Adoption Of 3D Knitting And Other Technologies In Fabric Manufacturing

3 Jan, 2020

Fabrics manufacturers are increasingly using 3D knitting machines to knit textiles. A 3D knitting machine uses information stored in a digital file to knit textiles using different yarns simultaneously. Textiles manufactured using this technology do not have seams or stitches and help save time and labor costs. This technology also allows for easy customization based on customer preferences, and reduces yarn wastage. Shima Seiki, a Japanese company, is offering its whole garment specialty 3D knitting machine with a maximum knitting speed of 1.6 meters per second. 3D knitting machines can be adopted by fabric manufactures to improve fabric quality and reduce labor costs.

The global knitted fabrics market was estimated at $58.4 billion in 2019, and is expected to grow to $66.9 billion in 2022 at an annual growth rate of 4.6%. Technological advances such as 3D knitting, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) will help drive market growth.

Knitted fabrics manufacturers are increasingly using artificial intelligence in fabrics manufacturing processes. Artificial intelligence is being used to predict the quality and properties of fabric using yarn, fiber and fabric constructional data before the fabric is actually manufactured. Also, the selection of an appropriate shade of color, and quality control during dyeing and printing can be achieved using artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is also being used for quality inspection of fabrics. The WiseEye fabric defect detection system developed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in 2018 uses artificial intelligence to detect manufacturing faults and helps minimize losses.

Knitted fabrics manufacturers are increasingly using Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the manufacturing processes to improve production efficiencies. Knitting machines embedded with IoT sensors are being connected to the internet enabling real time monitoring of manufacturing facilities. IoT technology is also being used for predictive maintenance of machinery in fabric manufacturing facilities. Real time data collected from knitting machines also helps in optimized production planning. For instance, fabric knitting and cutting machines manufacturer, Shima Seiki’s knitting machines can be connected to the company’s proprietary product lifecycle management software for efficient production management. BMSvision’s KnitMaster system helps monitor and manage machinery in knitting mills and also aids in yarn inventory management.

Knitted fabrics manufacturers are also increasingly adopting other advanced technologies such as digital printing and nanotechnology to cater to complex requirements of end-users. Digital printing is the process that prints a design or pattern directly onto the surface of the fabric after being processed on the computer. Digital printing in the fabric manufacturing market is currently growing at over 17% due to high demand for durable, non-soluble and damage resistant materials. Nanotechnology is allowing manufacturers to produce scientific fabrics, which are water-repellent, self-cleaning, or fire-repellent fabrics that are in high demand from the specialty uniform manufacturing industry. Examples of companies that produce nanotechnology fabrics include Aspen Aerogel – which produces fabrics enhanced with nanopores that insulate against heat or cold, and NanoHorizons – which produces fabrics enhanced with silver nanoparticles that reduce odor.