Classification of Knitting Machines All that You Need to Know

Knitting, a process of making fabrics (textiles) that is generally done inter-looping of yarns. Knitting is primarily classified as weft knitting and warp knitting. Knitting can be done by hand or by machine. knitting is done by creating loops of yarn in a row, either flat or in the round. In this article, we will show you a list of different types of industrial knitting machines available for making knitted fabrics.

The knitting machines are classified based on fabric formation techniques (warp knitting, weft knitting, single jersey, double jersey). Further machines are classified based on machine configuration. We have come out with this knitting machine classification after exploring a couple of blogs and websites. To keep this article simple, we are not displaying images of different types of knitting machines. Knitting machine images are shown in this post.

Classification of knitting machines

Knitting machine classification

1. Weft Knitting
    1-1. Circular Knitting Machine
        1-1-1. Single Jersey Circular Knitting Machine
            1-1-1-1. Plain Single Jersey
            1-1-1-2. 2 Track 4 Track
            1-1-1-3. Terry and Fleece
            1-1-1-4. Jacquards
        1-1-2. Double Jersey Circular Knitting Machine
            1-1-2-1. Rib knitting machine  
            1-1-2-2. Interlock knitting machine 
            1-1-2-3. Pique fabric knitting machine  
    1-2. Straight Bar Knitting Machine
        1-2-1. Single Needle Straight Bar Knitting Machine
        1-2-2. Double-Needle Straight Bar Knitting Machine
     1-3. Flat Bar Knitting Machine
        1-3-1. Flat Bed or V-Bed
        1-3-2. Single-Bed
        1-3-3. Unidirectional Bed
2. Warp knitting machines
    2-1. Raschel warp knitting machine
    2-2. Tricot warp knitting machine
3. Socks knitting machines
4. Wholegarment knitting machines

1. Classification of Weft knitting machine

If the yarns run in the fabric widthwise or crosswise direction with reference to the direction of fabric formation then the process is called weft knitting. This is just like weft yarns in woven fabrics. Weft knitting machines are classified as the following.

1-1. Circular knitting machine

It is the most popular type knitting machine, widely used for manufacturing fabric for garments and apparel purposes since it is circular in shape it is known as a circular knitting machine. Components of circular knitting machines are latched needle, compound needle, sinker(single jersey), cam, cylinder, dial. Machine diameter varies from 12 to 60 inches. Circular knitting machines further classified as the following. 

1-1-1. Single jersey 

1-1-1-1. Plain knitting machine

It is the most widely used variety of machines used in manufacturing knitted fabric. It has a set of latch needle and a set of the sinker. Both revolve according to the knitting cam system that results in a precise up and down motion. Here only one 1 track of cam operates and produced fabric as per the required density and thickness of the fabric.

1-1-1-2.  Two-track and Four-track single jersey

This type of machine can produce a variety of knitted fabric designs, with a high sped production. Here no. of cams can be altered. It has a separate motion for each sinker and needle respectively with a stationary cam system. It is used for manufacturing t-shirts, polo shirts, underwear, and swimsuits, etc

1-1-1-3. Terry knitting machine:

It consists of different types of sinkers, motor, inverter, oiler, yarn storage device. Fabric produced are of different loop height. A device named CSA (central adjustment system) monitors the uniform fabric density, cylinder diameter ranges from 26 to 34 inches. Terry knitting machine generally produces terry towels and even with lycra yarns, it produces smoother fabric.

1-1-1-4. Jacquard Single Jersey Circular Knitting Machine:

It operates with the three needle positions namely knit, tuck, and miss. It can produce a textured design that usually includes flowers, brocade, matelassé, paisleys, damask, and animal patterns. Modern machines are computerized with a USB system for information storage of design patterns.

1-1-2. Double jersey circular knitting machine

1-1-2-1. Rib knitting machine:

A rib knitting machine is one of the widely used knitting machines for manufacturing fabric for apparel items. It is a double bed machine, with one set of needles in each bed and one cam track for each bed, respectively.

