Sewing technology favored for processing technical textiles for 3-D objects
Due to a lack of new materials and raw materials, processing technology for technical textile materials is becoming increasingly important. With a growing number of new application areas for technical textiles, they are becoming a strong, highly functional replacement for traditional materials including metals and mineral raw materials. This also is continually boosting demand for forming and joining technologies and processing techniques.
By presenting its range of machines and technologies for the processing of flexible materials IMB – World of Textile Processing (April 21 to April 24, 2009 in Cologne) is following the path its exhibitors have taken, moving away from simply supplying clothing technology to becoming high-tech suppliers of a variety of joining and processing technologies.
The growing proportion of technical materials among textiles used worldwide is reflected in the solutions offered by the exhibitors. Here, the focal point and core area of expertise remains concentrated on the manufacturing of three-dimensional hollow objects. Suppliers of machines, systems and services have acquired and demonstrated their expertise and specialist knowledge as problem solvers for the manufacturing and process management of clothing items.
The processing of technical textiles is generally an application-oriented and not a process-driven development, which is why traditional sewing technology initially had to “fight” its way into the area of furniture upholstery, car upholstery, filtration systems and transport container manufacturing. Meanwhile, an intensive trend towards sewing technology can be detected in these areas.
This isn't just because it is technically feasible to produce machines that feature e.g. sewing heads that can be flexibly turned or to combine sewing technology with different processes, but also because cooperation within the value chain, for instance with suppliers of CAD/CAM technology and cutting systems, leads to optimized solutions. Furthermore, sewing or rather stitching technology is also being applied to reinforce certain areas of material or to give material specific properties.
CNC controlled systems, which are as highly flexible as they are specialized, fulfill the wish for secure reproducibility and documentation capability in delicate manufacturing areas, such as airbags. Today, miniaturization and computer-based precise control allow for shapes, seams and radiuses that meet the wishes of the customers and specifications of the end products.
Simulation technology and continued further advances made in product development with the help of 3D tools can prevent costs associated with production of expensive prototypes, especially in the automotive industry. Web-based visual communications software enables global development of products, regardless of time-zones and language barriers.
In airplane manufacturing, for instance, a freely guided rotating sewing head is used to sew “in-situ” partially assembled, three-dimensional components in order to shorten the preparation process. To ensure maximum utilization of material, windmill and helicopter rotor blades are cut using the appropriate nesting software by means of fully automated cutters, with a cutting tool that can be chosen according to the material in question. In the future, as well, it will be the final applications that determine development of the technologies on offer at IMB.