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Knitting Technology Developments | Textile World

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Knitting Technology Developments | Textile World
Mayer & Cie.’s OVJA 1.6 EE/2 WT double jersey jacquard machine for multi-colored designs and microstructure elements.

Knitting innovations continue to add value for textile manufacturers during a difficult time.

TW Special Report

Courses, wales, loops, gauge, warp, weft, raschel, jersey, interlock … just some of the terms familiar to people working in the knitting industry. Knitting technology comes in a variety of types and sizes and may be used to make all sorts of products from small vascular heart grafts (see “Prototype Graft Designed To Replace Damaged Heart Vessels Shows Promise In Cell Study”, TW, January/February 2021), to shoe uppers and apparel fabrics all the way to large-scale bedding components and anything in between that requires comfort, stretch and seamless shaping, among other attributes.

Since ITMA 2019 — ITMA typically paving the way for new innovations — and despite difficulties in the machinery market because of the pandemic, knitting technology manufacturers are still innovating and helping their customers provide value. Here is a look at a few new products available to knitters.

Mayer & Cie

After completing field tests, Germany-based Mayer & Cie reports its OVJA 2.4 EM circular knitting machine now is ready for the market. The fully electronic model is designed for mattress cover fabrics with high output and a wide pattern variety. This ready-for-market version builds on the model introduced during ITMA 2019 with the addition of a new thread fluctuation control system positioned on every second feeder. A controlled air stream maintains constant yarn tension especially at high revolutions per minute, which helps avoid thread loops and dropped stitches.

Mayer & Cie.’s OVJA 2.4 EM circular knitting machine is designed for mattress cover fabrics with high output and a wide pattern variety.

“With a feeder density of 2.4 the OVJA 2.4 EM tallies precisely with the current trend toward higher feeder densities that make higher productivity possible,” said Thomas Zizmann, area sales manager at Mayer & Cie. “The OVJA 2.4 EM produces up to 30 kilograms of fabric per hour. That makes it demonstrably the most productive machine of its kind in the world, as shown by its speed factor of 950.”

Relatively new to the mattress market, knitted fabrics have taken off over the last 20 years according to Mayer & Cie in part because of their elasticity and flexibility. However, the market is increasingly competitive, and Mayer & Cie. aims to add value for its customers — mostly premium manufacturers in the United States and Belgium in this sector — by increasing the production output of its mattress machines.

Mayer & Cie also offers the OVJA 1.6 EE/2 WT double jersey jacquard machine for multi-colored designs and microstructure elements including tuck structures, spacer fabrics and double-knit fabric with a lay-in thread. The machine features three-way electronic needle selection in the cylinder and two-way technology in the rib dial. When special needles are employed, the machine can knit yarns up to 1,200 denier in gauges as coarse as E16. Applications include mattress covers, upholstery, transportation seat covers, shoe uppers and outerwear.

In keeping with the digitalization trend, Mayer & Cie. also offers a cloud- and web-based digital solution for the knitting industry via its knitlink technology. knitlink records data from each machine and provides operators with a visual record of the data on a personalized dashboard.

my.shop was recently launched in selected countries, and a web shop for spare parts will be widely available in the near future, according to the company. Additional functions also are in development.

Karl Mayer

On the business side, in 2020 Germany-based Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH acquired H. Stoll Ag & Co. KG., an established name in the flat knitting arena. The purchase broadens Karl Mayer’s product offerings to include both warp knitting and flat knitting solutions. Stoll now operates as an independent business unit within the Karl Mayer corporate group.

In the United States, the Stoll and Karl Mayer North American subsidiaries were consolidated into one location in Greensboro, N.C. An investment at the site, scheduled for completion in March 2021, includes a state-of-the-art textile development and visitor center, which offers demonstrations, training, collaboration opportunities with industry partners, prototyping and an assembly operation for both Karl Mayer and Stoll technologies. Stoll’s core team in Greensboro offers business and technical management, textile design and product development, machine programming and customer service.