Needles are in the opposite phase that is they are situated perpendicularly in the machine. Cylinder needles move vertically while the dial needles move vertically. Fabric produced are comparatively more stretchable than single jersey and interlock fabric. 

Rib knitting machine can be of 1 x 1, 2 x 2, 4 x 4 variety. Used in the manufacturing of tops, bottoms, casual wear, etc. 

1-1-2-2. Interlock knitting machine:

Knitting takes place in double bed machine, there are two sets of needles in each bed, short needles and long needles and two cam tracks in each bed. Purl structures can also be made in the interlock machine by allowing dual-ended latch needles and special devices of a drive. Fabric produced from this machine has the same surface on both face and back, and this fabric is widely used in inner-wears, track pants, etc. 

1-1-2-3. Pique circular knitting machine:

Fabric produced from this type of knitting machine shows a waffle weave look. The fabric also shows a rough texture, widely used for making polo- shirts.

1-2. Straight Bar Knitting Machine:

Straight bar knitting machines have bearded needles on a vertical bar. Movement is controlled by the precisely constructed cam system. Divisions are equally distributed along the length of the machine. These machines are also known as hand flat, widely used in making sweaters just like handloom weavers.

In a straight bar knitting machine, there are two variety namely single needle straight bar and double-needle straight bar. Rib and single jersey fabric can also be produced in this type of fabric. Speed is comparatively slower than the industrial flat bar machine.

1-3. Flat Bar Knitting Machine

This machine is generally utilized for manufacturing 3D structured knitted fabric. Fabric produced is quite similar to the circular knitting machine. Needles are arranged on a straight bar, which follows a back and forth movement. These machines are used for making collars, arm-bands (cuff), and even in some case sweaters too. There is a separate cam for each needle bed.

Flat Bed or V-Bed Flat Knitting Machine

This machine has two flat needle beds consisting of upside-down motion looking like English alphabet V. Needle beds can stretch up to 2-3 meters wide. A forward and backward movement known as CAM-box works to move the knit, tuck, and also, in transferring stitches. Angular cams of a bi-directional cam system are used

Related Post: Introduction to flat knitting and fully-fashioned garment

2. Warp knitting machine:

If the yarns run in a length direction, i.e. the direction of fabric formation during knitting, the process is called warp knitting like the warp yarns in woven fabrics. Fabric is made by forming loops from yarns coming in parallel sheet form which run in the direction of fabric formation.

2-1. Raschel knitting machine

Latch needles are commonly used but compound needles may also be used. Sinkers are used to ensure that the fabric stays down when the needle rises. More number of warp beams and guide bars are used than tricot machines. Warp beams are positioned at the top. Here gauge is defined as needles per two inches. Machine speed is comparatively lesser than tricot machines.

2-2. Tricot knitting machine

Bearded or compound needles are used in this machine where sinkers control the entire knitting cycle like single jersey knitting machines. Lesser warp beams are used in tricot machines than raschel machine. Warp beams are positioned at the back, the gauge is generally defined as needle per one inch. (Sadhan Chandra Dey -Woodhead)

3. Socks knitting machine

The principles of socks knitting machines are like circular knitting. Good quality products can be produced only when stop-motion and yarn-feeding functions are set properly. In circular weft knitting, needles knit one after the other in sequence, and loops are formed horizontally by needles knitting around the cylinder, forming a tube.

4. WholeGarment knitting machine 

Besides these, all types of knitting machines in recent days Seamless knitting machine is in the trend where a full garment is being knitted due to which there is no need for stitching of fabric cut components during garment manufacturing. Companies like Santoni, Shima-Seiki are these seamless knitting machine manufacturers.

These types of machines are widely used for manufacturing inner-wears and sportswear. Seamless technology provides highly elastic knit fabric used for underwear and elastic sportswear technology, neck, waist, buttocks, and other parts that do not need to seam molding.


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