Steiger Vega 3.130. © Knitting Industry
At the quadrennial ITMA 2019 textile machinery exhibition, which was held last month in Barcelona, the new Steiger Vega 3.130 compact flat knitting machine for technical textiles was unveiled. The highly anticipated launch had been announced at a pre-ITMA 2019 press conference held by Swissmem in Lucerne in March.
Steiger, which is now part of the Cixing Group – the world’s largest manufacturer of flat knitting machines – is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019 and is still manufacturing at its plant in Vionnaz, Switzerland, as well as in China. The anniversary is one of a number being marked by Swissmem member companies, who between them can draw on a staggering 4011 years of combined textile machinery know-how.
According to Steiger CEO Pierre-Yves Bonvin, the company has recently had a number of successes in the field of knitted preforms for composites, and in one project with the Technical University of Dresden, it has successfully developed shaped truck component parts for Volvo. It is also working with a notable luggage brand on a range of the first knitted composite suitcases.
KnitCandela Project. © Philippe Block
Two other impressive projects in Switzerland have seen the development of 3D-knitted shells to support a five-ton concrete structure as part of the award winning KnitCandela project, and the design of composites parts for the cockpit and seat covers of the Solar Stratos, the world’s first commercial two-seater solar plane.
The Vega 3.130 is a modular machine dedicated to the production of technical textiles and can be equipped with warp and weft insertion for inlay applications involving high-performance yarns. It has a specific cam-box for semi-rigid yarns, as well as adapted sinker kinetics.
“The Vega 3.130 is our ‘technical textiles machine’ and is supplied in a bespoke manner to clients, depending on the technical requirements of their textiles-based solutions,” says Sales Manager Carlo Corradi.
“The distance between the needle-beds can be specifically adjusted and set and other key features include a special take-down for 3D products, a new system of clamp and scissors that can cut yarns like Kevlar, and a selectable carriage inversion ramp for optimised production.”
olar Stratos, the world’s first commercial two-seater solar plane. © Solar Stratos
The machine can also be supplied in a special format to process carbon fibre preforms for use in automotive, aerospace and industrial composite applications. Steiger also launched a new App aimed at remote machine control which was demonstrated live. The new App would allow for example, a Steiger machine user in say Brazil to live link to a Steiger technical expert in Europe for assistance.
The Vega 3.130 on show at ITMA was a 3 system, 10-gauge, 52 inch needlebed machine, equipped with direct overhead yarn feed, which has a maximum running speed of 1.6m/s.
In addition to its success with these and other projects, Steiger is now also reaping the rewards of a business it launched in 2017 called Stitch Lab, where experts in knitting and programming work together with clients on developing their future applications.
In the Stitch Lab, Steiger technicians and their partners also work together on exploring Steiger’s MODEL+ 3D simulation software. Thanks to the virtual knitting machine function, the creation of the stitches, row by row is simulated and so the programmer can detect potential knitting problems early in the creation of the garment. They can also navigate into the product to inspect the sample. A wizard composed of three simple steps is designed to help users to easily program their knitwear.
Steiger celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2019. © Knitting Industry
“The Stitch Lab is a very powerful tool to develop future applications. In the Stitch Lab Steiger develops 3D articles for knitwear, for medical applications and for composite materials,” commented Pierre-Yves Bonvin. “In fact,” Mr Bonvin says: “Our new Steiger Vega 3.130 compact flat knitting machine for technical textiles is a product of our Stitch Lab.
“We will use all our expertise and innovation capability to create new patterns and 3D parts using any kind of yarns. In the Stitch Lab we have put together the best experts, the best machines and the best framework to boost the innovation.”
The sky’s the limit for Steiger’s new Vega 3.130
3D-knitted shells support five-ton concrete structure