Fabrics of the future

Fabrics of the future

Swiss weaving machinery manufacturers are in the forefront of novel application development.

Shoes and electronic calculators are
probably not the first products people would associate with the textile weaving
process. But they certainly signpost the future for woven fabrics, as two
examples of the ever-wider possibilities of latest technology in the field.
Fashion and function already combine in the increasing popularity of woven
fabrics for shoes, and this is a present and future trend. Calculators in
fabrics? That’s another story of ingenious development, using so-called
‘meander fields’ on the back and keys printed on the front of the material.

These glimpses of the outlook for modern
weavers are among the highlights of developments now being pioneered by Swiss
textile machinery companies. All weaving markets require innovation, as well as
speed, efficiency, quality and sustainability. Member firms of the Swiss
Textile Machinery Association respond to these needs at every point in the
process – from tightening the first thread in the warp to winding the last inch
for fabric delivery. They also share a common advantage, with a leading
position in the traditional weaving industry as well as the expertise to foster
new and exciting applications.

Technology
and research cooperation

The concept of a ‘textile calculator’ was
developed by Jakob Müller Group, in cooperation with the textile research
institute Thuringen-Vogtland. Müller’s patented MDW® multi-directional weaving
technology is able to create the meander fields which allow calculator
functions to be accessed at a touch. A novel and useful facility, which
suggests limitless expansion.

Today, the latest woven shoes are
appreciated for their precise and comfortable fit. They score through their
durability, strength and stability, meeting the requirements of individual
athletes across many sports, as well as leisurewear. Stäubli is well known as a
leading global specialist in weaving preparation, shedding systems and
high-speed textile machinery. Its jacquard machines offer great flexibility
across a wide range of formats, weaving all types of technical textiles,
lightweight reinforcement fabrics – and shoes.

It’s possible to weave new materials such
as ceramics, mix fibres such as aramid, carbon and other, and produce
innovative multi-layers with variable thicknesses. Such applications put
special demands on weaving machines which are fulfilled by Stäubli
high-performance TF weaving systems.

Great weaving results are impossible
without perfect warp tension, now available thanks to the world-leading
electronic warp feeding systems of Crealet. Some market segments in weaving
industry today demand warp let-off systems which meet individual customer
requirements. For example, the company has recognized expertise to understand
that geotextile products often need special treatment, as provided by its
intelligent warp tension control system. Individual and connective solutions are
designed to allow external support via remote link. Crealet’s warp let-off
systems are widely used in both ribbon and broadloom weaving, for technical
textiles applied on single or multiple warp beams and creels.

Functional,
sustainable, automated

Trends in the field of woven narrow fabrics
are clearly focused on functionality and sustainability. The Jakob Müller Group
has already embraced these principles – for example using natural fibres for
100 per cent recyclable labels with a soft-feel selvedge. It also focuses as
much as possible on the processing of recycled, synthetic materials. Both PET
bottles and polyester waste from production are recycled and processed into
elastic and rigid tapes for the apparel industry.

For efficient fabric production environments,
it is now recognized that automated quality solutions are essential. Quality
standards are increasing everywhere and zero-defect levels are mandatory for
sensitive applications such as airbags and protective apparel.

Uster’s latest generation of on-loom
monitoring and inspection systems offers real operational improvements for
weavers. The fabric quality monitoring prevents waste, while the quality
assurance system significantly improves first-quality yield for all
applications. Protecting fabric makers from costly claims and damaged
reputations, automated fabric inspection also removes the need for slow, costly
and unreliable manual inspection, freeing operators to focus on higher-skilled
jobs.

Smart and collaborative robotics (cobots)
offer many automation possibilities in weaving rooms. Stäubli’s future oriented
robotics division is a driver in this segment with first effective
installations in warp and creel preparation.

Control
and productivity

Willy Grob’s specialized solutions for
woven fabric winding focus on reliable control of tension, keeping it constant
from the start of the process right through to the full cloth roll. Continuous
digital control is especially important for sensitive fabrics, while
performance and productivity are also critical advantages. In this regard, the
company’s large-scale batching units can provide ten times the winding capacity
of a regular winder integrated in the weaving machine.

The customised concept by Grob as well as
design and implementation result in great flexibility and functionality of the
fabric winding equipment – yet another example of Swiss ingenuity in textile
machinery. 

There is even more innovation to come in
weaving – and in other segments – from members of the Swiss Textile Machinery
Association in future! This confident assertion is founded on an impressive
statistic: the 4077 years of experience behind the creative power of the
association’s member firms. It’s proof positive that their developments grow
out of profound knowledge and continuous research.

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