he excellence of Italian textile machinery is recognized all over the world; innovation,
creativity, quality and reliability are the main features that allowed the Italian textile
machinery industry to attain worldwide leadership.
In particular, the knitting machinery sector has an 18-percent share of production in the
total Italian textile machinery sector — worth about 470 million euros. Knitting machinery exports
amounted to 392 million euros in 2005. In the first eleven months of 2006, the export value was
equivalent to 357 million euros.
The success of Italian knitting machinery is based mainly on the strong synergy existing
between the machinery manufacturers and their users, and on the strong innovative drive resulting
from this synergy. The cooperation between the machinery manufacturers and their customers has
leveraged the strong textile tradition existing in Italy and located in the Italian knitting
districts. The continuous exchange of experiences allows the textile machinery industry to develop,
contributing at the same time to the success of the whole Italian textile system.
Knitwear production in Italy is concentrated today on small lots targeted to medium- to
high-quality-level markets, which requires primarily high sampling potential and great machine
flexibility. It is essential that the knitwear factories be in a position to quickly satisfy the
needs of a market coping with more and more frequent fashion changes. Italian knitting machinery is
fully capable of meeting these technological needs.
Circular knitting machinery offerings have grown considerably. Italian manufacturers rank in
the top position globally. In some cases, they have even been able to understand in advance the
needs and the trends of the market, developing technological solutions that have given rise to new
Typical Italian production is represented by circular machines for seamless clothing.
Italian companies’ international leadership in this sector is highlighted by the widespread
pervasiveness of these machines in world markets, as well as by their steady technological
improvement. The application of sophisticated mechanical, electronic and pneumatic devices allows
processing of a wide range of spun yarns and continuous filaments for rather complex textile
structures not obtainable using traditional cutting and sewing processes.
Italian manufacturers of this type of machinery were the first to understand the need to
offer knitters solutions to ensure a break-even point between technical performance and the amount
of investment needed. In fact, the technological progress led to the development of machines that
could produce extremely complex stitch structures, having as their most representative article the
so-called fully knitted garment.
Undoubtedly electronics, which are used widely by all manufacturers, have played a
fundamental role in the achievement of these technological innovations, both for programming and
for various machine device controls.
The progress attained in the last decade by flat knitting machinery has been so quick and
significant that one could hardly hope for further new developments; and yet the accomplishment of
the fully knitted garment — also known as fully fashioned or knit-and-wear — is a target that is by
now largely attained. A considerable increase in the width of the gauge range has also been
reached, so that machine gauges now have a range that could not be imagined a few years ago. All of
these innovations, aimed at enhancing enormously the flexibility of the machines, are
Within the Italian panorama of this sector, particular developments for special processes
should be mentioned. One of these developments is the intarsia technique. Today, some manufacturers
produce intarsia machines that couple a modern, but essential, configuration with sampling
potentials, otherwise obtainable only in hand knitting.
Concerning crochet machinery, Italy leads in technological development. Italian
manufacturers have brought a series of improvements that have extended the application fields of
these machines — above all, in the wide sector of technical textiles. One of these innovations has
increased considerably the sampling flexibility of crochet machines.
Within the panorama of Italian knitting machinery, the hosiery sector deserves particular
mention. In this field, Italian manufacturers have absolute technological leadership worldwide.
With regard to single-cylinder hosiery machines for ladies’ stockings and pantyhose, as well as
single- and double-cylinder machines for men’s and children’s socks, all new models offered by
Italian manufacturers are equipped with the most up-to-date electronic and computer-controlled
systems, which also permit a quicker change between very different articles. The applied components
are very sophisticated and allow the production of exclusive, yet cost-effective, stitch
small and large patterns in several colors, as well as more than 10 patterns on the whole stocking.
On men’s sock machines, the innovation level that characterizes the toe closing process allows the
customer to choose among various technical proposals, each offering different features as regards
sewing quality, reliability of execution, productivity and investment cost.
The enormous progress and the undisputed success worldwide of the Italian hosiery sector is
certainly to be ascribed to the close cooperation that has existed all along between the machine
manufacturers and the hosiery producers.
The swift interaction between the new demands imposed on the knitters by the fashion market
and the time needed to develop new machine models in line with such requirements proves once again
the winning solution both for the machinery manufacturers and for the users.