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ITMA Technology

A review of staple-spinning; knitting; and dyeing, printing and finishing technology at ITMA 2007


Editor's Note:  Textile World's ITMA technology coverage will continue in the January/February 2008 issue with reviews of the weaving and nonwovens sectors.

Staple Spinning

By Dr. William Oxenham, Technical Editor

ITMA 2007, the International Exhibition of Textile Machinery, held in Munich, Germany, was not a show of major innovations. This ITMA featured updates on technology and some reintroductions of “old” ideas. Several manufacturers indicated an interest in energy savings, but there was little hype in the spinning area about “green,” “organic” or “sustainable.” There were new names, changed names and changed ownership, brought about by mergers and acquisitions, and it was interesting to note that the bigger names in spinning have become bigger names in nonwovens.

Blowroom
Better and more gentle opening and cleaning, together with productivity increases formed the general theme in the blowroom. There seemed to be a continued interest in foreign fiber detection and removal. Germany-based Trützschler GmbH & Co. KG showed its Foreign Part Separator Securoprop SP-FP, which utilizes polarized light to highlight polypropylene fragments that can then be ejected. Switzerland-based Jossi Systems AG, in common with other manufacturers, recommends the placement of its unit after the fine opener and claims processing capabilities of 1,200 kilograms per hour (kg/hr). Here too, there was a focus on the removal of polypropylene, and Jossi’s Vision Shield system — for colored fiber detection — can be combined with the MagicEye system utilizing ultraviolet lighting that is able to detect the presence of man-made contaminants in cotton. There was an indication that sensitivity setting of the detection and removal sensor is critical to minimize fiber waste. Germany-based H. Hergeth showcased its CUBiSCAN unit with optical sensor; and Italy-based Loptex S.r.l. highlighted its Optosonic Sorter, which uses a combination of optical and ultrasonic sensors. The former detects colored fibers, whereas the latter detects man-mades such as polypropylene. India-based Vetal Textiles & Electronics Pvt. Ltd. demonstrated a similar approach with its Vetal Scan with Polysensor.

Another feature, which logically should be important, is the ability to measure fiber moisture content. Jossi demonstrated a unit using near infrared, which the company reports is capable of determining moisture in the bales. Streat Instruments Ltd., New Zealand, offered its Drycom systems, including units designed for opening lines, that can be used to monitor — and, if necessary, modify — the moisture content from fiber to fabric.

Carding
The most noticeable feature in carding is that two of the major players have taken different approaches, which are immediately apparent when looking at the cylinder sizes. Trützschler showed developments of its previously shown TC 03 card, which has a raised cylinder permitting a significant increase in the potential carding area. Switzerland-based Rieter Textile Systems exhibited its C 60 card, which, while being wider, at 1,500 millimeters, utilizes a smaller cylinder running at higher speeds.

Trützschler exhibited two cards: the TC 07, designed for high-speed production for applications such as rotor spinning; and the TC 06, most suited for finer combed yarns. Rieter claims its C 60 card yields the highest productivity, at 220 kg/hr, with regard to the floor area occupied. While available with triple taker-in rollers, the manufacturers recommend that a single taker-in is adequate for production of up to 180 kg/hr. Both Trützschler and Rieter offered the possibility of integrated draw frames. Several other manufacturers, including India-based Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW) Ltd., Italy-based Marzoli S.p.A. and China-based China Texmatech Co. Ltd., also showed cards.

Various previously introduced forms of automation were shown, such as the Integrated Grinding System from Rieter, and nep counting from Trützschler. A lot of interest was aroused by Trützschler’s T-Con and Magnatop systems. The former is a system for predicting the impact of various processing parameters of the effective settings around the card and can thus be used to optimize processing. The latter is a novel way of mounting the card clothing to the flats using strong magnets.

Combing
There have been some significant improvements in combing. Perhaps the biggest news in this sector is the partnership between Marzoli and Trützschler, resulting in a combing machine and lap winder in Trützschler livery, extending the range of machinery offered by Trützschler from baling to combing, and sliver drawing. The TCO 1 comb has a top speed of 500 nips per minute, and Trützschler can customize linkages between the Superlap TSL 1 and combs. Rieter’s E76 comb also has a maximum potential speed of 500 nips per minute and a production rate of up to 74 kg/hr. Rieter claims improvements in comb geometry have enabled 2-percent lower noil extraction. Combs also were shown by Marzoli with its CM601N running at 485 nips per minute and 72.7 kg/hr, and LMW with the LK 64.

Drawing
The general claims for draw frames were for more sophisticated but easier-to-operate machines that yield improved sliver quality and slightly higher production speeds. The choice of outputs still is circular cans, with rectangular format — cubicans — also available. As indicated earlier, both Trützschler and Rieter showed the possibility of cards with integrated draw frames. Trützschler offers the TD 02 and TD 03 machines, the former being a small and simple first-passage draw frame, whereas the TD 03 is more sophisticated with individual motor drives, online control and self-optimizing functions such as automatic setting of the break draft. Rieter offers several versions of its SB series of draw frames including different levels of sophistication — multileveled or not, single or double head and speeds of up to 1,100 meters per minute (m/min). Marzoli/Vouk showed its UMT-RN draw frame, which had a Siemens display showing machine functions and controls, running at 800 m/min and 236 kg/hr.

There seems to be significant interest in novelty yarns, and to satisfy the needs of worsted spinners, Caipo Automazione Industriale S.r.l., Italy, showed its new, special drawing Fancy Tops Multi Injection draw frame. This effectively combines lengths of several different-colored slivers in sequence to create the effect of a printed, mélange sliver, which will render a fancy yarn when spun.

Ring Spinning
The technology of compact spinning is now accepted as an approach to enhancing the properties of ring-spun yarn, while also offering potential improvements in processing efficiency. The major players had machines on show, including Rieter’s K45, Germany-based Oerlikon Zinser’s 351C3, Germany-based Spindelfabrik Suessen GmbH’s EliTwist® and Japan-based Toyota Industries’ RX 240. All showed machines utilizing suction systems to consolidate the yarn. Rieter and Suessen both showed systems that are fed with two rovings, and thus give further reduction in hairiness and some of the attributes of a two-fold structure. Additionally, several manufacturers showed the possibility of incorporating elastane into the yarn. The alternate approach of using mechanical compaction was shown by LMW on its LR 63, which uses Switzerland-based Rotorcraft’s Rotorcraft Compact Spinning (RoCoS) system. The latter company had a sample-spinning machine demonstrating the potential of the RoCoS system for spinning double roving yarns and incorporating a core yarn such as an elastomer. The RoCoS system is less sensitive to shorter fibers and is thus more capable of processing slightly shorter fibers, such as Indian cotton, where the benefits gained by compact spinning can offset normal shortcomings in yarn quality, according to Rotorcraft.


A further interesting feature of the show was the ability of the ring frames to readily create slub effects — something also demonstrated in rotor spinning. Indeed, with the changes in drives and controls, it is possible to create not only slub effects, but also progressive changes in count and variations in twist. This was particularly emphasized by Rieter with its Variospin II effect yarn system, and by Toyota with its E-draft system. These systems also are being used on compact frames, for example, Rieter’s COM4vario.

As expected, all machines on display at the show were equipped with full frame autodoffing and transport systems — roving in and full yarn package out. These were available either through third parties or from the spinning frame manufacturer, such as with Rieter’s SERVOtrail roving transport system.

