Karl Mayer: Tailor-made products using 3D pri...
Karl Mayer

Tailor-made products using 3D printing

(Source: Karl Mayer)
(Source: Karl Mayer)

In a homogenous process according to the roll-to-roll principle, an innovation from Karl Mayer combines warp knitted textile manufacturing with 3D printing. The result is maximum flexibility and efficiency in manufacturing customized products.
The world of sportswear is already showing what is possible. Mass-produced articles complete with 3D printed branding and functional elements are already firmly established in this domain. In addition, the carbon footprint of newly developed products is good, since savings are made on material and energy-intensive working steps. The new 3D inline printer can be used for manufacturing prototypes and equipping textile products with reinforced areas as well as design or function elements for additional benefits.
With this printing solution, the textile is printed directly after it has been manufactured on the warp knitting machine. This involves the machine directly communicating with the printer’s pattern system to enable targeted control. The inline printing head can be moved quickly to every necessary manufacturing position. It is mounted on an H-gantry and can be moved in all directions in space at a speed of 5 m/s. A camera system and a pattern recognition software ensure high precision during positioning of the printing head on the 2x1 m printing field.

(Source: Karl Mayer)
(Source: Karl Mayer)
The current printer version processes polyurethane and silicone without heat. The materials generally used in textile finishing are applied at a printing speed equivalent to a textile production of 85 m²/h with a warp knitting machine working width of 138".
The new 3D printing system from Karl Mayer Group, Obertshausen/Germany, combines the high productivity of warp knitting machines with the superior flexibility of additive manufacturing, thus offering the opportunity to cut production steps. The complexity of the machine handling is also reduced through a simple pattern system.
Thanks to these advantages, the innovation is particularly suitable for customizing products. Through direct printing onto the fabric, large quantities of textile articles can be decorated with logos, brand designations or team names.
In the sport sector, where high demands are placed on product performance, the new 3D printing system can easily be integrated in functional sport outfits. Shoes also benefit from the opportunity of being designed to be wear-resistant in areas which are under the most stress. Other opportunities are customized designs through to 4D printed shoes and efficient production “on demand”.
The automotive sector can use the efficient 3D printing system, for example, to integrate reinforcements into door panels, roof liners and seats. Designs, team logos and company names can be applied easily and accurately for use in automotive interiors. Future-oriented implementations are also conceivable, such as the integration of switches in textile structures, the use of textiles for control purposes and protective covers for electronic components.

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