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Obertshausen - The Karl Mayer stand at this summer's ITMA exhibition represented the entire textile value-added chain with presentations covering production, through to the fabric and its final applications across the warp knitting sector.

With around 1500 visitors attending over the course of the show, the stand included innovative machines for warp knitting, warp preparation and technical textiles, solutions for networking machines and the digital world, as well as exciting fabrics and examples of new applications with a high market potential. There was also a significant dedication to sustainable and environmentally friendly production.

“We are illustrating the implementation of our key strategic topics of ‘sustainability and the environment’ on various islands at the fair, from energy-efficient machines, through processing yarns with the emphasis on conserving resources, to sustainable warp-knitted textiles and end-use concepts," said CEO of Karl Mayer, Arno Gärtner.

Digitization

Karl Mayer clearly demonstrated its commitment to combining machine technology with digitization during ITMA. “Once again, it became clear from the ITMA fair in Barcelona that the sector is focusing on digital solutions when it comes to process optimization and customer orientation. That is why we are delighted to receive such excellent feedback on the new systems within our software start-up, KM.ON,” added Gärtner.

Two machines with digital features were being premiered in Barcelona. The HKS 3-M-ON can be linked directly to the KM.ON cloud via the k.ey system, which enables the lapping data required to be loaded directly onto the machine.

The RSJ 4/1 ON, on the other hand, uses the potential of the KM.ON product group, k.innovation, to optimally support virtual textile development.

Key here is that k.innovation delivers much more than just patterning software. “Many of our visitors were particularly impressed by our networked machines and the new possibilities offered by collaborative product development with k.innovation, in conjunction with the RSJ 4/1 ON,” said Oliver Mathews, the Sales Manager of Karl Mayer’s Warp Knitting Business Unit. “The fair went well and we had more than 700 high-quality conversations. We also laid the foundations for many sales contracts and initiated some interesting new projects.”

The newly configured RDPJ 6/2 EL also contributed to the excellent feedback, together with its exceptional range of 4D-KNIT products. The textiles produced on this double-bar raschel machine feature a wide range of pronounced, three-dimensional designs on the outer sides, but can also feature openwork patterns, which gives them an advantage over their circular weft-knitted competitors. “News of our new development quickly spread around the fair. Even yarn producers had heard about the 4D-KNIT articles and came to learn more about them on our stand,” said Kay Hilbert, Head of Product Portfolio Management.

Future

Ideas and inspiration for using warp-knitted textiles with well-thought-out designs were also being demonstrated to the ITMA visitors under the slogan of the “Future of Textiles”.

“The applications on show were picking up textile producers, brands and processors from the places where they do business: in the development of new innovations and efficient production,” said Mathews, adding that the focus was on the possibilities of substituting woven fabrics with warp-knitted fabrics to minimise costs and environmental loads, and the subject of E-textiles.

Extensive development work is being carried out at Karl Mayer into the electrical conductivity of warp-knitted textiles. In the project entitled, Textile Circuit, for example, string bar technology is being used to incorporate electrically conductive yarns directly at any location into the fabric.

The display of applications was also showcasing some exceptional product developments, which are both stylish and functional and can be made-up with little outlay. These include well-thought-out systems for comfortable bras with few seams, a sporty body providing shape and support and made from a new type of power lace, and a swimsuit with a lace look.

Technical

The new SIM.PLY machine proved to be a real magnet for the public in the field of technical textiles. This innovation produces thermoplastic, unidirectional tapes (UD tapes) using fibre spreading technology. Its products – premium tapes with precisely aligned, continuous fibres – are suitable for use in highly stressed, fibre-reinforced, lightweight structures, which are a rapid growth area.

The thermoplastic matrix is also easy to process, which makes mass production feasible.

The SIM.PLY products feature an impressive, high quality and excellent mechanical properties. The grammages of the spread tape, as well as the impregnated tape, are also uniform, and the fibre volume content is high. The production efficiency is also excellent, thanks to the continuous spreading and impregnating sequences.

This line has far exceeded the company's expectations in relation to visitor feedback. “Both our existing customers involved in the lightweight construction, automotive and transport fields, as well as new, interested people from the sports sector, for example, were very interested in this new technology. We had many specific enquiries from our customers at the fair, who were interested in carrying out trials in our Applications Centre in Chemnitz,” said Hagen Lotzmann, the Sales Manager of the Technical Textiles Business Unit.

In addition to talking to partners on the subject of composites, Lotzmann and his team also welcomed numerous major clients to see Karl Mayer's established product portfolio. “We had conversations on a wide range of topics, covering our entire technical textiles portfolio - from aviation, through wind power, to geotextiles,” he said, noting that there was also a huge interest in building textiles.

Examples of their use include textile-reinforced concrete as well as cheap, flexible and stable roofing materials and bitumen roofing membranes. Special plaster grids that increase cracking resistance in the plaster were also on show. A lightweight, multiaxial construction made from aramid yarns on a COP MAX 5 multiaxial warp knitting machine with an online spreading process for the production of personal protection equipment was also being presented.

Digital innovations

The new Karl Mayer Business Unit, KM.ON, was presenting for the first time at an ITMA in Barcelona, and received extremely positive feedback. “It was a very successful fair for KM.ON. We spoke about many specific projects with a large number of potential and existing customers active in all of Karl Mayer’s business areas,” explained Antonia Gottschalk, the Managing Director of KM.ON GmbH. The visitors were particularly impressed by k.ey, the company’s high-tech connectivity system. In addition to the possibility of networking additional machines, the first bidirectional networking solutions are now available, which permit the seamless transfer of pattern data to the new HKS-3M-ON and RSJ 4/1 ON machines. This enables customers to reduce their time-to-market considerably.

A further highlight of the exhibition was the software developed for k.innovation. This game changer in the textile industry combines patterning with collaboration. Design projects involving several participants can be carried out between companies and across different time zones, without changing the system. Any interfaces and disruptions in the system are eliminated by combining the k.innovation and k.ey systems. With k.innovation, projects can be implemented, from the design idea to pattern data transfer, in a continuous workflow. “This system was well received by our own customers, as well as by the big brands, who described it as ‘amazing’,” says Antonia Gottschalk.

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