Bangladesh’s knitting industry is currently moving through new technology shift from low-valued sewn shirts and sweaters to high-value-added seamless active wear. Seamless garment knitting technology is an innovative concept for making garments without seams or with partial seams. This technology entered the mainstream knitwear market in the late 20th century, almost 35 years ago in Europe, however, it’s a journey to Bangladesh began in 2015 with Fakhruddin Textile Mills Ltd. This innovative technology was committed to eliminating additional labor and minimizing production time in garment manufacturing. We know that most of the garments are used for a few days and there are various sewing problems which can be reduced by using this technology. By eliminating fabric, spreading, cutting and sewing processes, complete garment manufacturing and production offers various benefits such as cost and time savings and plays an important role in the rapid production of products.
What is Seamless Garment?
Seamless garment is special apparels made using a circular loom with a special knitting technology or computerized flat-bed Whole Garment m/c without any sewing/stitching, which is completely integrated with the body, which is like a second skin and comfortable. The seamless process is an innovative technology of creating knitted garment for manufacturing. With the help of seamless garment technology, very elegant outer wear, sports-wear, medical textiles, automobiles and intimate apparels can be made. Seamless garment technology is an advancement in the textile industry, where there is no regular fabric sewing process. Lately this new technology is becoming very popular in western countries, because of the convenience of wearing seamless clothes.
How Does Seamless Garments Technology Work?
The technique of making Seamless Garments is relatively simple but costly, actually initial cost is higher. Generally, garment production requires various processes after knitting including cutting and sewing. But seamless technology eliminates those processes. Seamless garments can be made through various ways, some are mentioned below-
- By using a computerized Flat-bed knitting machine: Different garment parts are made by inputting the pattern size & design into the machine, which is created by computer. After then the parts of the garment are joined with the help of a linking machine.
- By using a computerized Flat-bed Whole the Garment machine: This technology is very new to us, invented by SHIMA SEIKI. In this technology, after finalizing the size, color and design of the garment with the help of a computer, the data is inputted into the machine and with a digital stitch-controlling system the whole garment comes out without a linking process. This technology helps to minimize labor costs, production time and fabric wastage.
- By adhesive or welding method: In this method, garment parts are partially seamed and mostly joined by welding or by using adhesive. So, it is not only eliminating most of the sewing construction from around the neck, waist and hip lines but replacing it with special adhesive glue (Hot melt Adhesive TPU Film) or welding method to create leaner and more dynamic sports-wear, underwear or active wear of comfort. In this way up to 35% of production time can be saved.
- By Santoni Seamless Knitting machine: Some cutting-edge circular knitting machines are used to make seamless garments, most of which are made in Italy. These machines make complete garments based on pre-programmed computer commands with which garments can be made with different stitch patterns. A complete garment is made by widening or narrowing a section of fabric through loop transfer to increase or decrease the number of wales. It saves production cost up to 40 percent compared to conventional knitting technology.
Advantages of Seamless Garments Technology:
Any new technology has unique advantages, both commercially and economically, and this seamless knitting technology is no exception. The following benefits of seamless garments technology compared to the conventional garments production system are discussed below:
1. Ease of Body Movement: Usually the elasticity in the seam area of any kind of garments is not the same as the elasticity of the body fabric, so this difference in elasticity will affect body movement. Since there are no stitches in the structure of seamless garments, people are saved from this problem.
2. Wide Range of Fit for Different Body Shapes: One of the advantages of seamless clothing is that seamless clothing of a specific measurement fits different body shapes due to its high elasticity property. This facility is not available in conventional clothes.
3. Inherent Softness: There are no heavy and annoying stitches at underarm points, shoulder and neck joints, which can cause discomfort or irritation to the wearer, since seamless garments do not have any stitches, it only provides comfort and soft feeling.
4. Reducing the Labor Cost: Since there is no hassle of fabric spreading, cutting or sewing in seamless garment technology, additional workers are not required for these processes, as a result the labor cost has been reduced to a great extent.
5. Low Yarn Consumption: We know that most of the fabric is wasted in the cutting process while making clothes, since there is no need to cut the fabric to make these seamless clothes, there is no fabric wastage, so less yarn is required to make that particular clothing. Additionally, yarn consumption during knitting can be reduced by effectively analyzing the yarn feed through a computerized system in the knitting machine.