Detection of rogue spindles — those spinning positions that give unusually high numbers of excessive end breaks — can be a key initiative in improving ring-spinning efficiency. Past approaches to this have included the Uster® RingData system from Switzerland-based Uster Technologies AG, which used a patrolling sensor to identify stationary positions. Rieter’s Individual Spindle Monitoring system is a newer approach that uses a sensor positioned on each spindle. This not only enables the quantification of end breaks for the whole frame — which can be used to optimize spinning speed — but also can detect rogue spindles and spindles running at incorrect speeds.

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Savio Macchine Tessili S.p.A. highlighted the new Twist & Twist machine, which produces three twists in the yarn each time the spindle rotates.

Rotor Spinning
Rieter, Germany-based Oerlikon Schlafhorst and Italy-based Savio Macchine Tessili S.p.A. all exhibited rotor-spinning machines. Both Rieter and Schlafhorst offer a high-tech and lower-tech option to cater to different customer needs in different areas. Rieter’s flagship R 40 has up to 500 rotors that can achieve rotor speeds of up to 160,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) and is capable of speeds up to 290 m/min. With 240 rotors, 350 m/min is possible. This sophisticated and highly automated machine has improved piecing and, depending on the customer’s needs, up to four robots. Rieter also offers BT 923 and BT 924 semi-automatic rotor machines that operate at up to 111,000 rpm with 200 m/min delivery speeds. In a similar vein, Schlafhorst’s Autocoro 480 with 480 rotors operates at up to 150,000 rpm and 300 m/min. The alternative S360 with DigiPiecing is a non-automated version that uses the same spin box, but operating at lower speeds. Savio exhibited its FlexiRotorS 3000® spinning a Ne 8 slub yarn on one side at 95,000 rpm, while the other side was spinning Ne 30 yarn at 160,000 rpm.

Self-Twist Spinning
While the previous ITMA showed an adaptation of the old Platt self-twist spinner, there has been no new machine shown in this area at the past three ITMAs, apart from the use of self-twisting technology for filament yarns, such as that shown by Belgium-based Gilbos NV with its AirTwist system. It was thus surprising to see a totally new machine from Germany-based Oerlikon Saurer based on friction twisting using oscillating rollers. The WinSpin is capable of producing two-strand and four-strand yarns directly from worsted rovings. While in principle it utilizes the same concepts as the older self-twist machines, it is a much more sophisticated machine with integrated autodoffing, yarn clearing and splicer — from Oerlikon’s Schlafhorst division — and the ability to feed elastane and filament yarns. A further major advantage is that each spinning position has individual drives, so that individual spinning units can be stopped. The creation of a multistrand — up to four components — torque-balanced yarn directly from roving or lightweight sliver offers tremendous advantages in terms of eliminated processes, and the multifold structure offers distinct benefits associated with lower hairiness.

Vortex Spinning
Japan-based Murata Machinery Ltd.’s Textile Machinery Division (Muratec) displayed its MVS 861 machine spinning Ne 40 yarn at 400 m/min. The feedstock was carded cotton that had been drawn three times. A section of the display was a group of vortex spindles spinning 19.5-micrometer 100-percent wool into Nm 48 yarn at a speed of 250 m/min. The possibility of using this technology has been the subject of several years of research in Australia. While this processing technology may offer potential economic advantages, there must be questions about the acceptability of the yarns by worsted spinners and their customers — perhaps the most conservative group with respect to new developments, especially when the yarn is in any way different from a traditional ring-spun yarn.

Twisting And Winding
There was an abundance of winders that came in a wide range of sophistication levels - from a simple package rewinder to automatic winders intended to be linked to spinning frames. A cursory overview seemed to indicate a significant number of machines dedicated to fancy yarns, and a lot of interest in rewinding and clearing chenille yarn.

One particularly interesting development was the Arrange Winder shown by Muratec and  Katayama Co. Ltd., Japan. This winding machine is fed by multiple yarns spliced together at predetermined lengths, creating the appearance of a long period space-dyed yarn or a yarn with splashes of different colors. This seems like a very useful tool for the development of new fabric designs. Murata also showed its EcoTwister, which utilizes individual spindle drives and gives a potential power consumption savings of up to 50 percent.

Various manufacturers showed different two-for-one twisters, heavy-duty ring twisters - these from Italy-based Lema Lezzeni S.r.l. and Spain-based Galan Textile Machinery S.L. - and various wrapping and covering machines. There also seemed to be a number of manufacturers showing units for making chenille - Italy-based Gigliotti & Gualchieri S.r.l. and Huzur Tekstil, Turkey, for example - and various types of machines for creating fancy yarns. These either utilized hollow-spindle technology - such as machines shown by Italy-based Pafasystem S.r.l., Oerlikon Saurer and Italy-based Giesse S.r.l. - that could be incorporated into a system also using ring twisting, or variations on knitting technology for producing either round or flat yarns manufacturing - such as shown by Temat S.n.c., Italy.

It was strange to see that Oerlikon Saurer's Volkmann product line had dropped its Tritec three-for-one twisting machine, but Savio showed a newly developed Twist & Twist (T&T) triple-twist machine. This machine uses two counter-rotating balloons, one of which is running twice as fast as the other, which generate three turns of twist in the resultant yarn each time the spindle rotates. This feature leads to an obvious increase in productivity.

Automation
Various forms of automation were featured in many exhibits, and there were several exhibitors promoting their own automation solutions. Of note were Spain-based Electro-Jet S.A.’s automatic doffing systems with the Rovematic ADR; and various manufacturers of material handling systems including Italy-based U.T.I.T. Wagner Automation S.p.A. and Zancaner S.r.l.; and Sieger & Welker, a brand offered by Germany-based Welker Spintech GmbH in cooperation with Sieger Spintech Equipment Pvt. Ltd., India.

There appeared to be a major thrust to tackle the problem of foreign fibers, and this was a feature on several devices that can be used during spinning, winding or testing. The approaches used by different companies for detecting foreign fiber vary considerably, ranging from optical systems at India-based Premier Evolvics Pvt. Ltd., use of electrostatic behavior by Belgium-based Barco NV and Switzerland-based Loepfe Brothers Ltd., and combined capacitance/optical sensors from Uster.

Overall Impressions
It is clear ITMA 2007 was not a show to be remembered for the introduction of revolutionary technologies but, as with other recent shows, there was more associated with refinement and consolidation. It is interesting to note that while some technologies were dropped by some machinery makers, these same technologies were introduced by others. An additional trend is a move towards environmental concern, and while this is not as pronounced as might have been predicted, several manufacturers are adopting technologies that could reduce power requirements. There also seemed to be considerable interest in fancy or novelty yarns, and this ranged from the production of fancy slivers, through slubbing mechanisms on ring and rotor machines and many fancy yarn and chenille machines, plus winders designed for these yarns, through to the ability to measure fancy yarns on an Uster tester.

Knitting

By Dr. Trevor Little, Technical Editor

The knitting sector offered many new developments and improvements at ITMA 2007. The developments were shown across all categories of knitting, and many focused on producing finer-gauge machines and the resultant fine-gauge, more drapeable fabrics. Machinery makers also used a variety of approaches to increase productivity, including increased speed, as well as new machine configurations and systems to produce complete products. Another theme evident among several key knitting machinery makers was the practice of offering a lower-cost version of some basic knitting machine types. The lower-cost version produces the same-quality fabric, but may have reduced flexibility in available machine features.

Warp Knitting
Warp knitting developments included further increases in knitting speed for the two-bar tricot machines. Knitting speeds have reached 4,010 rpm at Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH and Liba Maschinenfabrik GmbH, both based in Germany. Tricot machines operating at these speeds include Liba’s Copcentra K E and Karl Mayer’s HKS 2-3 E.

The speed improvements since the last ITMA are attributable to the increasing use of composite materials for the guide bars. These materials improve guide bar rigidity, reduce weight by up to 25 percent and are much less affected by temperature changes, according to Karl Mayer representative Barry Kelly.

Karl Mayer demonstrated its 36-gauge HKS 2-3 E using a 40-denier nylon on one bar and a 40-denier elastane on the other to yield a production rate of around 54.5 meters per hour with a finished fabric width of 60 to 62 inches from a 130-inch-wide machine. Karl Mayer showed further advances for electronic control and management of the knitting machine as well as production. The Karl Mayer command system, KAMCOS®, is a touch-screen operator interface that controls beam let-off, and fabric take-up can now be integrated using networking and data transfer for management control. The system uses new system partner Barco’s Knitmaster software, and also integrates data from the fabric scanner during knitting. Remote service of warp-knitting equipment is being addressed by Karl Mayer using its “tele-service” system. This system, combined with KAMCOS, allows the technician to use a unit with integrated camera, audio, and communication device to discuss the problem in real time with Karl Mayer experts.

Warp knitting machinery manufacturers continue to offer machines for both the fashion and technical textiles industries. Karl Mayer’s RS 2(3) MSU S raschel machine with parallel weft insertion was equipped at ITMA with a top feed roll to control the warp-inserted yarns. The machine comes equipped with compound piercing needles and produces fabric especially for signage. Using multi-speed control, a grid pattern can be produced, further illustrating the increasing versatility of the warp knitting equipment. The 18-gauge, 213-inch-wide RS 2(3) MSU S was shown operating at 1,500 rpm, at a rate of 189 meters per hour (m/hr) with 70-denier polyester yarns on guide bars 1 and 2, and 500-denier as both the warp- and weft-insertion yarns. A 28-gauge HKS 3-M tricot machine shown operating at 2,400 rpm was producing automotive headliner fabric at a production speed of around 65.5 m/hr.

Karl Mayer’s RSJ 5/1 EL, with its split execution of the jacquard bar, is of interest as it offers a warp-knit solution for body-shaping fabrics. Shown at ITMA as a 28-gauge, 130-inch machine operating at 1,100 rpm and producing 11.2 m/hr, the RSJ 5/1 EL can produce a large variety of patterned shapewear fabrics with the one jacquard bar and five other knitting bars.

Karl Mayer introduced new versions of some of its basic warp-knitting machines to better compete with machine makers in other countries. The new TM 3, shown in a 28-gauge and 186-inch-wide version, operates at 2,200 rpm producing some 60 m/hr of fabric — including toy plush, shoe and sportswear and outerwear fabric — and is the lower-cost version of a basic three-bar tricot machine.

Spacer fabrics continue to provide opportunity, according to Liba Sales Manager Klaus-Peter Wendt, as he introduced the company’s new double-needle-bar raschel machine, the DG 506-30-2HS. This machine offers patterning capability for spacer mesh fabrics, which are finding applications in such products as fiber-reinforced lightweight concrete.

Circular Weft Knitting
Among the highlights of ITMA 2007 were the significant advances in fine-gauge circular knitting. Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, exhibited the MV 4-3.2 II model circular single-jersey machine in 60 gauge. This model is now available in gauges from 12 to 60 needles per inch. The 60-gauge machine was the only one of its kind at the show, according to Bill Davis, sales agent, Mayer Circular Knitting Machinery Inc., Columbia, S.C. Davis said this gauge of machine is designed to produce high-quality fabrics with excellent drape characteristics for shirts, blouses and high-value innerwear and outerwear.

However, there were other manufacturers working to develop fine-gauge machinery. Italy-based Vignoni, a division of Italy-based Santoni S.p.A., is waiting for certain parts to finalize its 60-gauge machine, and this should be achieved in the near future, according to Vignoni/Mec-Mor division representative Charles Jacob. Germany-based SMC GmbH exhibited a 66-gauge cylinder at Germany-based Groz Beckert KG’s booth, but indicated that the 60-gauge circular knitting machine is the finest machine operating at this time.

Monarch Knitting Machinery Corp., Bronx, N.Y., exhibited a new yarn-furnishing device for use on fine-gauge jacquard knitting machines. Known as the Ultrafeeder and manufactured by Italy-based BTSR International S.p.A., it uses digital technology to control yarn tension and yarn running speed. An advantage of this device is the ability to make adjustments during acceleration and deceleration of the knitting machine, and the ability to rapidly adjust to the varying yarn demands from jacquard structures. The yarn-furnishing Ultrafeed can be programmed for yarn tensions from 0.2 gram up to 100 grams, and can operate at yarn running speeds up to 1,500 m/min at 24 volts and up to 2,500 m/min at 36 volts.

Consistent with other themes throughout ITMA, Mayer & Cie. offered a BASICLine at a price benefit to manufacturers. The essential elements to produce high-quality fabric have been retained, according to Davis, but the manufacturer will have a reduced number of options or capabilities. The BASICLine now includes the D4-2.2 version for interlock, S 4-3.2 for single jersey, SF4-3.2 for fleece and S4-3.2 R for stripes. Mayer & Cie. has further developed its FSI 3-2.0 QC rib machine to incorporate sinkers. During normal knitting, the sinkers are not in use, but in the event of a press-off, the sinkers can be activated to speed up the press-off repair.

In terms of circular single-jersey knitting machine speed, Monroe, N.C.-based Vanguard Supreme — a division of Monarch — displayed an 18-inch, 72-feed, 22-gauge SJ4A/D machine operating at 110 rpm, which is a 1,980 speed factor. Vanguard sales representative Brian Driggars indicated this machine could operate at a 2,000 speed factor in single track using quality yarns. A further feature of the high-speed machine is the jumbo roll take-up system capable of handling a 45- to 48-inch-diameter fabric roll weighing up to 600 pounds.

Pai Lung Machinery Mill Co. Ltd., Taiwan, continues to innovate with knitted structures resembling woven structures. The corduroy knitting machine model PL-ASFC can produce a tighter fabric with reduced stretch, according to Bill Moody, president, Nova Pai Lung, Monroe, N.C. This is a single-jersey machine with multi-raceway capability. In terms of production capacity, a 26-inch-diameter PL-ASFC machine in 22 gauge with 60 feeders produces 280 kilograms per day of 66-inch-wide 360-grams-per-square-meter fabric. Pai Lung also showed a circular single-jersey machine with jumbo take-up system operating at a 2,000 speed factor.

Automatic Striping
While automated striping capability is not a new knitting development, it was evident there was a significant effort among all machine builders to offer a wide range of machines with that capability. Striped fabric is in demand currently for single- and double-jersey fabrics using automatic stripers, especially to produce engineered stripe fabrics.

Open-Width Knitting
Many machine manufacturers now offer textile companies the option of slitting the fabric open on the knitting machine to prepare an open-width roll of fabric. This approach eliminates the center crease in the fabric that often is visible even after finishing. The open-width device is especially useful for manufacturers working with fiber types and knit structures that are prone to imparting a semi-permeable crease or set in the fabric. Elimination of creases also can represent an overall savings of fabric as the product manufacturer can use a larger percentage of the finished fabric. Open-width devices are now available from almost all the large-diameter knitting machine manufacturers.

Seamless
The seamless bodywear sector of circular knitting continues to evolve with increased productivity, new 3-D capability and new vendors entering the market.

