KARL MAYER’s smart shirt is opening up new applications

KARL MAYER’s smart shirt is opening up new applications

The special feature of TEXTILE-CIRCUIT is that conductive yarns can be incorporated directly into the textile during the warp knitting process, and they can be positioned in any location and in any design.

The special feature of TEXTILE-CIRCUIT is that conductive yarns can be incorporated directly into the textile during the warp knitting process, and they can be positioned in any location and in any design.

Since 2018, KARL MAYER has been developing highly efficient technology for producing functional warp knits with electrical conductivity under the concept of TEXTILECIRCUIT and is, therefore, setting the trend in electronic wearables. The special feature of TEXTILE-CIRCUIT is that conductive yarns can be incorporated directly into the textile during the warp knitting process, and they can be positioned in any location and in any design. Functional elements, such as sensors, conductors and coils, can be placed exactly where they are needed. No additional production sequences are needed whatsoever, and the textile characteristics are fully retained.

In the first stage of the development work, comfortable cuffs for remotely controlling robots, and textile charging stations for the inductive charging of smartphone were produced. A smart shirt with measuring functions was produced during a follow-up project. This functional garment was effectively demonstrating the possibilities offered by TEXTILE-CIRCUIT to a wide audience at ITMA 2019. It measures the heart rate, the moisture levels in the textile, and the temperature of the skin. The sensors needed to do this are integrated into the textile in a single step and transmit their recorded signals via an insulated conductor for processing in a mobile electronics unit. The results can be called up on mobile devices via Bluetooth. The values measured for a cyclist were being displayed impressively on a huge display at ITMA 2019. As well as delivering functionality, this smart shirt also provides exceptional wear comfort. The flexibility of the conductive surfaces and the bi-elasticity of the fabrics deliver exceptional freedom of movement, and the textured polyamide filament yarns processed provide a soft touch.

The performance of TEXTILE-CIRCUIT is opening up completely new market opportunities. “I talked to users from a wide range of sectors during the course of working on the project and attending trade fairs. I was surprised at the wide variety of ideas they came up with for using our textile sensor systems,” explains Sophia Krinner. This Product Developer, Textile Technology, at KARL MAYER sees a huge potential for them, especially in the sportswear, workwear and healthcare sectors. Sophie Krinner also said that she had had many enquiries about buying the conductive, warp-knitted textiles Encouraged by this feedback, she is carrying on with her development work. Further stages will focus on improving the finishing of the textile and optimising the sensor technology.

An upgrade of WEBSHOP SPARE PARTS platform

KARL MAYER is expanding its WEBSHOP SPARE PARTS platform in order to support its clients in their day-to-day operations even more effectively. With a number of new functions, this online ordering platform is now even more useful. This manufacturer is “beating the publicity drum” even harder – to disseminate more information about it. A new film was being premiered at ITMA 2019 in Barcelona, showing the webshop, together with its functions and advantages. The WEBSHOP was also celebrating a first for the warp preparation sector at this leading trade fair. It was being successfully presented to clients with all the existing functions, together with the web shops that have already been installed. Webshops for the KARL MAYER’s business units are also being presented at specific trade fairs. The Webshop for Technical Textiles was being promoted at the JEC World exhibition in March 2019, which generated a great deal of interest.

The WEBSHOP SPARE PARTS for Technical Textiles began on a small scale in 2017, and has been expanding gradually ever since. By the end of 2018/19, the range covered more than 3,200 items – so it was time for a relaunch. The ordering platform, with specific actions, was presented to a wide circle of customers and was very well received. The webshop for KARL MAYER Technische Textilien is now being used by customers from 13 countries. “We are extremely pleased, and we are increasingly expanding our spare parts business via our webshop,” said Jessica Schwabe from KARL MAYER Technische Textilien in July 2019. She found a new innovation, which was unveiled at ITMA, particularly useful: this was the setting up of the central access address, shop.karlmayer.com, which directs the user straight to the webshop that has been made available to him. Alternatively, he can select the webshop that he wants to use via a landing page.

In the latest upgrade, the WEBSHOP SPARE PARTS has been extended by the ability to specify the delivery times. In addition to the standard delivery times, an additional display now also gives information on the current availability of selected items, as a function of the number of pieces required. This new function gives the customer optimum support when planning his requirements. The WEBSHOP SPARE PARTS for Warp Knitting also offers some new functions that go beyond the conventional procurement of spare parts. This extended feature relates to work on the machine operations of the customers on site.

KARL MAYER has linked service packages for standard applications to meet the requirements of its customers. The focus here is on the mechanical and electrical work, which can be booked via a contact at KARL MAYER. For example, if a customer is intending to change the gauge on his HKS machine, or if he is planning to update the software, he can obtain information on the type and extent of the work and which person to contact in the webshop under the heading of SERVICE Packages. In addition to the use of personnel on site, the package includes selected web seminars from the KARL MAYER online training programme. The cross-selling features have also been extended as part of the process for expanding the contents of the webshop. This now contains even more cross-references to the associated products.

