In order to be able to economically produce smaller quantities, which are increasingly demanded by the market, the technology must become increasingly flexible. The Institute of Floor Systems (TFI) in cooperation with the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) – both at the RWTH Aachen University – has developed a novel technology that allows machine parameters for the production of patterned goods (e.g. floor coverings) to be changed quickly.
The market trend for textile floor coverings is moving away from rigid series production towards order- or customer-oriented production with reduced batch sizes. Just as Weserland does every day with its tailor-made solutions. The requirements have changed fundamentally and individualised products are in high demand.
For producers of textile floor coverings to keep pace with this trend, the production processes must be quickly and reproduceably adaptable to the characteristics of the different articles. A change of pattern, however, requires a lot of retooling. This not only leads to a loss of production, but also prevents the possibility of changing a pattern regularly or irregularly within the on-going process.
Together with ITA, the TFI developed a solution to the problem of rigid needle attachment. This has considerably increased the flexibility of the tufting process and thus ensured the future viability of tufting technology. An important step, because tufting is a highly efficient process for the production of textile floor coverings with pile structure.
Bearingless System Enables Flexible Processes
One approach to solving the problems has long been the use of needles in cranked versions. These are special designs in which the needles of the rear and front barre are cranked towards each other. The needles are still arranged on a front and rear barre, but are mounted in a holder so that they can be moved relative to each other. This allows the distance between the rows of needles to be adjusted variably up to a straight alignment. However, this VSN technology did not show the desired results in industrial use.
The starting point for the development of the new solution approach was the analysis of the forces and loads arising in the tufting process. A solution consisting of connecting rod and eccentric was ultimately chosen. The function-determining element is a flexible fibre composite plastic component.
The adjustment is now infinitely variable and is even possible during the tufting process. This results in completely new design possibilities and a significantly denser fabric. This increased density due to the angled arrangement is particularly relevant in areas where the fabric is to be formed (e.g. in the automotive sector).
The many advantages of components made of fibre composite plastic range from individual design options to a considerable reduction in weight compared to steel. In addition, dynamic loads caused by the cyclically moving components are reduced. The result is improved running smoothness and a more precise tufting process with fewer faults and interruptions.