Knitted fabrics have been around for more than 1,000 years. Over the centuries, and particularly in the last 200 years, knitwear has become a cornerstone of the textile industry. Knitted socks were even the subject of an advertising campaign during World War I, when the American Red Cross orchestrated a poster campaign with the slogan “Our boys need sox, knit your bit.”
The Italian Job …
In the last 20 years, parallel to the development of cutting-edge software, flat and circular knitting machines have made tremendous progress. However, it was always the knitter’s dream, and in particular hosiery knitter’s dream, to produce seamless products for reasons such as time and money savings (as always). That was a very big challenge for the manufacturers of knitting machinery — to combine a standard circular knitting machine with the technology of a hosiery machine. The demand for seamless products was the outcome of a crisis and the subsequent large drop in production in the hosiery industrial segment in the 1980s. Santoni, as a member of the Italian Lonati group, accepted the challenge. At that time, Lonati introduced the LM1 machine, a prototype of knitting machine built using a technology that was similar to technology used in hosiery machines.
… Was A Revolution
The introduction of seamless products revolutionized global knitting production. Seamless was indeed an innovation and dream come true that allowed manufacturers to knit ready-made apparel — something totally different from what was produced before. The innovation became reality using two different series of (Santoni) machines: On the one side, single jersey SM8 machines; and on the other side, double jersey SM9 machines. This combination of machines opened a direct path to finished products ready to be put into retail distribution channels. Additionally, even more important for the producers, was the reduction of steps in the production process to a minimum, resulting in high savings of industrial and labor costs.
The innovation was the fusion of hosiery and knitting technology. In 1997, the Lonati Group diversified when Santoni’s core business focused on the development and the production of electronic circular knitting machines for “seamlesswear,” as it was called at that time.
Santoni was founded in 1919 as the first Italian manufacturer of machines for socks. In 1988, the company was acquired by the Lonati Group, one of the world leaders in the production of socks and pantyhose machinery. Since then the company has become the undisputed leader in the production of electronic knitting machines for garments without seams.
Talking to Patrick Silva, head of marketing at Santoni, on a recent trip to Brescia, he mentioned that seamless production was kind of a phenomenon. “Seamless production is at the same time strongly connected with the story and the evolution of Santoni as a Company,” Silva said. Today, the Lonati Group is present in 72 countries and claims to satisfy 97 percent of the global demand for seamlesswear machines. However, the company is active in different fields of applications such as underwear, sports, beach, medical and outerwear.
New Machine With High Production …
Silva also mentioned that Santoni recently launched a new high production seamless machine with very low energy consumption. At the same time, the company is modernizing its complete range of circular knitting seamless machines. “We have just launched on a global scale the completely updated SM8 TOP2V seamless machine,” Silva said. “This product will replace the current SM8 TOP2 model. It is a brand new machine with the latest concept that includes many exclusive patents. We offer with this machine exceptional productivity, which is on average 30 percent higher than the current model with incredible energy efficiency requiring the same floor space.” The product is said to incorporate an innovative technology combined with an improved ergonomic design for easy maintenance and service.
… And Reduced Energy Consumption
The machine is an electronic single jersey circular machine with eight feeds and two selection points per feed. Gauges range from 16 to a very fine 40. It is designed for the efficient production of single jersey seamless garments for under- and outerwear, beach- and sportswear as well as products for medical applications. Silva explained: “The SM8 TOP2V is not only about increased productivity. Our engineers also achieved an excellent low energy consumption level. If one combines all the advantages of this new model with a 15 percent lower energy consumption, the result is a machine with considerably improved environmental sustainability.”
Advanced materials are applied in the construction of the new model such as carbon fiber to reduce the movement of parts, resulting in lower energy consumption. The machine also is said to be very user friendly, with completely newly developed strategic knitting parts such as the yarn fingers group and a new sinker cap for top quality wool and natural yarn plating so that an improved final product fabric quality can be obtained. It seems the seamless success story will continue.
December 16, 2014