To provide additional support, the procurement of spare parts has also been made more mobile. For example, the k.maintenance app from KM.ON allows direct access to the WEBSHOP SPARE PARTS. This practical app can also be used for the Scan-to- Order function for simple ordering, and the Check Parts function for quickly checking the authenticity of the spare parts. A special symbol in the delivery note enables a switch to be made easily from conventional ordering to online ordering. Every product shown in the document, together with its availability in the webshop, is marked by a shopping cart symbol. By specifying a code, subsequent orders can also be placed very easily using the Scan-to-Order function. This practical symbol will soon be transferred to other documents.

KARL MAYER has developed two-inch-guide units with separable one-inch-segments for maximum efficiency when threading the ground guide bars of its warp knitting machines. These long units reduce the time needed for rethreading the guide bars compared to the current one-inch-types, and they eliminate the disadvantage of the current two-inch-units in the event of any damage. Previously, the entire two-inch-unit had to be changed if there was a defect in a guide, but now just the 1-inch-section with the defect can be removed easily and replaced separately.

New developments in weft-inserted net curtains

Net curtains produced on warp knitting machines with magazine weft insertion are the perennial “evergreens” in the window fashion sector. KARL MAYER is now coming like a breath of fresh air onto this established market segment, and is offering some specific new developments. Its latest machine, the WEFT.FASHION TM 3, can produce articles having an on-trend look in the style of popular gauze-like fabrics made from monofilaments and fancy yarns, yet it enables fabrics to be produced without sizing at a production rate that is 10 to 11 times higher than that of comparable looms. The nature of the technology also means that the lightweight, transparent, warp-knitted fabrics have a high slip resistance. These advantages impressed the visitors at the last ITMA fair in June 2019 in Barcelona. During this important trade fair, KARL MAYER was showing a collection of on-trend, weftinserted net curtains produced on the WEFT.FASHION TM 3, which generated a great deal of buying interest. The Turkish visitors in particular asked a great many questions.

Encouraged by the positive feedback, the textile specialists at KARL MAYER carried on with their development work, and processed fine monofilament rather than multifilament yarns on the warp knitting machine with weft insertion. In the first stage, a lustrous yarn of dtex 22 was processed in all the yarn systems. A very delicate, extremely transparent, feather-light fabric with an organza ground was produced, which weighs just 20 g/m². Despite its ethereal look, the fabric is extremely stable and is suitable for embroidering. The textile developer, Kay Burkhardt, is particularly pleased with the look of the fabric. “We processed a very dense structure at 35 stitches/cm to produce an extremely uniform appearance.”

When hanging in front of the window, the net curtain creates a subtle interplay with the light to produce shimmering, glittering and moiré effects in all the colours of the rainbow. In subsequent development stages, a ground made from monofilament yarns was combined with a weft made from different fancy yarns. Yarns featuring knops, nodules and crimps were processed and – what was particularly ingenious – a relatively thick yarn was used, which was first formed into a cord-like structure by pillar stitches. The optically dominant weft materials almost hide the ground. Completely new textile constructions are produced, which will stimulate the trend for net curtains with puristic-looking yet discreetly subtle patterns.

New, lightweight aramid textiles – more protection than weight

Aramid fibre yarns are now widely used in technical applications. They are used in composites, for example, in hard ballistic systems, lightweight transport containers and laminated, high-performance sails, but they are also used in protective textiles – usually in woven textiles – for clothing. Compared to glass and carbon fibres that are also used, the specific characteristics of aramid yarns give them advantages that can be used in a wide variety of applications – but these come at a price. In particular, they have an exceptional impact resistance and energy absorption capacity.

Unlike the versions made from carbon or glass, the aramid fibres are virtually undamaged by filament abrasion during processing. They can currently be processed on the COP MAX 5 multiaxial warp knitting machine to produce non-crimp fabrics with a degree of uniformity that has never been achieved before. Fine, lightweight, channel-free reinforcing structures are produced for use in applications requiring a high level of force absorption, especially in new and lighter, soft ballistic systems. We reported on the unique aramid structures produced on the COP MAX 5 in “Kettenwirk-Praxis”, issue 02/2018. This article deals with the subsequent development work.

KARL MAYER Technische Textilien set up a far-reaching development project, entitled “COP MAX 5 Aramid”, for processing high-performance fibres on multiaxial warp knitting machines. The aim of the project was to produce flat reinforcing textiles for composites having a low weight and a uniform fibre distribution. The surfaces of the finished textiles should have a dense structure, without any so-called laying channels. The fibre materials can be used to the maximum, thanks to their exceptional uniformity – which justifies the cost of the aramid yarns.

