We should start by explaining what “KNITTED FABRIC” is and what are its main features. Knitted fabric is made by taking a section of yarn and folding it over to form a loop during the fabric manufacturing process.There are two main types of knitting machines:
|Weft knitting machines||Warp knitting machines|
Both systems use needles that cross over one another, creating the stitches and the direction:
|The “rows” or the warp threads|
|The “ranks”, i.e. the threads running in the direction of the weft|
The distance between the needles determines the “GAUGE”, expressed as the number of needles in a determined AREA. Regardless of the type of machine used, knitted fabrics always have 4 contact points: The empty space inside the loop is called the “COVER FACTOR”
and this is the key element to bear in mind at the design stage of any item but especially for the finishing.
With weft knitting machines, the yarn is worked in transversal ranks and the needles move individually on the circular beds. On flat bed machines, the needles move along with a bar.
The most popular types of knitted fabrics are:
- Stocking stitch
- Reverse stocking stitch
The most common products include:
- Polo shirts
- Stretch track suits
Chain knitted fabrics are made by wrapping the yarn onto beamsthe machine works in “rows” and the number of needles is the same as the number of threads.
The main characteristic is that the thread is tied into a knot so that the resulting fabric will avoid runs and this is why this type of fabric is also called “RUN-RESISTANT”.
The direction of the warp is completely blocked, and so this fabric is ideal for any application where it acts as an industrial support, where the stability of the fabric is an essential element.
The most used weaves are:
- Weaves with one-two-four combs
Popular products include:
- Supports that are coated or coupled with other products to make fabrics used for footwear, luggage, automotive applications, and abrasives.
With knitted fabrics, the first decision to make concerns the type of yarn(s): these are readily combined or joined together, especially with weft knitting machines and compared to the rigidity of shuttle-woven fabrics, in order to create a wide variety of versions and so meet the most challenging demands, unleashing the creativity of designers and manufacturers.
Although warp knitting machines are less flexible, they do offer some freedom for deciding the type of weave for the finished fabric. However, the productivity of this technology is very high and so it is more appropriate for larger order quantities of each item.
As we have seen, the main feature of this method of making fabrics is the natural elasticity achieved so these knitting machines are the best choice for making items that have to be very stretchy.
If a knitted fabric is made up in a stretch yarn, the resulting products will be ideal for many potential applications and be an excellent solution for technical underwear and outerwear, for sportswear including swimwear, apparel used in cycling, athletics, football, skiing and basketball, even for professional sports.
Certain protective clothing has to be as stretchy as possible.
Stretch fabrics are also used increasingly for visual communications, especially for stand design, for covering structures,
or for advertising using frames, where it is essential to use a material that can follow and cover shapes that are often not straight, without any creases or marks.
Knitted fabrics are being used in new industries and gaining more and more market share on account of their increasing potential for new applications.
What’s more, the increase in their applications in recent years has led to the industrialisation of products: the only way to curb costs.