6. Required Smaller Working Space: Seamless garment production systems require less space as there is no fabric spreading, cutting or sewing presses.
7. Reducing Yarn & Fabric Inventory: Cutting and sewing processes require heavy inventory of fabric and yarn and also these need to be maintained, but seamless garment production does not require maintenance of this huge inventory.
8. Quick Sample Preparation: Sampling is a costly and time-consuming process as small parts of fabric as well as necessary accessories have to be prepared. Since the seamless garment-producing technique does not have these problems, samples can be prepared quickly.
9. Less Product Failure: Garments usually fail due to seam failure, since there is no seam in seamless garment technology, garment failure is very less.
10. Special Items: Seamless garments conform smoothly to the body shape, using antimicrobial and hydrophilic yarns, the softness of seamless knitwear creates the best properties for active wear.
11. Lower Production Cost: It saves up to 40 percent production cost compared to the traditional garment production (cut & sew process) system. Hence this technology supports cost-effective production.
12. Design Possibilities: With seamless garment technology there are endless design possibilities, a variety of stitches can be achieved within a single garment, for example: a jersey knit can be placed side by side with a mesh knit, a rib knit, a jacquard knit etc.
13. Reducing Production Time: With the help of seamless technology, the garments are made in short time as there is no hassle of fabric spreading, cutting and sewing.
14. Durability: Seamless garments are more durable while providing better fitting and comfort to the customers as there is no dyeing, finishing and tailoring processes, a complete garment can be made directly from the yarn. So, its durability is quite good compared to normal clothes.
Disadvantages of Seamless Garments Technology:
Although seamless garment technology offers various advantages to the knitting industry, it also has several technical problems, which are discussed below:
1. Technical Problems: There are some technical limitations in making garments of different shapes with seamless garment technology, i.e., fabric takedown is the main problem in keeping the tension of each loop/stitch equal. Another problem arises during alternative needle selection, which makes the fabric more open and less elastic than conventional fashion garments, this problem is mainly seen in the welt or cuff area.
2. High Initial Cost: Machines used for making seamless garments are very expensive and there is a lack of skilled operators to operate these machines.
3. Defects: A defect (especially a hole or barre) during knitting of seamless garments damages the entire garment. And that garment becomes unfit for sale and to wear.
4. High Price: The price of seamless garments is higher than the garments produced by cutting and sewing. Also, labor cost is higher for hiring skilled operator.
5. Difficult Pattern Design: Garment pattern designing in Jacquard is a very difficult task along with fabric design. And the knitting machine setting needs to be changed frequently.
Applications of Seamless Garments:
Seamless garments are preferred by wearers for their comfort, snug-fitting, durability and aesthetic features. Apart from general apparel, seamless technology has wide applications in various fields such as swimwear, underwear, sleepwear, leisure wear, upholstery, automotive and industrial textiles, sports textiles, medical textiles and intimate apparel. Some of the major applications of seamless technology are discussed in the following sections:
Various types of seamless products like hand gloves, socks, caps, t-shirts, trousers, skirts and sweaters are manufactured by using seamless technology, which is in high demand nowadays. The design/shape of these wearable products varies based on the machine type and gauge. Besides, seamless trouser and skirt-making machines are available in pilot form.
2. Sports Wear:
Seamless knitting technology is being used to make not only clothing but also many types of sportswear, which are committed to comfort as well as enhancing player performance. Creating seamless clothing by this supports the muscles and focus on the areas where it’s needed most. Sportswear is created with an engineered fit, micro-massaging properties and performance innovation, using a blend of different technical fibers and yarns to achieve the functional requirements. The development of advanced second-skin textiles has led to renewed interest in the production of seamless garments for sports applications. A wide range of products such as hand gloves, hats, socks, sports underwear, leisure wear and t-shirts are the most obvious applications.
3. Intimate Apparel:
Modern seamless garment knitting technology has enabled everything from hosiery production to smooth body-wear, lingerie items and performance based active wear. This allows for the creation of wearable 3D tubular garments directly from yarn without any cutting/stitching process. Currently this technology is applied to underwear, body-wear, outerwear, swimwear, yoga leggings, lingerie and sanitary wear which are converted directly from yarn into a complete garment. Intimates produced by seamless technology are seam-free, comfortable and easy to fit and feel like a second skin. Seamless lingerie is designed to provide maximum comfort and support, without any visible lines or seams. It’s perfect for wearing under tight fitting clothes, as it won’t create any bulges or bumps.