Santoni introduced two new machines with an increased number of knitting feeders. The SM8-TOP1V single-jersey version for innerwear, beachwear, sportswear and outerwear can operate at speed factors of up to 2,080 for the 13-inch-diameter unit — 13 inches x 160 rpm — and offers eight knitting feeds with full patterning capability. The SM12-EVO3, also a new entry into the seamless knitting market, is available in diameters of up to 20 inches and gauges ranging from 16 to 32. A most impressive machine in the Santoni lineup was the SM4-TL2, which is its four-feed single-jersey reciprocating machine. Although this machine was introduced prior to ITMA, it was shown producing a completely shaped sports bra with the only remaining assembly being the joining of the shoulder straps. Santoni representative Marco Poddine suggested that to be able to successfully incorporate true 3-D shaping on circular knitting machinery is truly a significant advance for the seamless knitting industry.

According to Bruce Pernick, president, Monarch has introduced an eight-feed single-cylinder seamless bodywear machine called the Charlotte. The machine exhibited at the show was a 14-inch-diameter, 28-gauge machine with seven yarn selectors at each feed. At the present time, five machines have been placed in trial locations in the United States and China, and in educational institutions according to Jan Kollman, designer, Uniplet, a Czech Republic-based hosiery knitting machine manufacturer acquired by Monarch in 2004.

Merz Maschinenfabrik GmbH, Germany, also showed a new machine for seamless bodywear. Model MBS is an eight-feed-jacquard single-jersey machine and was shown at ITMA in a 13-inch, 28-gauge version.

Circular Knit Mattress Ticking
Several machine vendors offered knitting solutions for the mattress ticking industry.

Mayer and Cie. exhibited the OVJA 1.6 EE in a 38-inch-diameter and 20 gauge with 60 feeders. The machine has electronic needle selection in both dial and cylinder and therefore offers full jacquard designs and structures on both sides of the fabric. The 38-inch-diameter machine is needed to produce fabric that will extend the length of the mattress when in open width.

Monarch offers a computerized double-jersey jacquard 38-inch-diameter machine with two-position needle selection for the mattress ticking market. The machine is available with 84 feeds and was exhibited in 20 gauge. The fabric produced is 235 to 240 centimeters wide, which is adequate to cover the length of a mattress, according to Pernick.

Terrot GmbH, Germany, showed model UCC 572 M in 20 gauge for the production of mattress ticking. UCC 572 M is an electronically controlled jacquard double-knitting machine in a 38-inch diameter. However, according to Volkmar Dehne, area sales manager, the UCC 572 M with its 90 feeds produces up to 30.2 meters of fabric per hour and is much more productive than other machines for this product.

Circular Intarsia
A novel approach to intarsia knitting was offered by MBI Technology Co. Ltd., Korea.

Most true intarsia is made using flat and v-bed knitting technology, but this circular intarsia machine offers an alternate approach. MBI model S0823 was shown with a 16.7-inch diameter in 8 gauge with 23 intarsia feeders and one rib feed. During the intarsia knitting, the cylinder reciprocates back and forth while selecting the knitting pattern. The machine is fully electronic using WAC actuators and is claimed to be 1.5 times more productive than the intarsia function of the previous flat knitting machine, according to MBI.

Advances In V-Bed Knitting

The v-bed knitting machinery manufacturers continue to provide a wealth of options for the garment manufacturer. Two v-bed machine vendors have provided the majority of innovations in this sector. In flat v-bed knitting, electronics and computerization have been the significant drivers for innovations over the past three decades. Today, the knit design systems for flat knitting have advanced to give the designer an improved user interface, while much of the machine configuring and programming has progressively been automated.

H. Stoll GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, offered a new economy line of machines in its CMS range, offering gauges of 5, 7, 12 and 14 for the CMS 420 E; and gauges of 3, 5.2, 6.2 and 7.2 for the CMS 420 E multi-gauge model. The concept behind the new machines is to enable manufacturers to knit a significant proportion of the full fashion orders. The benefit of the multi-gauge technology is that a given gauge can make fabrics that appear to have been knitted on finer or coarser gauges — even in the same product. Further, a manufacturer can knit a wide range of fabric constructions by purchasing fewer machine gauges. For example, a machine with gauge E6.2 covers a gauge range of 6, 7 and 12; while a machine of gauge E7.2 can knit fabrics that would have been made on 7, 12 or 14 needles-per-inch machines using traditional gauges. Stoll also introduced a new Plating Kit for flat knitting that was demonstrated on its CMS 420 E using spandex as the plating yarn.

Stoll’s knit design software has advanced so that the designer and technician can see three views of the structure simultaneously, including the fabric simulation, the technical/machine view and the knit symbol view. Stoll also has enhanced its software with Shape Sizer and Shape Editor modules for more automatic knitting design preparation. Once the design has been prepared, the Sintral module of the M1Plus® pattern software checks the design and knitting setup to validate that knitting can proceed, and calculates knitting time and yarn consumption. Many software enhancements are a result of collaboration between Stoll and Italy-based ENEAS Informatica S.r.l., according to Gerhard Berger, head of marketing services, Stoll.

Another significant trend in v-bed knitting is the introduction of finer-gauge machines so that 18-gauge knitting has become a common flat-knitting gauge.

Continuing its development of WHOLEGARMENT® knitting machines, Shima Seiki Mfg. Ltd., Japan, introduced a new compact version featuring the slide needle on four needle beds. This unit is designed for higher productivity operating at 1.6 meters per second, according to Robert Lehrich, technical support. The new machine, named “Prototype Machine,” — based on the architecture of the SWG-X Wholegarment machine — requires less operating space and features a lower overall height, and can also be used by manufacturers for small production runs and sampling.

Shima Seiki also introduced a new range of flat-knitting machines to replace its SES series. The new SSG and SIG machines offer shaping technology, high quality and cost performance. The SV type offers WideGauge variable gauge technology, permitting differing stitch sizes to be incorporated within different areas of the same garment.

Shima Seiki has improved its warp/weft hybrid machine over the version introduced two years ago at IKME in Milan. The machine, known as LAPIS, integrates guides that wrap the warp-inserted yarn around selected needles in a manner similar to the wrap knitting process used on circular knitting machines.

The new SIP-160F flat-bed digital printer allows the garment manufacturer to digitally print garments and garment blanks using the adjustable printing-head height. Designs for digital printing are prepared on the SDS-ONE design system. The printer can accommodate larger items than its predecessor and now can print items as large as dresses and coats.

The new SFG fine-gauge glove machine from Shima Seiki uses the well-established glove seamless technology, but now in 18 gauge. The gloves from this finer gauge are found particularly in such applications as high-precision assembly work and medical applications.

Future Opportunities
Knitting technology continues to offer opportunities and solutions for both the fabric and end-product manufacturers. As an industry, knitwear is still at an early stage of 3-D manufacturing, even though ITMA 2007 offered many practical applications for today’s manufacturer. Although the flat v-bed knitting manufacturers have led this era of complete garment development over the past two decades in particular, there are now sufficient advances in circular seamless knitting to enable application of many solutions. In addition, the advances in computerization continue to show more and more solutions that make knitting more flexible, more design-friendly and more predictable from a manufacturing schedule perspective. Further advances in integration of all aspects of the process from design to consumer will continue its inevitable evolution in all types of knitting.

The relentless progress towards fine-gauge knitting is truly impressive and will impose a new demand upon the yarn producer to provide yarns that knit efficiently, and a new demand on the yarn furnishing device to provide solutions for increasingly accurate systems for yarn control during knitting.

Dyeing, Printing & Finishing

By Dr. Peter Hauser, Technical Editor

ITMA 2007 followed the trend established by previous ITMAs in that products shown by exhibitors generally demonstrated gradual incremental improvements in performance rather than truly breakthrough technologies.

Preparation
New trends in finishing preparation follow in accordance with other wet processing technology trends: faster production rates; less water usage; and more efficient energy usage. A major focus by many of the companies was also in how the fabric is handled. Spray systems for chemical application or washing are being challenged with more innovative, softer, less abrasive and more effective methods. There were a few examples of altogether new technologies, as well as old technologies reworked into new, more feasible processing methods that have been reintroduced.

