Want to develop a knitted product? Contact us to talk through the feasibility of your idea and our senior technician will suggest the most appropriate way forward, the most suitable yarns and where to source them if required. Our Shima Seiki machines have seamless 3D, jacquard, intarsia and hybrid knitted/woven capabilities. We can also digitally print your designs onto knitwear and knitted panels.
The Textile and Design Lab has 6 state of the art Shima Seiki Apex 3 Design Systems that provide design, pattern making, 3D visualisation and knit programming software. The Apex 3 is often regarded as the most advanced knit-related system on the global market.
We have 4 Shima Seiki knitting machines capable of jacquard, intarsia, inlay and WholeGarment® (seamless) knitting:
- 14 gauge SES WG machine
- 14 gauge SIG intarsia machine
- 14 gauge SRY inlay machine
- 10 gauge SWG 041 machine
Developing a knitted product can be time consuming depending on the complexity of your design. It involves a design process, a programming process and a prototyping process. Because of the varying properties of yarns and knitted structures, it is common to have to knit several prototypes before the final sample is approved.
You can create your design for a knitted garment or product on our Shima Seiki Apex 3 Design System, or give us sketches or CAD drawings. Designs can range from simplistic to highly complex intarsia and jacquard patterning. If you'd like to learn more about designing for knitwear, please take a look at our short course and workshop page.
Our Shima Seiki electronic knitting machines are capable of producing cut and sew, fully fashioned and WholeGarment® (seamless) knitwear and knitted products. Make sure you give us specifications listing all the critical dimensions when you provide your design. We suggest making an appointment with our senior technician to talk through your requirements.
Once we have received your design, our senior technician will develop a knit programme using specialised software. This is an essential part of the knit development process and involves converting the design into a ‘language’ that the knitting machine can interpret to knit the desired product.
Knitting a prototype
Once we have received your yarn, we’ll produce a knit quality sample which will be steamed or wet finished so you can choose the ideal fabric appearance and handle. The process involves knitting 5 or 6 sections of a knitted panel each with varying stitch lengths, which cause the openness and handle of the fabric to vary.
The technician and/or client will then select the most desirable option. Once the knit quality has been established, we can then progress to the first prototype or sample.
Our electronic knitting machines have several capabilities:
Cut and sew
Cut and sew involves knitting continuous lengths of fabric, sometimes with integral ribbing for cuffs and welts, that are then cut into shaped panels and sewn together to create the final product. While this method is easy to process, it can be very wasteful, particularly if high value yarns are used.
The term fully fashioned implies that the panels of the garment or product are knitted to shape, which negates the need for cutting. The panels are then linked and sewn together to create a more aesthetically pleasing finish to the end product. As the panels are knitted to the required shapes, there is no waste material generated with this method.
Jacquard patterning allows complex multi coloured designs to be knitted but the ‘inactive’ yarns are floated or carried across the reverse side of the panel, which has the effect of increasing the weight and thickness of the panel or garment.
The lab’s Shima Seiki SIG 122 is an intarsia electronic knitting machine, which enables several colours of yarn to be knitted into intricate designs without the need to carry or float the ‘inactive’ yarns across the reverse side of the knitted panel. This means very lightweight panels can be knitted with complex multi-coloured designs. Our intarsia machine is also capable of producing knitted circuitry and sensors for electronic textile applications.
The lab’s SRY inlay machine has the capability of producing fine knitted fabrics into which coarse count yarns can be laid in to provide additional stability to the fabric/garment and produce mock-woven effects as well as technical fabrics with specific characteristics.
WholeGarment® is a registered trade mark of Shima Seiki Manufacturing Limited of Japan. The term is self-explanatory as garments, accessories and other products are knitted in a 3-dimensional seamless form, enabling an entire product to be produced without the need for assembly. The benefits of WholeGarment® include enhanced comfort due to the absence of seams, the exclusion of human error during the making up process and the cost benefits of being able to manufacture with minimal labour content – important in high-cost manufacturing countries where traditional textile and apparel skills are becoming scarcer.
Digitally printed knitwear is an ideal way of customising products and adding value by applying multi-coloured imagery direct to the panels or made up product.
A one-off development charge applies for each style. Thereafter, additional units of the same style are charged according to knitting time. If your project falls into the research and development category, we will need to charge an hourly development fee due to the uncertainty of time that will be required for the specific project. Contact us for the current price list. Full time non-AUT students are eligible for a 10% discount.
Developing one-off pieces is a significant part of the lab’s activities. Whether the product is for a stage or screen production, a personalised application, a special occasion, a competition or awards event, or a student project we’ll be happy to help you create your special piece.
Sampling is an essential part of the product development process that is often considered a nuisance to commercial manufacturers. The TDL is well equipped to deal with sample quantities even if bulk production is to be carried out by local or overseas manufacturers.
Small scale production
The lab has capacity to produce modest production runs. If the quantities are excessive or we consider them to be of a commercial scale, we’ll do our best to put you in touch with an industry knitter that is better placed to handle your production needs.