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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Different Types of Sewing Machines Used in Garment Industry

A sewing machine is a machine used to stitch fabric and other materials together with thread. It is operated either by turning a handle or by electricity. Sewing is the process of stitch formation involving needle and thread. Although hand sewing was prevalent during the Paleolithic era, most sewing processes could be performed by machines by about 1900. There are different types of sewing machines used in apparel industry. In this article I will discuss different category of sewing machines.

Types of Sewing Machines and Categories:
Basically, the sewing machine is categorized into four main types, very often called divisions. These are as follows:
  1. The basic sewing machine—ISU
  2. Mechanized stitching units—long and short cycles
  3. Semiautomatic machines
  4. Automatic transfer lines
The Basic Sewing Machine:
The basic sewing machine (Figures-1) will consist of the following:
  • The sewing head
  • The machine bed
  • The work top
  • The stand
  • The drive motor
  • The treadle
Schematic diagram of machine.
Figure-1: Schematic diagram of machine.
The ISU is so called because it provides many useful purposes that help reduce operator fatigue, while at the same time improving the efficiency of production. These machines are called basic units, as described earlier, but there is nothing basic about them. Most have built-in computers that produce a variety of time-saving cost-effective functions. Figure-2 shows the various components that the electronics in the machine can control.
Computer controlled sewing machine
Figure-2: Computer controlled sewing machine.
These include the following:
  • Automatic foot lift: Pressing back with your heal on the treadle causes the presser’s foot to rise automatically.
  • Automatic back tack: You can set the machine, so that when you press the foot treadle to start the machine cycle, the machine will feed forward a set number of stitches and then reverse a set number of stitches to reinforce the stitch area at the beginning of the start of your sewing. By pressing back on the treadle with your heal, a similar function is performed, which reinforces the stitch at the end of your sewing. The last thing that you want is for the stitch on your garment to unravel or come undone; this is why this function is so useful.
  • Automatic underbed thread trimmer: This device cuts the sewing threads without the need to use scissors. Again, this function is performed usually at the end of your sewing operation on the seam you have just sewn. You press back firmly on the treadle to achieve this objective.
  • Needle-positioning motors: None of the above could take place without these special motors that make the machine move and perform its operations. These machines use a synchronizer. It positions the needle in exactly the same position each time the machine stops. You would never be able to control the accurate trimming of the sewing thread or automated back tacking without these types of motors. 
Figure-3 shows the vital components for this machine to produce a lockstitch. Check out the diagram below and try to memorize some of the components, as this will help later on.
Stitching components.
Figure-3: Stitching components.
Mechanized Sewing Machines:
Mechanized sewing machines are machines that sew a predetermined stitch line or pattern but still require the machinist to place parts underneath the machine. Examples of these machine operations are as follows:

• Bartacking (Figure-4): For example, belt loops on jeans

Bartack machine.
Figure-4: Bartack machine.
• Button sewing (Figure-5): Trousers, skirts, and so on
Button sewing machine
Figure-5: Button sewing machine
• Button holes (Figure-6): Trousers, jackets, skirts, blouses, shirts, and so on
Button hole machine
Figure-6: Button hole machine
• Profile stitching (Figures-7): Pocket flabs, designs on the pockets of denim jeans, and so on
Profile stitching machine
Figure-7: Profile stitching machine
Semiautomatic Machines:
These offer many features similar to mechanized machines, but they are electronically controlled and are more flexible than their mechanized counterparts. Parts are still entered by a human operator and sewing takes place using an x-y stepper motor arrangement, which can be programmed to give different stitch profiles, similar to the profile stitch machine mentioned previously. However, component parts of the garment can be much larger, and there is usually less human intervention than with mechanized machines. Examples of these machine operations are as follows:

• Embroidery machines (Figure-8)

Embroidery machines
Figure-8: Embroidery machines
• Semiautomatic leg seamers (Figure-9)
Semiautomatic leg seamers
Figure-9: Semiautomatic leg seamers
If we consider the fact that electronics and automation have to some extent taken over our lives and influence our world, particularly in the twenty-first century, technology has enabled the speeding up of production in the apparel industry. We rely on fashionable clothing to make us look good. However, this comes at a price. Companies are investing in automated technology to speed up production, product quality, and profitability. Sewing machine automation is often described as a process by which machine processing of a product is achieved with little or no human intervention. Other descriptions include a product that is machine driven. Despite these definitions described previously, we are still not able to fully automate clothing production to the same extent as the production in the automobile and engineering industries.

Figure-8 shows a 10-headed embroidery machine producing the same pattern along the length of the fabric. The more heads on the embroidery machine, the more production you can produce, and hence, the more cost-effective the product.

Automatic Transfer Lines:
Machine-building companies have, for years, been trying to move toward fully automated environment, trying to develop complete automated production systems. Robotic systems for manufacture have been developed, but these have proved very difficult to implement. Why? A major reason why they have not been successful is because it is very difficult for robots to handle limp materials such as apparel fabrics. Moreover, robotic fingers do not have the same dexterity as human fingers.

  1. Textile and Clothing Design Technology Edited by Tom Cassidy and Parikshit Goswami
  2. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye