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Shima Seiki - Computational Knitting machine

Training | 2018

#digital fabrication #knitting #design programming #textiles #manufacturing process

At Shima Seiki Inc. in Seoul, I was invited to be trained on the computational knitting machine and APEX design software. During an intensive 3 weeks of training, I gained a holistic knowledge about the knitting process, including various knitting structures, applications, different knitting machines (flat knitting and circular knitting), and specific commands in CAD bitmap and simulation.

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Knitting is like a programming language. The general warp knitted structures are very complex, requiring that several steps be correctly performed in the right sequence. The repetition of knitting, tuck, miss, transfer, receive and racking all affect the bending rigidity of the yarns. The types of yarn, the size of the needles, and the direction of the knitting all affect the property and shape of the knitted fabric.

The grid can be coded with different colors, as presented below, and converted to coding for the machine. For example, the red is Color No.1, and it is programmed to do plain knit face stitch (with transfer). Color No.2, which is green, is for plain knit back stitch (with transfer). So, if there are 5 blocks of Color No.1 filled in the grid horizontally, it will only do plain knit five times continuously using the front bed needles, creating a slightly wavy pattern when weaved.




One of the Front and Back Stitch Cross is Fisherman’s rib pattern. Fisherman’s rib pattern often consists of 2x1 cable that can be programmed with Color No. 5 and 10 interchangeably. It is a traditional pattern used in sweaters as decorative stitches. It makes a fabric with a ribbed appearance, but with more depth and softness than a standard rib, which creates an interesting design.


From an engineering standpoint, because it creates a bulky texture, it can be used in a targeted area where it needs to emphasize the structures more when intertwined with sensory devices and conductive yarns.




The jacquard knitting technique on a machine can incorporate a variety of colors while most stranded knitting focuses on only two colors. It is also unique for its versatile ways of depicting patterns on both sides of the fabrics. It is mainly known for reversibility because the back side does not show the floats we expect from stranded knitting. Instead, it will have either a dotted effect on the back side or pattern on both sides with double thickness. Because jacquard knitting is for a double-sided fabric, chunky or bulky yarns are not suitable as they will produce a very thick, inflexible fabric.

From an engineering standpoint, when 3D textile geometric modeling was done with the jacquard pattern, it can create a shape-changing knitted fabric with different yarns intertwined.


Simulation and printed knit


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1 x 1 Rib Sleeve


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Front Sleeveless Top 


Moving on from knitting structure, there is also a requirement for programming the whole garment. In order for the machine to operate and develop the knitted fabrics, the Option Line—that includes the commands such as the jump economizer, yarn carrier changes, knit system change specification which are critical when operating the knitting machines to knit the design.


Future Use


Knitting is the new 3D printing. My long-term goal is to develop user-friendly computer aid interfaces for computational knitting machines, so that anyone can easily design customized whole garments. This will also open up a new era for innovative textiles as well as allow multiple types of yarn to be programmed to form a shape and pattern.

Moving On


The training at Shima Seiki sparked me an idea - to knit using various yarns. In the aim to create a stretchable textile interface, I purchased a home knitting machine and conductive threads. The first video is knitting with the normal yarn to test out the knitting machine.




In alignment with this plan of applying knitting techniques with innovative textile, I plan to explore Human-Computer Interaction by connecting this material with digital information with the use of Arduino. More description will continue on the next project called E-Textile.

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