The majority of innovations in the preparation arena were in wet pickup methods, wetting or rinsing function of fabrics or improved filtration, which leads to reduced water usage. Little was marketed in size add-on innovations. Washing methods are becoming more diverse among companies. Many ITMA exhibitors marketed new advancements in washing, each seemingly developing its own new way of rinsing fabrics for size removal or post-dye rinsing, each one varying more and more from standard spray bar techniques. Bleaching and scouring equipment seemed to have more incremental improvements rather than totally new treatment methods.

One area of emerging technology that many companies are increasingly becoming interested in is plasma treatment. Italy-based Arioli S.p.A. displayed its new plasma equipment, considered still to be in the developmental/experimental stages. However, the technology seems to be very promising as a potential new step in preparation treatment of many fabrics. Arioli’s current marketing focus for the equipment is in pre-dye treatment for preparing anything from man-made- to natural-fiber fabrics in formats from nonwovens to knits. The dielectric barrier discharge system is produced using an applied electrical current, operates at atmospheric pressure, and runs on air — or other inert gases or desired gas mixes. The added benefit to the fabric, depending on the fiber type, is the increased dye uptake and wettability, ability to obtain a hydrophobic or oleophobic surface, and increased adhesion with certain finishing compounds. Because Arioli considers this technology still to be in the research phase, it is important to note the claims made may be based on minimal, statistically based results.

An example of a newly relaunched technology came from Italy-based Lafer S.p.A. Macchine Tessili. Liquid ammonia mercerization is an older concept that was developed in the 1930s but was later abandoned due to the complexities of processing and dangers of handling liquid ammonia. Lafer recently developed a safer, more feasible system of handling ammonia, called Permafix. The marketed advantage of this system over typical caustic mercerization systems is that the final product will have built into the fabric permanent-press functionality that can withstand wrinkling and will increase the crease recovery properties of the product. This can be particularly valuable with 100-percent cotton products and may even eliminate the need for further processing that focuses on setting in a permanent-press function. The system does require increased dwell times, thus possibly increasing the amount of floor space required for processing. The processing time is also limited by the speed of the ammonia recovery system. The disadvantage of this system is the ever-inherent danger of ammonia and the negative influence this can have on a company that is focused on being environmentally friendly.

Moenus Textilmaschinen GmbH, Germany, debuted its Sucker Comsize II system that promises uniform, repeatable, controllable size add-on through computer-controlled and -monitored systems. Its Telecoll control system offers constant size add-on irrelevant of the wetting property of the yarn, viscosity and temperature of the sizing liquor used, squeeze-roll quality and temperature, and thread number or density of the yarn. The system also boasts squeeze-roll pressure relief during breaking, uniform pressure throughout the length of the squeeze roll, and a newly structured roller surface that reduces hairiness and increases wettability. This system makes enticing promises; however, it is largely based on automated controls. This leads to an increasingly more complex system, as well as questions as to how the system will respond to variations in size material, such as wax content.

Moenus also displayed a new pretreatment unit, the Convi-tex-P, that offers a wide range of versatility. The unit has separate compartment applications with counterflow liquor control in each compartment, along with independent zone control. In conjunction with doctor-bar or spray-bar add-ons, the system is capable of performing multiple functions — washing, desizing and bleaching, for example — within one unit. Some concerns here are contamination within zones, which could lead to decreased effectiveness; as well as the lack of accumulators between zones, which inhibits the ability to stop one step momentarily to investigate issues. This one-step method also can lead to improperly prepared fabric because the fabric is less able to be inspected after each step of the process. It does, however, reduce space and equipment cost.

Morrison Textile Machinery Co., Fort Lawn, S.C., has released a new washer unit that focuses on reducing spray bar drip patterns formed during removal of higher-weight solids. The system, SLE-HED, uses angular deflectors located at the top of the wash box between each upper roller. This deflective action imparts higher kinetic energy to the water, which results in a more effective wash cycle. Immersion wave rolls can be added in the system to allow for better penetration of water through the fabric by creating open channels behind the roller, which will allow for water to pass through.

Along similar lines, Goller Textilmaschinen GmbH, Germany, has introduced a new line of washing systems focused on washing a wide range of fabrics, ranging from delicate knits to heavy wovens. Its Sintensa system utilizes a perforated roller submerged in a bath. Inside the perforated roller, a variable star-shaped roller with multiple angles spins at a slightly higher speed. This roller creates a frequency that forces water through the perforated roller and thus through the fabric. This reduces pattern formation caused by dripping through spray-bar-type systems, as well as increases water penetration through the fabric for an improved rinsing effect.

Goller also is marketing its Star Trans system, which utilizes a roller with large steel plates protruding from the roll to create troughs around the roll. Fabric is fed into the separate troughs, and dwell time in the troughs can be set based on the trough size and fabric dimensions, among other parameters. An innovative wastewater recovery system is available that, when used in conjunction with these systems, is capable of using only one-third the amount of water usually needed in standard washing processes.

Switzerland-based Benninger AG also is capitalizing on wastewater recovery efforts. Its new filtration process utilizes ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis to reclaim up to 95 percent of water used in desizing and scouring processes.

When considering innovations in overall equipment size reduction, Germany-based Küsters Textile GmbH’s new TurboJet system is a top contender. This system utilizes a pressurized steam unit that operates at 100°C to increase water turbulence. A fabric is passed up on one side and down on the other within close proximity inside two heated plates as the steam/water mix is fed in from the top between the fabric at the top rollers, as well as from the backside of the fabric at the top of the heated plates. This effectively washes both sides of the fabric without a spray bar unit in a short range of space. One unit contains two passes for a highly effective wash. One disadvantage of this system is that it requires pressurization, which may be increasingly difficult to maintain as the system ages. However, space-critical setups can greatly benefit from this system, as well as processes requiring a thorough wash with potentially heavy add-ons.

Karl Menzel Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co., Germany, has improved its chemical add-on process in scouring and bleaching by removing the chemical pad-on trough and adding the chemicals directly on top of two squeeze rollers. This allows for more precise add-on controls as the pre-wet fabric is immediately exposed to the specific treatment without atmospheric exposure, as well as a higher achieved liquor exchange rate.

Menzel has provided some incremental improvements to many of its other lines as well, including singeing, steaming and mercerizing machinery. Independently controlled burners with a separate gas combustion analyzer maximize the air-to-gas ratio for increased efficiency in fuel usage during singeing. Menzel has improved its washing process by adding another set of rollers on the top section of the wash box, forcing water through the fabric for a second time to increase water penetration through the fabric, thus increasing the wash effectiveness.

The company also introduced an A-frame mercerization system, called the Mini mercerizer, which is designed for treatment of small lots. Menzel also introduced the Optimax, a new wet-on-wet applicator. The design of the Optimax allows for a minimum of liquor content in the wedge and the possibility of maximum or minimum liquor application depending on the concept of the application squeezer. The Optimax eliminates the titration of bleaching liquids because of the add-on principle of impregnation for pretreatment processes. This machine offers uniform and easily reproducible liquor application with a precise, pneumatic pressure system that features a mechanical margin-setting device. Menzel also improved its singeing machinery by implementing touch-screen controls.

