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VASANT R KOTHARI has done Masters in Textiles Technology from DKTEs Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji (Shivaji

University, Kolhapur), Maharashtra. He has also done Diploma in Export Management (Apparel Export) from the Indian Institute of Export Management, and Garment Export and Merchandising Management from NIFT, Bangalore. Presently, hes working as an Assistant Professor in Department of Fashion Technology, NIFT, Bangalore. (This is his twelfth input from the series of articles in Knitting Views)

he term circular covers all those weft knitting machines whose needle beds are arranged in circular cylinders and/or dials, including latch, bearded, or (very occasionally) compound needle machinery, knitting a wide range of fabric structures, garments, hosiery and other articles in a variety of diametres. Circular knitting machines are either of body size or larger, having a single cylinder or double cylinder, cylinder and dial arrangement, as is also the case with small diametre machines for hosiery. The modern circular knitting machine is a highly engineered, electronically controlled, precision knitting system capable of producing high quality fabric at very high speeds. The main features of a circular knitting machine are: 1. The frame or body is circular according to needle bed shape supports the majority of the mechanisms of the machine

2. The yarn supply system or the creel for holding the yarn packages 3. Yarn tensioning devices 4. Yarn feed control 5. Yarn stop motion 6. Yarn feed carriers or guides 7. The knitting system, which includes the housing and driving of knitting elements and needle selection device 8. The fabric take down mechanism

9. Start, stop and inching buttons 10. The automatic lubrication system In circular knitting machine, the yarn from the package is unwounded and comes downward through guides, tensioners, stop motion, for being supplied to the needles. The knitted fabric is taken down inside the cylinder and ultimately rolled on the cloth roller. Since the needles are arranged in a circle on a circular knitting

Fig 12.1: Circular knitting machine

Fig 12.2: Closet view of tubular fabric


machine, the fabric is a tubular. It is usually slit open when used. Normally, circular knitting also adopts the same knitting principles as the flat bed machines. The circular machine starts to knit when the CAM systems on the needle beds (cylinder and dial) move along the surface quite similar to that of the carriage on a flat bed machine. The only difference is that the operation is continuous as CAM system of the circular machine does not need to stop during knitting because there is no beginning or end of a course.

Multi system circular machine

Similar to a flatbed machine, multi-system circular knitting is also possible. Fig 12.4 is a schematic diagram of a circular knitting machine having eight systems. As shown in figure, it is clear that every CAM system is knitting at the same time and each of CAM system is having its own supply of yarn for its own course. So, when the machine runs, all eight systems move together and hence eight courses of fabric are in knitting at the same time. In other words, at the end of one revolution of the CAM system, eight courses of fabric are completed. Similarly, if there is more CAM systems around the machine, there will be more fabric courses being produced in a single revolution of the machine, for example, say if there are 30 CAM systems, 30 courses of fabric will be completed in one revolution of the CAM system.
Package for cam system 1

CAM technology
Circular knitting CAM systems only allow for unidirectional knitting. CAM systems generate both the needle and the sinker moment for single jersey machines and cylinder and dial moment for double jersey machines. The given diagram shows both the sinker CAM track above and the needle CAM track. The needle track shows the typical three stage needle displacement of (1&4) the raising or clearing CAM, (2&3) the lowering or stitch CAM and (5&6) the guard CAM that returns the needle to its entry position for the next CAM system. The sinker track shows the engaged position (section 7) when the needle is clearing. The sinker disengages in sections 8 and 9 so that knock-over can take place and reengages into section 7. The moment diagrams of the needles and sinkers are also shown in between CAMs.

Cam Box 1


As compared to a flatbed machine with a circular machine, the CAM systems of a circular machine always operate at their maximum speed. Also, circular machines always have much more CAM systems than flat bed machines. A double system machine with 100-inch needle bed produces about 45 courses per minute and a 30-inch, 90-feed circular machine produces about 2,700 courses per minute. Further, in circular knitting machine, needle action is a result of the relative motion between the CAM plates and the needle butt. The same needle action will be achieved whether the CAM plate is moving across the needle butt or the needle butt is moving across the CAM plate. So basically, there are two types of circular machines distinguished by the rotation of the machine. I. CAM box revolving machine II. Cylinder revolving machine If the CAM plates are moving across the needle butts, the needle bed or the cylinder will be stationary keeping the needle butts in place while the CAM box carries the CAM plates, yarn feeders with their yarn packages are all rotating around the machine. This type of machine is called CAM box revolving machine. On the other hand, if the needle butts are moving across the CAM plates, the CAM

Fig 12.4: Multi system circular machine

Fig 12.3: CAM system

It may be noted that the number of systems around the machine is limited by the circumference of the needle cylinder. Usually all the space on the circumference is issued up for placing CAM systems. The actual number of CAM systems depends on the cylinder diametre and the dimensions (width) of the CAM boxes. For example, a 30-inch diametre machine may have 72 to 90 CAM systems. Since each CAM system must have its own yarn supply and hence a yarn feeder, such machine can be referred as 30-inch, 90-Feed machine. From above figure, further, it can be seen that whether there are eight systems or 80 systems, the space taken up by the machine will not be changed.



boxes will be stationary keeping the camplates in place. The needle bed will then have to move across the CAM boxes with the needle butts in the needle tricks. For a circular machine, the needle bed is cylinder and then it rotates and that will be the only moving part with the CAM boxes, yarn feeders and yarn packages all stationary. This type of machine is called cylinder revolving machine. It would be clear that cylinder revolving machine is simpler in construction and consumes less power than CAM box revolving machine since there are less

moving components. As a matter of fact, most of the circular machines are cylinder revolving type. Only those machines such as the garment length machines are CAM box revolving because of their complexity. Those are machines with 6-18 feeds producing complex knitting structures which cannot be accomplished if the machine is cylinder revolving. Circular knitting machine is naturally the choice for the volume production. Since it is ideal for volume production, there are purposely built circular machines. For example, plain knit fabric is always in

demand and large quantities. Circular with justone set of needles in the cylinder is available for plain knit only. All other knit structures requiring the second set of needles will be impossible but just producing plain fabric will be able to keep it occupied all the time
Reference: Weft knitting Introduction by Dr TY Lo, Institute of Textiles & Clothing, Hong Kong
(In the next session, we would be discussing about warp knitting.)