The TC 66 online spreading unit and the COP MAX 5 Aramid multiaxial warp knitting machine were used to produce the new, lightweight textiles. The spreading unit ensures that the aramid yarns are spread to produce thin tapes, which are fed to the COP MAX 5 Aramid at a constant tension. The multiaxial warp knitting machine bonds the delivered material stitch by stitch to produce high quality, non-crimp textiles with a huge potential in the lightweight construction sector. The process runs discontinuously between the machines. The aramid material has to be cut following spreading and before laying.

In the first stage of the project, a new tape cutting unit was developed as part of a thesis, which was specifically designed for cutting aramid tapes. This new system could be used to produce single layer, non-crimp fabrics with a laying angle of –45 degree and a virtually channel- free fibre arrangement, weighing just 120 g/m². The work on this stage ended in March 2018. The thesis was awarded a classification of “very good” at the Technische Universität Dresden (Dresden University of Technology). The second stage of the project involved extending the single fibre layer produced by another layer running in the opposite direction. To do this, the aramid cutting unit that had been developed was further optimised and complemented by a second unit. A new cutting unit was also added at the machine exit point to remove the textile structures produced reliably from the transport chain.

The second stage of the project resulted in the development of biaxial, non-crimp fabrics with laying angles of +/–45 degree, which deliver a completely new level of performance for the lightweight construction sector. The reinforcing textiles have an exceptionally flat surface and a uniform distribution of the aramid fibres – since there are no wavy or twisted yarns. Compared to conventional biaxial textiles produced on the COP MAX 4 or the COP BIAX based on a yarn laying process, the filaments have a much higher covering power. Intermediate film layers for compensating for channels and irregularities are no longer needed with the COP MAX 5 Aramid, so they are virtually a thing of the past. The fabric weight is also quite unique.

The new textiles made from aramid tapes having individual layer weights of 90 g/m² and yarns having a count of 3,360 dtex with 2,000 filaments now weigh just 180 g/m². Up until now, aramid structures produced on the COP MAX 4 or the COP BIAX from expensive yarns with a count of 450 to 960 dtex could only be produced with up to 200 filaments, which means that they would then weigh 250 to 500 g/m². The COP MAX 5 Aramid technology also scores points in terms of costs: relatively coarse and economical aramid yarns can be processed into fine reinforcing structures, and there is less edge waste from the textiles. Compared to the simple yarn laying process, the potential savings could amount to thousands of euros a week!

The developers at KARL MAYER Technische Textilien GmbH have hit the nail on the head with this new technology. This was clear from the reaction to the latest results of the project at various trade fairs this year. The technology generated at great deal of interest – especially at Techtextil in Frankfurt and the JEC in Paris. Enquires came from producers and organisations involved in protective clothing, and especially soft ballistic protection. But clothing companies in search of a second business opportunity were also keen to learn more about it. “Our business partners describe the new biaxial textiles as uniquely lightweight and uniform. They see a huge market potential for this new technology, and have encouraged us to take it further,” says Rainer Seuß, Product Management, Composites.

Questions were asked in particular about the protective effects of triaxial textiles for use in ballistic systems. For this reason, the technologists specialising in applications technology would like to develop a non-crimp construction with laying angles of – 45°/90°/+45° for use in effective systems having a low weight, which would be acceptable to the wearers. When talking to people at the fair, Rainer Seuß discovered that, “Every kilogram saved in a ballistic jacket means that the soldier wearing it can carry an extra kilogram of equipment/supplies.” Lightweight, thin, soft ballistic vests can also be worn discreetly yet effectively under the polo shirts of security personnel. In this case, customers would expect the aramid fabric to weigh 270 g/m². Alongside the developments made by KARL MAYER Technische Textilien, the fibre specialist, Teijin, has also been expanding the potential of aramid for use in lightweight structures. Aramid yarns having a count of 2,000 dtex with 2,000 individual filaments have been launched recently.

KARL MAYER belongs to the starters of INNOVATIVE CO-WORKING

Today, real innovations in the fashion sector are the result of a close exchange between creative minds and experts with ideas and visions. This is the reason why Interfilière offers with INNOVATIVE CO-WORKING a new platform for an individual get-together from 18. to 20. January 2020 in Paris. Here, brand strategists, staff members of start-ups and designer entrepreneurs have the possibility to start conversations with the top-level trendsetters from all fields of the textile supply chain.

One of the innovative partners for an efficient brainstorming is KARL MAYER, a pioneer in textile machinery building, who increasingly also develops textile product concepts. „In the last few months, we have been focusing on the topics of Electronic Wearable, Bodymapping for Sportswear, One-Piece Creations for Lingerie and Genre-Mix, especially the combination of Lingerie and Swimwear with Athleisure. The developed styles and concepts already met with a great response at different trade fairs.

In Paris, too, we are looking forward to having many interesting conversations in this respect“, reveals Gabriela Schellner, Head of Textile Technology at KARL MAYER, about the fashion topics, on which the visitors have the right to expect valuable inspirations and latest information. In particular the lingerie business provides diverse development potential due to the know-how transfer, especially from the sportswear industry with its high demands on the function of clothing.

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