Mezzera, part of Italy-based H.T.P. Unitex S.p.A., displayed a chainless, roller-driven preparation range for knits, with each roller having an independent motor for specifically controlled tension. The bottom rollers in this system are slightly grooved from the middle heading outwards to keep the fabric open at a set tension in the widthwise direction. The application of chemicals is still achieved by a top-driven squeeze-roll configuration. This system is an advancement towards doing away with typical chain mercerization frames handling delicate knits, but there will still be a need for more research in order to eliminate chain-driven systems throughout textile processing. One downside to this system is that defective or damaged rolls could easily throw the tension off and create problems or patterns in the fabric. Also, independent motors potentially mean a higher cost of running and repair.

Dyeing
Moenus-Sucker presented slasher dyeing machinery for indigo as well as other dyes, with a new automatic program for dosing dyes for improved shade control. The company expects an upturn in sales of indigo-dyeing equipment in 2008, especially in India, Turkey and Pakistan.

Indigo dyeing was also addressed by Morrison with its Spectrum™ Indigo Dye Box. The FCS Process System on the Indigo Dye Box continuously monitors critical dyeing parameters and alerts operators to deviations from recipe set points. Additional enhancements to Morrison offerings include an improved gas burner for singeing and more efficient washing on its continuous dye ranges.

Küsters exhibited an improved S-Roll for continuous dyeing. The improved roll has electronic pad pressure control and a new rubber coating called BlueNip with better chemical resistance. The Küsters DyePad with two new S-Rolls provides the dyer with an expanded pad pressure range and online control of the padding process.

Beneks Machine produces dyeing machines in Turkey. Its products offer excellent control of the dyeing process with heat exchangers optimized for batch size. Liquor ratios of 5:1 are standard, with a ratio of 4:1 possible with polyester dyeings.

Gaston Systems Inc., Stanley, N.C., presented an exciting new development in indigo dyeing. The Formula N process applies foamed reduced indigo to desized fabrics. Multiple foam applicators operating under a nitrogen atmosphere produce indigo dye effects on a variety of fabrics with lower capital investment, operating costs and effluent treatment costs than other processes while offering greater styling potential.

Hong Kong-based Fong's Industries Co. Ltd. includes the Hong Kong-based Fong's National Engineering Co. Ltd. and Germany-based Then Maschinen GmbH dyeing machinery companies, among other companies. Fong's exhibited the Jumboflow and Eco-88D piece-dyeing machines, and the Allwin package-dyeing machine. The Jumboflow can dye up to 280 kg per dyeing tube - up to 12 tubes - with an extremely efficient heat exchanger, and allows the cooling and rinse cycles to be combined, saving water, time and energy. The Eco-88D is designed for light- to mediumweight fabrics made from man-made fibers and has two dyeing compartments in a single-tube machine. Spray nozzles inside the dyeing compartments reduce friction between fabric and metal and lessen fabric defects arising from fabric rubbing bare metal. The Allwin dyeing machine allows liquor ratios of 1:4 with a variety of fibers in package, cheese, cone, hank or loose fiber form. An integrated circulating system reduces space requirements by up to 25 percent compared to conventional machinery arrangements.

Then presented the Airflow Lotus, the latest development in its Airflow technology. This dyeing machine, with reduced water and energy requirements, is specially designed to wet-process delicate fabrics, knits and fabrics with high levels of elastane.

The Athena H fabric-dyeing machine is the latest development from Sclavos S.A., Greece. Designed to dye delicate fabrics, the Athena H offers low operating costs and reduced water and energy consumption. Other Sclavos products featured include the Athena T dyeing machine for towels and the DSTS innovative dry salt transfer system for adding salt to fiber-reactive dyeings without increasing liquor-to-fabric ratios.

Intertrad Ltd., London, formerly part of Sclavos, displayed the L2B-100, a laboratory dyeing machine that accurately simulates production dyeings with as little as 30 grams of fabric. Dyeing processes developed with the L2B-100 have been shown to transfer to production-scale machinery with a 95-percent "right first time" accuracy.

The package-dyeing machines offered by Galvanin S.r.l., Italy, operate at liquor ratios as low as 3.5:1 and are available with automated loading and unloading. The energy required for drying has been reduced owing to improved centrifuges and dryers.

The VDU process controller from Italy-based MCS Dyeing and Finishing Machinery S.p.A. provides real-time displays of dye and salt concentrations and dyebath pH. The temperature gradient, hold time and rinsing steps are automatically adjusted and optimized depending on the dye concentration in the bath.

Germany-based Thies GmbH & Co. KG's motto, "Water is for living, not for dyeing," adequately states this company's commitment to reducing the amount of water needed for dyeing. This focus was seen in the improvements in the Thies' product line of fabric- and yarn-dyeing equipment displayed, which included the Luft-Roto short-liquor dyeing machine, the HT/AT jig and the Eco-Bloc Quattro yarn-dyeing machine. The MPS Colourmatic dye dissolving system continues the commitment.

Three new fabric-dyeing machines were introduced by Italy-based Brazzoli S.p.A. The Innoflow® EXL and Multiflow® MUST incorporate Brazzoli's patented transverse dyebath circulation with a 1:3 liquor ratio. This circulation pattern provides more fabric-bath interactions leading to greater efficiencies in dyeing and washing. The Beam-Jigger® combines beam and jig-dyeing technology in one machine and employs a control system that varies the pump speed to compensate for differences in fabric thickness.

Printing
Hangzhou Kaiyuan Computer Technology Co. Ltd., China, showed the Rainbow ink-jet printer, which the company reports offers speed and quality. The Rainbow 1800 6SM model printer produces six 1.8-meter-wide color prints at 30 square meters per hour (m2/hr) with reactive and disperse inks at 720 dots-per-inch (dpi) resolution. Automatic tension control cloth feeding enables a variety of fabrics to be printed.

The transfer-printing machines offered by Italy-based Monti Antonio S.p.A. are only manufactured in Italy, assuring a high level of quality and reliability. An optional vacuum feature provides deep penetration of ink for fabrics requiring images on both sides. The heated cylinders of the Mod 72 printing calender give very uniform heating - to +/- 1°C - to guarantee level printing results.

Zimmer Textile Technology GmbH, Austria, provides a full range of printing machines - flat-screen, rotary-screen and ink-jet. The ZTT Textile Eagle 2.6 is an eight-color ink-jet printer that can print 2.6-meter-wide fabric at speeds of 42 to 81 m2/hr. The company also exhibited its Quickfix preparation and heat-treatment machine for textile ink-jet printing.

The Artistri™ 2020 and 3320 ink-jet printers were highlighted by DuPont Imaging Technologies, Wilmington, Del. These printers, manufactured by Ichinose, have printable widths of 1.8 and 3.3 meters respectively, and offer speeds of up to 40 m2/hr for 760 dpi at two passes. DuPont, a leader in ink-jet technology, has made the marketing decision to sell its inks to other printer manufacturers.

Italy-based Reggiani Macchine S.p.A.'s DReAM ink-jet printer has an improved ink system that will allow a complete ink changeover in less than eight hours. The DReAM printer now also has an improved electronic control system that permits unlimited print length. The speed of the DReAM remains impressive, from 160 to 350 m2/hr at 600 dpi for six process colors - seven print heads per color. A new dryer has been fitted to the printer, and screen printing of glitter or metallic inks over the printed ink-jet design is possible. Reggiani's Unica rotary screen printer is designed for economical and versatile rotary printing of short production lots. The Unica has an on-machine washing system for cleaning screens between color changes, which reduces downtime significantly.

