Gaimersheim - Christoph Liebers has developed a new 'golden' sinker technology, which it says provides a range of environmental benefits compared to standard sinker types when used on knitting machines. The patented 'nano' sinker technology has been designed to significantly reduce friction levels, which leads to less wear and tear, less energy consumption and a longer life for key knitting elements.
The new golden sinkers were developed in collaboration with tbe Fraunhofer Institut, the highly respected research institute based in Germany. Working with the institute, Christoph Liebers focused on the surface of sinkers with the main issue being that the inherent smoothness meant that no oil stays permanently on the sinker. Instead, the protective oil film decreases continuously which, conversely, allows the level of friction to increase over time. Tests showed that the adhesion gradient increased significantly over a matter of hours, which leads to wear, and tear of knitting elements.
With the new golden sinkers, Christoph Liebers says that the fissured surface now has nano-scale, microscopic embedded cavities which allow the oil film to spread across the surface and remain there for longer. With this latest generation of sinkers, the structured surface is characterized by a host of tiny inclusions, a fraction of a millimeter large. Oil is now held within these microscopic cavities, which is extremely important for the lubrication of knitting machines.
These irregularities, undetectable to the untrained eye but nevertheless intentional, just like small cells, keep the lubrication film even. Each and every lubrication film, which protects the sinkers, splits at a certain temperature. Michael Starke, responsible for the new surface structure, explains: “Because of a lack of oil on large parts of sinker surfaces, there is significantly more friction than with the new ‘nanos’. "
As well as operating at a lower temperature, the reduced wear of using ‘nanos’ offers a number of other advantages. Energy consumption is lowered with reduced friction and the ‘nanos’ have a longer life. Moreover, reduced friction produces less abrasion, which normally pollutes the machines and the knitwear.
Importantly, all of these claims are backed up by a series of certified tests from the renowned Fraunhofer Institut für Schicht- und Oberflächentechnik (Fraunhofer Institute for Layer and Surface Technology) in Braunschweig. There, in the Centre for Tribological Layers – New Coatings and Systems, tests showed that by using oscillating friction probes, the force exerted on the sinker surface in a knitting machine during production was lightened.
In the test assembly, a test body, whose surface corresponds to that of the sinker, was moved back and forth on a similar test body made from steel, with a vertical force and a frequency that is common in production. The result: on the traditional sinker, the oil film split after around five minutes, the friction value showing afterwards a constant increasing trend. For the ‘nanos’ though, the oil film was kept constant even after the one and a half hour test time. After the time was up the test showed an ever-decreasing tendency in the friction value. The conclusion of the researchers: the surfaces of the ‘nanos’ "reveal significant differences in friction value and in the danger of wear.”
For Michael Starke, this new development also opens up opportunities for completely new cooperation and partnerships across other the knitting sector: “We can easily imagine using the structured surface together with premium producers,” he said. "If both sides capitalize on the surfaces of the ‘nanos’ then the advantages in its use will be stronger. That means even less wear, energy consumption, and abrasion, and even lower temperatures. More than this however, it means an even longer life for the knitting elements and careful use in the knitting machines.
"If knitting machine manufacturers want to reap the benefits of the nano development, then in the future they’ll turn their path towards Gaimersheim. The market lies in close proximity to the Audi metropolis of Ingolstadt. It remains to be seen whether the slogan, 'Sinkers are silver, but nano is golden!' will make the same impact as the advertising slogan known by all that comes from the same place: “Vorsprung durch Technik!”