Futuristic 3D printing has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Of course it’s fascinating to watch this technology in action, but practical applications still seem elusive – particularly for consumer goods. It threatens to lose its appeal if we fail to progress from gimmicky demos to find a real purpose and role. One factor that has stopped it catching on better so far has to be the uniform, rigid feel to the products. But what if machines could print soft, flexible 3D objects? SHIMA SEIKI from Japan is already miles ahead in this field. This manufacturer of state-of-the-art knitting machines has travelled from this year’s partner country to CeBIT 2017 in Hannover to showcase its new, innovative SWG-N2 compact WHOLE-GARMENT series.
The renowned "SlideNeedle" system on the SWG061N2 can not only knit a wide range of fashion accessories – gloves, socks, hats, mufflers, neck ties and other small items – but also childrenswear, leggings and tank tops. They are all ready to wear – in one piece, with no need to sew any seams! But that’s not all. The R2CARRIAGE system can handle a larger number of yarn carriers and holding hooks for cutting yarn. A separate higher-capacity yarn holder provides even greater flexibility for multi-color knitting. Building on an established reputation in the fashion industry, the new SWG-N2 series is also capable of producing high-tech textiles for industry, sport, medicine and safety applications. This of course boosts the potential lines of business that companies can cater for way beyond their previous boundaries.