Stork Prints BV, the Netherlands, exhibited several products for both rotary-screen and ink-jet printing. The bestLEN 641x and the ecoLEX 683x rotary-screen engravers provide screen engraving at higher speeds with no reduction in screen quality. The bestLEN 641x and the ecoLEX 683x use carbon dioxide and ultraviolet lasers, respectively, for engraving. The Pegasus CC rotary screen printer offers Print@Change, a feature that allows one design to be removed while another is printing. The Print@Wash feature enables screens and squeegees to be washed while another design is printing. Stork's Pegasus OR2 is an improved version of the earlier OR model, producing higher-quality prints at lower cost. Its RD 8 rotary screen printer is designed for economical performance in high-volume operations. The ink-jet print line from Stork includes the Jade, Topaz, Tourmaline and Ruby V models that can print fabrics 1.6 to 2.25 meters wide at 720 dpi and speeds of up to 30 m2/hr.

The Monna Lisa ink-jet printer from Italy-based F.lli Robustelli S.r.l. is offered with new print heads - eight colors per head with 1,024 nozzles per head. This high-speed printer can produce 720-by-720-dpi prints at speeds approaching 100 m2/hr with 1.6-meter-wide fabric.

Austria-based J. Zimmer Maschinenbau GmbH's ChromoJET ink-jet printer series is suitable for printing fabrics such as carpets, upholstery, towels and felt products. All Zimmer machines are custom-built from standard components to guarantee that all customer requirements are met. The Zimmer magnet system for rotary screen printers can now be retrofitted into printers from other manufacturers.

Pigment inks from Yuhan-Kimberly Ltd., Korea, are referred to as "nano" inks because of their very small particle size of less than 100 nanometers. This small size allows for a high level of color saturation in prints. The Yuhan Kimberly UJET MC2 printer uses these inks and unique fiber-reactive inks, as well as acid and disperse inks, to provide flexibility and economy in printing a wide variety of fabrics.

Drying And Finishing
Italy-based Stalam S.p.A. showed its new, larger radio-frequency (RF) dryer. The RF 150-kilowatt (kW) dryer measures 10.5 meters long by 2.4 meters wide by 3.7 meters high and can handle more than 1,000 kg/hr of man-mades, more than 500 kg/hr of wool and cotton blends, or more than 300 kg/hr of cotton and viscose blends. At the maximum RF power of 150 kW, the dryer can evaporate an average of 1.2 to 1.3 kg of water per kW-hour at a work frequency of 27.12 megahertz. This dryer combines RF and hot-air technology by passing hot air through the package from the inside out and using RF on the outside of the package only to agitate the water molecule in the yarn.

Italy-based Loris Bellini S.p.A. showed two new dryers for dyed yarn, a high-flow-rate atmospheric dryer and a high-pressure dryer. These dryers offer new heat exchangers, cooling exchangers and condensers that are more compact for increased efficiency. They are able to recover 90 to 95 percent of the energy put into the system. The ARAO and ARAV high-flow-rate atmospheric dryers can handle 130 to 1,500 kg of yarn in a normal load. The dryers also utilize software that allows the dyer to control the residual humidity in the yarn package at a preset rate. This system avoids the risks of poor- or overdrying that can occur in normal drying cycles. The ARSPO and ARSPV high-pressure dryers combine hydroextraction and drying principles into one machine. These dryers work at a static pressure of 5.0 bar and offer rapid drying cycles, the highest being 60 minutes for cotton yarn packages at 120°C. These new models feature a smaller 132-kW motor in a 500-kg dryer, for improved energy savings.

Alliance Machines Textiles, France, displayed its Zephyra ZM 60 air-jet finishing machine, which processes all types of woven and knit fabrics in rope form. The machine uses air nozzles to transport the fabric through the machine, open the fabric and apply an air action on the fabric at very high speeds, thus providing a tumbling effect. The Zephyra is available in sizes that can handle 60, 150, or — in a two-tube design — 300 kg of fabric. The effect of the machine can be customized depending on the desired hand and end-use of the fabric. The machine can handle both dry and wet treatments; and extensive chemical or enzymatic processes can be done for both the preparation and finishing of fabric. The Zephyra can run at upwards of 800 m/min, depending on the type of fabric run.

Fong’s has a range of tensionless dryers for knit and woven fabrics in both open-width and tubular forms. Its range of Best Shrinkage Dryers (BSDs) operates from widths of 2 to 3.2 meters and can handle 190 to 1,300 kg/hr, respectively. The BSD dryers feature a nozzle system that moves the fabric in a sinusoidal pattern to release stress in the fibers and results in the best shrinkage in both the cross and machine directions of the fabric, according to Fong’s. The smallest dryer, BSD-S2, has a total installed power of 31 kW, and the largest, BSD-S8, has a total installed power of 200 kW.

Italy-based Flainox S.r.l. promoted its Multifinish air-jet finisher. This machine is for the treatment of cord fabrics and features a distending action that improves softness and volume without beating the fabric against grills or sections. The Multifinish machines have an installed power of 80 to 120 kW, depending on the model. The Multi 4/S, the largest machine available, has an average drying capacity of 500 liters per hour (l/hr) for wet fabric and 250 l/hr for centrifuged fabric. All Multifinish machines run at a speed of 50 m/min.

Lemaire S.a.r.l., France, offers a range of calenders that can be used for transfer-printing, laminating, heat-setting, metal foil lamination, waxing, calendering and heat-bonding. The company offers six ranges of differing widths, roll diameters and speeds. Lemaire's core technology is based on its heating cylinders, which feature double chambers. The use of thermo-oil and no contact between the heating elements and the working cylinder ensure the most even heating, to +/-1°C of the preset heat.

Switzerland-based Benninger AG's MDS Prozesstechnik GmbH division showcased its membrane technology for process optimization, wastewater recycling, and evaporation of contaminated caustic soda solutions used in denim processing. MDS offers ceramic membrane systems for additional cost savings through energy recovery on hot processing ranges. Its recycling technologies can be integrated into running process ranges with high efficiency and low energy consumption.

Morrison had a number of new and exciting things to show. Its YieldMAX™ software works with sanforizors and compressive shrinkage ranges to better control shrinkage. This system marks the fabric with an invisible mark, which is checked every 2 meters - the interval is changeable - to keep the system accurate and reliable. The software can also database the information by shift, lot and operator, for example.

Morrison also displayed the GrindVAC™, a new software-controlled rubber-roll resurfacing system that does multiple small grinds on a more frequent basis. The GrindVAC offers grind times of less than two hours, compared to the usual eight to 10 hours, with extremely accurate belt thicknesses. This fully automatic, closed-loop system grinds without talc or water and can be retrofitted onto existing machines or used with Morrison’s range of sanforizors.

Biancalani S.p.A., Italy, displayed the latest generation of its Airo® series of finishing machines, the Airo 24, which is able to impart the known Airo hand effect in continuous and open-width form. It operates at a width of 360 centimeters and a speed of 40 m/min, and is able to dry and soften fabrics at a capacity of 600 kg/hr at a maximum of 200°C. With its high drying capacity and intense mechanical effect, the machine can reach high productivity levels even on heavy fabrics such as terrycloth without a predrying step. The Airo 24 can be used for all fiber types and fabric constructions, for applications such as home textiles, automotive textiles, shirting and apparel, and upholstery. This machine also improves hand on printed textiles and offers an environmentally friendly option because it doesn’t use chemicals, apart from optional softeners.

Germany-based Brückner Trockentechnik GmbH & Co. KG had a number of new machines on display at ITMA. Its Power-Frame tenter can be heated through direct or indirect gas heat, or thermo-oil. The tenter features Brückner’s split-flow air circulation system, which offers the highest performance in drying. The Power-Frame also can save up to 30 percent in energy costs with its improved Eco-Heat heat-recovery and energy-saving concepts. The entry point to the tenter features a new straightener that minimizes the fabric path to the pin-on point, and has independently driven belts that can be adjusted to control S distortion, and an integrated weft straightener. The Power-Frame also features new suction nozzles in the buffer zone that work to pull hot air through the fabric for a better drying effect and higher temperature stability.