4. Automotive and Industrial Textiles:
In 1985, Courtaulds and General Motors Corporation developed new 3D knitting technology for their seat covers, and Marjorie Sorge proposed an idea for a seamless knitting technique for a similar application. Researches have shown that automotive seat covers made through knitting have huge market potential and also reduce warranty costs. In industrial applications, fibers such as Kevlar provide seamless filament knit gloves and clothing that are lightweight, flexible and comfortable for workers in electronics, food-handling, paint, plastics and other high-precision industrial sectors.
5. Medical Textiles:
3D knitted fabric is also used for medical purposes. Some examples include tubular knitted structures such as bandages, orthopedic supports and medical compression stockings. Wearable electronics made from knitted structures are used for online health monitoring as well as military applications. Textronics Inc. has developed a textro-monitoring system that is used to monitor human biophysical parameters such as respiration and heart rate. The circular knitting machine manufactured by the Information Resource Management Association of Canada (IRMAC) is used to manufacture caps, head bands and scarves.
The latest computerized knitting machines for making seamless garments have the potential to create technically as well as aesthetically advanced designs. Three-dimensional seamless seat of office chairs can be easily manufactured using state-of-the-art computerized systems. Engineered design helps to increase the performance of knitting structures in the manufacture of various knitwear. This recent development of upholstery using seamless knitting technology is one of the innovations.
Global Seamless Wear Market Size
The global seamless underwear market size was $41.64 billion in 2021. According to Business Research Insights, the seamless underwear market is expected to reach $65.99 billion in 2027. It will exhibit a CAGR of 7.98% during the forecast period assuming 2021 as the base year. This sudden increase in CAGR is observed due to the increase in the demand of this market after the corona pandemic. One of the reasons for the increasing market demand of seamless underwear is that they are usually made of synthetic fabrics like lycra, spandex and starchy materials, which help to wick moisture away from the skin. There are different styles of seamless underwear available including briefs, thongs and bikinis. Lately, the seamless garment market is expanding rapidly with the growing trend of fashionable garments. Seamless bras and panties are the largest segment among seamless garments.
Seamless Garments in Bangladesh
Seamless garments technology that will reduce production time, fabric wastage and labor costs in terms of labor wages in manufacturing. In future, producing seamless garments using the above technologies will also add value to the garments, which will help increase Bangladesh’s export to the European market. There is a huge demand for this seamless garment in the western countries, especially the demand for seamless sportswear, leisure wear, active wear and intimate wear is increased day by day. Currently the export income of Bangladesh is increasing in the European market, so the garment manufacturers of Bangladesh can take this huge opportunity to make a good position through the export of seamless clothing. There are many seamless garments producers and suppliers in Bangladesh, some of them are-
- Fakhruddin Textile Mills Ltd.
- Ecta Dhaka Ltd.
- Ever Fashion
- Marinetrans India Pvt. Ltd.
- Urmi Group
- New Line Clothings Ltd.
- Lm Trading co. Ltd.
- JM Fabrics Ltd.
- Islam Garments Ltd.
- Shanghai All Link Logistics Ltd.
By this study we can conclude of some of the important points as seamless knitting technology can directly produce complete products. Seamless garment made of tubular material are well known and these products are market pioneers due to their features of smooth fit, comfort, invisibility and easy care. Global trends indicate that seamless clothing, especially seamless lingerie items, sport bra, swim wear, active wear, sweater and leggings are becoming more popular among the youth of the current generation. Lot of innovations are being carried out in seamless technology and this will change the transformation in apparel business. Bangladesh has huge potential in the seamless garment market if it provides proper educational and training facilities and innovates versatile design features.
- Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
- Fundamentals and Advances in Knitting Technology by Sadhan C. Ray
- Advances in Women’s Intimate Apparel Technology Edited by Winnie Yu
- Textiles for Sportswear Edited by Roshan Shishoo
- Seamless textiles with inherent shape -Thesis submitted by Kim Anderson
- Mass customization of knitted garments- JTA- Sanjay Gupta
- Three Dimensional Seamless Garment knitting on V bed flat bed machine by Wonseok and Nancy