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Obertshausen - Manufacturers of net curtains are finding new patterning possibilities with the latest tricot and raschel warp knitting technology while traditional embroidery firms are now looking to knitting machines to replace their weaving technology.

Dubbed, the new 'architecture of transparency', warp knitting machine builder Karl Mayer notes its RJPC 4 F-NN jacquard raschel machine with fall plate, the RSE 4-1 raschel machine and various types of high-speed tricot machines can be used to produce warp-knitted fabrics for the net curtain sector.

In Turkey, the company says, the growth in sales of tricot and raschel machines has been stable over the last two years in particular with many of its customers looking to create patterned fabrics for the embroidery sector.

Turkish warp knitting companies in the net curtain sector are continuing to record good sales levels - of embroidery tulle in particular, Karl Mayer says. Established types are the three-stitch, hexagonal tulle produced on high-speed tricot machines, but also powernet fabrics produced on the RSE 4-1 in a gauge of E 32, with a beam mounting arrangement of 4x30 ins and a working width of 192 ins.

These efficient raschel machines are said to be experiencing a real boom. “Last year, we sold considerably more RSE 4-1 machines than expected,” confirmed Roland Kunze, the Managing Director of Karl Mayer’s agent, ERKO.

The HKS 3-M is another successful machine for producing embroidery grounds. This high-speed tricot machine produces open embroidery fabrics with a wide variety of ground constructions. These are in high demand, since the volume and range of designs for embroidery grounds are increasing all the time. Bastian Fritsch, a Senior Sales Manager at Karl Mayer is certain that, “the main trend towards using the HKS 3-M will continue.” The HKS 3-M is also being used successfully to produce upholstery fabrics.

In addition to the high demand for embroidery grounds, another trend, which started in the embroidery sector itself, is fuelling the high demand for warp knitting machines. Following the motto of “Produce it yourself rather than buy it in,” conventional embroidery companies are increasingly making the move into warp knitting technology.

The reasons for expanding capacity are obvious: the market outlook is positive, in-house production reduces the risks associated with quality issues and delivery times, and warp knitting is more efficient than weaving. The structure of the fabric is also more stable, which makes it more resistant to yarn damage during the embroidery process.

As well as producing fabrics for the embroidery sector, high-speed tricot machines can produce patterned net curtains – a potential that is being exploited more and more. “Net curtain producers are all looking for something new and have plenty of ideas,” says Kunze, adding that the latest developments mainly relate to the production of lightweight, transparent nets featuring a variety of grounds and integrated patterns.

Karl Mayer developed such a collection of fabrics on an HKS 3-M machine in a gauge of E 28, and presented it at the ITM 2018 exhibition. With a weight of about 50 g/m², the voile fabrics are extremely light while dense, striped, relief-like pattern blocks run across the fine, transparent ground.

The ground also has an attractive, silky shimmer. With its matt/shiny and thick/thin contrasts, the design ensemble is produced in a piece by the types of lapping and yarn used.

To create the ground, a fine polyester monofilament yarn with a trilobal cross-section was processed in GB 2 and GB 3 in a pillar stitch and 3-needle inlay construction – which is typical of voile. This particular fibre shape creates a soft, shimmering effect. The pattern blocks are produced from a much thicker polyester multifilament yarn in a 2 x 1 or 1 x 1 lapping. The yarns are textured yarns, so that they rise up from the delicate ground to create a full, matt look. The product developers at Karl Mayer created seven patterns in this style while variations were produced by changing the design of the grounds and pattern bands, which can be modified by changing the threading-in arrangement, the width and the location.

This type of pattern was also being produced on the HKS 3-M at ITM – a demonstration that attracted a large number of visitors. “The market is demanding more and more patterning possibilities,” observes Kunze. "The HKS 4-M, which is available with and without the EL facility, will become increasingly interesting for customers."

Jacquard

With its wide production repertoire, the RJPC 4 F-NN has been widely used by Turkish manufacturers of net curtains for many years. This jacquard raschel machine with fall plate is ideal for producing chunky fabrics with a hand-made look, as well as delicate, filigree, lightweight curtains.

“Roughly 300 jacquard net curtain machine are currently operating on the Turkish market and all of them are working to capacity,” says Fritsch. "These fabrics, with their intricate, 3D jacquard patterns, are exported mainly to eastern Europe and Iran, as well as to western Europe, the USA, and recently to the first customers in India."

There is also a demand for more and more new alternatives for producing jacquard net curtains. “Customers are looking in particular for ways of producing grounds in a wider variety of patterns,” adds Kunze, summarising the feedback he had received from talking to net curtain producers.

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