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Shima Seiki’s WholeGarments celebrates 20 years of innovation

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Shima Seiki introduced the world's first WholeGarment technology at Milan ITMA 20 years ago in 1995. WholeGarment is a knitting technology, capable of producing a garments in its entirety with no seams. It was a revolutionary technology then called the ‘The Magic of the Orient’ by media. This year, Shima Seiki returned to Milan to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of WholeGarment knitting technology under the theme ‘Innovation Coming of Age’. It is still considered one of the most sustainable forms of garment production with minimal dependence on labor, material and other resources.


Leading for over two decades

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“What you see here is compilation of two decades of ongoing research, development and refinement in technology” says Masaki Karasuno, Incharge for Planning Group (Total Design Centre), adding further, “Perhaps it was before time then in 1995, it has improved over time and is more relevant to industry now. Earlier, one worker could manage just 5 machines, whereas the latest machine needs one worker for 35 machines.”

Shima Seiki proposes several novel ways to produce WholeGarment knitwear even more efficiently by exploiting 3D shaping and tubular knitting characteristics. Furthermore with Italy and the rest of Europe in its radar, Shima Seiki emphasizes on the economic and logistic advantages of WholeGarment knitting for local production in domestic markets, which further increases the sustainability factor by eliminating time, cost and energy otherwise spent in shipping from off-shore locations.

Looking at the world's market conditions and taking into account possible future scenarios in the manufacturing and distribution of goods, technology reflects a much bigger picture as how technology users can successfully maintain a profitable business; how the industry can transform itself from one relying on labor to one fueled by information and creativity; and how a sustainable material-to-manufacture-to-distribution system can be established with limited resources and limited factory capacity despite steady growth in global population.

“Technology is sustainable as it reduces manpower thereby reducing cost. Furthermore, machines can be installed where the market is, closer to the consumption centre, producing straight from yarn to garment, cutting processes in between, saves lot of costs giving economic and logistic benefit beside being quick to market.”

WholeGarment was inspired from glove manufacturing, recalls Karasuno. Today Shima Seiki enjoys 10 per cent share of knitting machines worldwide, contributing much higher in production volume, as their machines produce much higher and quicker than others. Italy being the largest market for WholeGarment, followed by the US, Shima Seiki is world leader in knitting technology.

Shima Seiki machines both WholeGarment as well as conventional knitting machines are used for various end applications including fashion, home furnishing, sports, medical, automotive, aerospace and other industrial textiles.