underwear. It has a plant of around 100 Santoni seamless machines approximately 50 of which are the SM8 TR1 model.

Filati also makes high tech seamless cotton based underwear with polypropylene on the inside. The microfibre polypropylene transports moisture making the product both comfortable to wear and easy to iron.

Patrick Silva, who has worked in Santoni’s R&D department and in training customers before taking up his current marketing role, is highly complementary of Filati, offering it as a fine example of an innovative company creating exciting new products with Santoni’s seamless knitting technology.

40 gauge demand

Other interesting developments on show at the Santoni show were the SM8 TOP2 and SM8 TOP1V which are both now available in 40 gauge. The SM8 TOP1V (the V stands for veloce or high speed) is the simpler faster model with fewer colours, which is 35% faster.

“Brands are now looking for something new. They are no longer interested in standard 28 gauge products from cheap manufacturing areas. We think 40 gauge will be big,” Patrick Silva says.


Another creative company put forward by Silva as an innovator using Santoni seamless technology is Italy’s Nesatex which uses Santoni SMDJ machines to make prêt a porter garments for some of Europe’s top brands. The SMDJ allows the knitting of double jersey structures – 2,3 and 4 colour jacquards, 1x1 rib and interlock.

Nesatex makes beautiful seamless dresses in gauges 14 and 18 gauge. The elegant example below in 75%/25% wool/nylon rib structure takes only 12 minutes to knit in gauge 14. The company employs Santoni’s SMDJ technology in a range of different cylinder sizes in order to offer a full range of dress sizes.

Nesatex 14 gauge dress

Nesatex which is based in the Italian knitting town of Carpi in Modena has a large diameter double jersey knitting background a business which it runs alongside its seamless knitting division. The company prides itself in making real ‘Made in Italy’ high quality natural fibre products.

Nesatex was founded in 1981 by a group of individuals who have a long background in circular knitted fabrics. The continuing research for new materials, innovative processes, structures and knitting solutions has always been a part of the company's heritage. The company also offers printed, embroidered, coated, laminated, quilted and stretch fabrics.

Warp knitting technology

Staying on the seamless theme, one of the popular exhibits in Brescia was Santoni’s seamless warp knitting technology area where the company showed its SWD4/2J and SWD6/2J double needle bar jacquard raschel machines.

The models on show featured various refinements but the technology is said to need further development time before being sold in large quantities. A number of machines have been sold to leading seamless specialists and the machines are said to be easy to use. Leading users include Italy’s innovative Cifra and Sri Lankan knitting giant MAS Holdings.

Watch the Santoni SWD 6/2J compact warp knitting machine movie



Moving away from seamless, another highlight of the Santoni Open House was the company’s new Mec-Mor machine. Santoni says the market reaction to its new Mecmor Compact open width garment length knitwear or sweater knitting machine which it launched at last September’s ITMA in Barcelona, has been very good. Both existing and potential new customers are said to have been extremely positive about the new machine.

The Mecmor Compact is space saving and is said to have a lower price and greater flexibility than earlier Mecmor models. The machine’s added flexibility is derived from the fact that knit and transfer systems are now combined. Each of the Compact's 12 systems is now available for knit or transfer at any time with three way technique in both cylinder and dial.

With all earlier Mecmor machines, knit and transfer systems had to be physically removed and replaced to optimise the machine for a particular fabric structure. For example, to optimise for jacquard production, transfer systems were removed and replaced by knit systems.

View the Mecmor Compact video

The new 33 inch diameter Compact has a circumference of 210cm and uses completely new electronics throughout. A new Logica programming software package which runs in Windows, makes for easier programming and uses a knit colour system similar to those employed by the leading flat knitting machine builders.

David-Tex dress knitted on 18 gauge Mec-Mor

Another Carpi based innovative knitter using Santoni Group technology is David-Tex (Graziano Daviddi e Fratelli snc), a family business which uses 18 gauge Mec-Mor machines to make beautifully crafted dresses and jackets.  World famous Mec-Mor user Paul & Shark, known for its quality menswear, also had a range of samples on show.


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