Brückner also provided literature on its new Power-Slit, Power-Stretch and Power-Compact ranges. The Power-Slit is a new machine concept for frictionless and tensionless slitting of circular-knit fabrics at speeds of up to 100 m/min and an installed power of 25 kW. The Power-Stretch offers the ability to dewater, apply softener and overstretch on one machine. Its production speeds range from 60 to 80 m/min with an overstretching ratio of 0 to 35 percent. The Power-Compact ranges can be combined with padders and tenters to process up to 12 tons of fabric per day at a working speed of up to 50 m/min.

A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, offered 13 new products and solutions at ITMA 2007. Its most prominent new technology includes the Montex 6500 Allround; a new Toptex/Monfortex compressive shrinking unit; a new “tumble” action DynAir relaxation dryer; Hercules Golden long-life tentering chains; an integrated infrared predryer; a new coating solution; an online service portal; a stand-alone heat-recovery system; a combined exhaust-air cleaning and heat-recovery system; a new soft coatings solution; and improved treatments for knitted fabrics.

The new Montex 7000 TT is a completely new finishing concept specifically developed for coatings and technical textiles to provide the highest product quality with absolutely uniform drying. The new Montex 6500 Allround tenter is a multifunctional tenter and relaxation system offering a two-in-one product, reducing investment costs and space requirements, and providing increased flexibility.

Monforts has completely redesigned the Toptex/Monfortex 8000 compressive shrinking unit for both woven and knitted fabrics. It offers increased residual shrinkage, higher production speeds, automatic grinding and a 40-percent reduction in water consumption for cooling. Its integrated infrared predryer offers increased productivity and enhanced performance for pigment-dyeing processes. Pregelling of foams is assured with the new predryer installed at the front-end in-feed of the Montex tenter.

Finally, the stand-alone Energy Tower 7000 is a new heat-recovery option for thermo-treatment machines and Montex tenters where space above the unit is restricted by low ceilings. The stand-alone cabinet installed alongside the thermo-treatment machines features five integrated heat-recovery modules, capitalizing on the high temperature of the exhaust air. Savings of up to 30 percent in energy costs can be achieved.

Gaston Systems promoted its chemical foam system (CFS®). This highly controlled and patented system accurately applies foamed water-soluble or water-dispersible chemicals at very low moisture levels into or onto textile or paper substrates. The system offers energy savings of up to 60 percent because there is less water in the fabric to evaporate, thus eliminating predrying. The CFS parabolic applicator assures uniform application across the substrate, and the chemicals can be applied on the back and face simultaneously. CFS is able to achieve precise and uniform application of chemicals to open-width substrates at wet pick-up levels as low as 5 percent and at speeds of more than 3,000 feet per minute. Gaston Systems reports experience has shown that payback for a complete CFS range usually comes within six to 18 months.

Lafer displayed a large number of improved and new mechanical finishers, ranging from sueding machines to open-width compactors. Its CMI-100 shearing machine has been completely re-engineered and features a two-fold increase in running speed, and a self-sharpening system that allows for the blade to be sharpened without being removed. Lafer’s open-width compactors feature Kevlar® felt in place of a rubber belt, which gives a better hand and appearance while at the same time being gentler to the fabric. The Lafer compactor for tubular fabrics has an updated automation system that automatically adjusts for fabric skew in the machine.

Lafer also has made improvements in its Ultrasoft sueding machines, which come in models for open-width wovens and knits, tubular fabrics, and high-speed open-width. The brushes are improved with more abrasive bristles, which are easily interchangeable for differing effects. The micro-sanding effect of the Ultrasoft machines can be attained at a maximum of 35 m/min on the high-speed machine.

Italy-based Salvadé S.r.l. featured two machines at the show. The Mach 5 machine is a high-capacity, compact tumbler and dryer for open-width fabrics. It is a continuous movement machine that offers an output of 8 tons of fabric per day at 20 m/min for jersey knits, and has a working width of either 2,000 or 3,400 millimeters and an installed power of 115 kilovolts for a two-section machine. Salvadé also featured a steamer designed for post-digital-printing applications. The steamer has a number of important features, such as the ability to heat quickly to 180°C, lower steam consumption, continuous fabric movement and even steam chamber temperature. The steamer has a maximum working width of 4 meters, maximum speed of 50 m/min, and an installed power of 20 kW.

Dollfus & Muller S.a.s., France, featured a number of new belts and felts for compressive shrinkage. The I-10 belt for nonwovens is engineered to be antistatic and nonmarking on fabrics. Its belts for screen-printing are new for the printing dryers and feature new, reinforced edges that make the belt last longer. For shirting knits for applications such as T-shirts, Dollfus & Muller has a new compacting felt, which helps improve fabric hand and compacting ratio. For denim, the company has a new compacting felt constructed from polyacrylonitrile that improves hand and drying for the denim fabric.

Santex Group International AG, Switzerland, showed four re-engineered and improved machines. Its Cheetah open-width compacting machine is already in use in Italy, and the company reports it is the fastest and highest-performing compactor ever made. It performs well on knits and wovens alike, and does not mechanically force fabric shrinkage. Santex added features to its Santashrink relaxation drying lines, such as added drying capacity to the Super Jumbo model. It also features energy-saver packages with high-efficiency motors and variable speed of air at the nozzles. The Santashrink also features the SantAccess software package, which allows for bar-code handling and communication to most enterprise resource planning systems. Santex also fully re-engineered its Santasoft open-width tumble dryer to increase performance and reduce the price. This machine is suitable for softening and shrinking in warp and weft directions and is even highly productive with heavyweight fabrics.

The Cavitec division of Santex showed its Cavimelt Plus rotogravure hotmelt-printing machine, featuring a newly developed add-on coating head. This machine allows for full coating of extremely fine-weight fabrics and gives uniform and reproducible results, according to the company.

Italy-based Unitech Textile Machinery S.p.A.’s Comet division showed its new Pegasus X3 patented brushing machinery. The X3 offers brushing options for all open-width and tubular fabrics and is the only machine on the market that can do both with no changeover required. Both of Comet’s patents on this machine cover features designed to save the customer money. Its abrasive brushes are designed in removable strips instead of sleeves for easy changeover/brush-mixing and cost reduction for replacements. The second patent is on its pressure-brushing principle. External pressure is applied from a contact to push the fabric against the brush for higher-intensity and higher-tension brushing. This way, there is no need to stretch or distort the fabric. Comet claims there is 10-percent less stretching for fleeces and 16- to 26-percent less stretching for other fabric types.

Unitech’s Pentek division promoted its enAIRgy XL tumbling dryer. This machine offers an exclusive continuous tumbling process. The enAIRgy XL can run from 3 to 50 m/min and features air pressure movement from two valves. Because this machine only uses air movement, there is no need for tension or stress. The machine can operate with rope or open-width fabrics and features an internationally patented crashing effect, which is the secret of the enAIRgy XL’s volumizing and softening effect. The machine can be powered by thermo-oil, steam or natural gas and has an installed power of 114 kW. Pentek also gave out literature on its new Trippo tumbling dryer, featuring a blowing device that opens up the rope and avoids the traditional creases and knots in the rope, even on delicate goods. These machines have a large capacity and can handle up to 400 metric tons with a four-tumbler machine. At a maximum operating temperature of 130°C, the Trippo has an average power consumption of 8 kW and an installed electric power of 10 kW.


Editor’s Note: North Carolina State University College of Textiles Department of Textile and Apparel Technology and Management graduate students Bradley James and Barry Roe assisted with the dyeing, printing and finishing section of this review.

November/December 2007

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