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Reutlingen - A major German shoe manufacturer is using flat knitting technology from Stoll, part of the Karl Mayer Group, to achieve a significant reduction in lead times across both the development and production processes.

Just like the fashion sector, the shoe industry is driven by short collection cycles and enormous pressure in terms of time and cost. In order to make processes faster and save on labour, two medium-sized German enterprises – Karl Mayer Stoll Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH and DESMA Schuhmaschinen GmbH – have come together for a joint project.

The two partners are confident that combining their specialisms at every stage of the shoe industry’s global value chain is an opportunity that promises plenty of potential for optimization. “This innovative shoe model provides the perfect example of how we can manufacture complex products with a high degree of efficiency and sustainability, by working together and harmonizing our companies’ process sequences,” says Andreas Schellhammer, Head of Business Unit Stoll at the Karl Mayer Group.

The two partners have developed an integrated solution that enables innovative shoe models to be manufactured using a highly efficient process. The process starts with the production of seamless, 3D-knitted uppers, which are then hardened in order to activate the functional yarns knitted into them, before being attached directly to dual-layer sole constructions.

The advantage of this method is that it minimises lead times in the development and production process and allows the machine settings to be adjusted for optimum product quality without any additional investment.

The machine technologies used for the process – Stoll flat weft knitting and DESMA direct sole attachment technology – are already in widespread use in the shoe industry, for both innovative new products and mass production. Most significantly, the new solution reduces the number of time-consuming production steps required, such as making up the uppers and manually joining together uppers and soles made from different components. It is also a sustainable innovation, as the seamless manufacturing technique means there is no scrap or waste, so no resources go to waste.

In addition to this, a seamless, 3D-knitted upper is more comfortable to wear as it is shaped to provide the perfect fit while productivity and pioneering design considerations have also been factored perfectly into the process.

Thanks to the flat weft knitting machine and efficient sole attachment process, it is now possible to manufacture high-performance footwear with custom designs using industrial processes.

All-in-one

The footwear is manufactured using the ADF 330-32 ki BcW flat weft-knitting machine. Like all ADF machines, this model interacts with a number of different knitelligence components to provide an efficient, automatic and fully digitalized production process.

It can also handle a huge variety of different designs. With technology such as inverse plating, STOLL-ikat plating and STOLL-weave-in Technology, it can incorporate a wide range of knitwear looks and all the components of the upper directly into the fabric, thus speeding up the making up process. \

This enormous design potential can be expanded even further by using the multi-gauge E 9.2, in keeping with current trends in the textile shoe upper market.

According to Stoll, the fabrics created using this process boast designer textures with a level of detail never seen before in flat weft knitted uppers and with on-trend non-porous surfaces.

Furthermore, the textures of the stitching in the fabric are almost imperceptible. In terms of design potential and the advantages for the making up process, the technologically driven innovations make the ADF 330-32 ki BcW, E 9.2 extremely appealing for any major player in the shoe industry.

The ADF machine is also notable for its 36 ins working width and optimised dimensions, which represent an added bonus in terms of efficiency. It is also possible to convert any existing ADF flat weft innovation.

As well as the production method, its compact format makes this the perfect solution for design and development processes – and ideal therefore for tapping into new markets.

More information on the joint venture with DESMA will be available at the Karl Mayer Group’s exhibition booth at ITMA Asia + CITME, Hall 4/A 35 at the NECC Shanghai between 12 and 16 June 2021, and on the Stoll website from 12 June.

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