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Swissmem’s woven fabrics of the future

Adrian Wilson

Members of the Swiss Textile Machinery Association enjoy a leading position in the traditional weaving industry and have the expertise to foster new and exciting applications.

19th March 2021

Adrian Wilson
 |  Zürich, Switzerland

Clothing/​Footwear, Industrial

Shoes and electronic calculators are probably not the first products people would associate with the textile weaving process, but they signpost the future for woven fabrics, as two examples of the ever-wider possibilities of the latest technology in the field.

All weaving markets require innovation, as well as speed, efficiency, quality and sustainability and member firms of the Swiss Textile Machinery Association respond to these needs at every point in the process – from tightening the first thread in the warp to winding the last inch for fabric delivery. They also share a common advantage, with a leading position in the traditional weaving industry as well as the expertise to foster new and exciting applications.


The concept of a ‘textile calculator’ was developed by Jakob Müller Group, in cooperation with the textile research institute Thuringen-Vogtland. Müller’s patented MDW multi-directional weaving technology is able to create the meander fields which allow calculator functions to be accessed at a touch.

Today, the latest woven sports shoes are appreciated for their precise and comfortable fit, scoring through their durability, strength and stability and meeting the requirements of individual athletes across many sports, as well as leisurewear. Stäubli’s jacquard machines offer great flexibility across a wide range of formats, weaving all types of technical textiles, lightweight reinforcement fabrics – and shoes.

It is possible to weave new materials such as ceramics, mix fibres such as aramid and carbon and produce innovative multi-layers with variable thicknesses. Such applications put special demands on weaving machines which are fulfilled by Stäubli high-performance TF weaving systems.

Multi-layer aramid fabric from Stäubli. © Stäubli

Perfect tension

Great weaving results are impossible without perfect warp tension, now available thanks to the electronic warp feeding systems of Crealet. Some market segments in the weaving industry today demand warp let-off systems which meet individual customer requirements. Crealet understands that geotextile products, for example, often need special treatment, as provided by its intelligent warp tension control system. Individual and connective solutions are designed to allow external support via remote link. Crealet’s warp let-off systems are widely used in both ribbon and broadloom weaving, for technical textiles applied on single or multiple warp beams and creels.

Quality standards

Trends in the field of woven narrow fabrics are clearly focused on functionality and sustainability. Jakob Müller is using natural fibres for 100% recyclable labels with a soft-feel selvedge, for example, and also focuses as much as possible on the processing of recycled, synthetic materials. Both PET bottles and polyester waste from production are recycled and processed into elastic and rigid tapes for the apparel industry.

For efficient fabric production environments, it is now recognised that automated quality solutions are essential. Quality standards are increasing and zero-defect levels are mandatory for sensitive applications such as airbags and protective apparel.

Uster’s latest generation of on-loom monitoring and inspection systems offers real operational improvements for weavers. The fabric quality monitoring prevents waste, while the quality assurance system significantly improves first-quality yield for all applications. Protecting fabric makers from costly claims and damaged reputations, automated fabric inspection also removes the need for slow, costly and unreliable manual inspection, freeing operators to focus on higher-skilled jobs.

Smart and collaborative robotics (cobots) also offer many automation possibilities in weaving rooms.

Stäubli’s future oriented robotics division is a driver in this segment with first effective installations in warp and creel preparation.

Control and productivity

Willy Grob’s specialised solutions for woven fabric winding focus on reliable control of tension, keeping it constant from the start of the process right through to the full cloth roll. Continuous digital control is especially important for sensitive fabrics, while performance and productivity are also critical advantages. In this regard, the company’s large-scale batching units can provide ten times the winding capacity of a regular winder integrated in the weaving machine.

The customised concept, design and implementation by Grob result in great flexibility and functionality of the fabric winding equipment. 

There is even more innovation to come in weaving – and in other segments – from members of the Swiss Textile Machinery Association in future.

This confident assertion is founded on an impressive statistic – the 4,077 years of experience behind the creative power of the association’s member firms is proof positive that their developments grow out of profound knowledge and continuous research.

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