“With the new development and visitor center and the synergies that come with combining our capabilities, we offer textile producers and all industries that can imagine the use of textiles an extremely strong resource in North America” said Tony Hooimeijer, president of KARL MAYER North America.

The company also has created a Textile Makerspace platform intended to help connect the textile industry with new technologies to encourage innovation. One focus, Textile Circuit, looks at smart textiles and wearables, and projects are underway at the company’s headquarters in Obertshausen, Germany. The Greensboro location also offers a Makerspace area with a modified standard machine and competent service technicians, according to the company, where U.S.-based customers can develop and implement ideas for e-textiles with support from Sophia Krinner, textile technology product developer, who was charged with setting up Textile Circuit. “Customers can come to us with their ideas and work with us to try out different ways to make their ideas a reality,” Krinner noted.

Karl Mayer’s RD 7/2-6 EN double needle bar raschel machine offers up to 30-percent higher speed compared to its predecessor, according to the company.

On the technology side, Karl Mayer offers some new technologies for the knitting sector. Its RD 7/2-6 EN double needle bar raschel machine offers up to 30-percent higher speed compared to its predecessor the RD 7/2-12 EN, according to the company. First introduced in 2019, the machine can knit 3D fabrics using a trick plate distance of 2 to 6 millimeters. Its EN pattern drive and maximum shogging movement of 1 inch allow patterning variety with up to 12,000 stitch repeats. The machine is available in working widths of 138 and 77 inches in gauges E 18, E 22 and E 24. Fabrics may be used for footwear, clothing and mattress applications.

Karl Mayer’s SwapKnit 36 and SwapKnit 36 Flat can be used to purchase lappings for the HKS 3-M ON machine.

Karl Mayer’s HKS 3-M ON was one of the first machines connected with the company’s digital solutions. The machine can directly download pattern data from the KM.ON secure cloud and does not need to use pattern disks, which allows for easy pattern changes found with EL gears at the speeds associated with N pattern drives. The machine recently was issued in a wider working width of 300 inches for wider or side-by-side production, and is up to 15 percent faster than its predecessor, according to the company.

Karl Mayer offers three interchangeable options for purchasing lappings for the HKS 3-M ON — SwapKnit 36 and SwapKnit 36 Flat for designs up to 36 stitch courses; as well as a variant developed for pattern repeats of more than 36 stitch courses. Patterns for the machines are downloaded from Karl Mayer’s Webshop Spare Parts and loaded on to the knitting machine for fast and flexible pattern changes. According to Karl Mayer, the hybrid machine combines the patterning possibilities of a typical N and EL pattern drive in a single machine.

Shima Seiki

In the early days of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Japan-based Shima Seiki Mfg. Ltd. released free knitting data for masks that could be produced using a variety of its knitting machines including the Wholegarment® technology. The goal was to help Shima Seiki machine owners who were looking to switch production to masks to alleviate the shortage of surgical masks as quickly as possible. The patterns were for 3D form-fitted masks featuring integral ear loops that could be knit in one step with no further sewing required. The designs are available at Shima Seiki’s user website located at shimaseiki.com/user/samplesearch.

Shima Seiki’s yarnbank™ online web service allows users to search and view the latest yarns from a wide variety of companies.

Officially launched in September 2020, Japan-based Shima Seiki Mfg. Ltd.’s yarnbank™ online web service allows users to search and view the latest yarns from a wide variety of companies around the globe, and then download the yarn data for use by fabric simulation and virtual sampling on the Shima Seiki SDA®-onE APEX4 design system. The goal is to give designers the ability to create accurate representations of garments that may be created using yarns that are available for production.

Shima Seiki’s APEXFiz™ is a new subscription-based design software option.

Existing Shima Seiki APEX users can register to use yarnbank free of charge.  In October 2020, the company also launched a subscription-based design software option named APEXFiz™. This offering breaks with Shima Seiki’s tradition of offering only all-in-one proprietary hardware and software packages and allows customers to install the software — available in five different configurations: Design Jr.; Design-Standard; Design-Knit; Design-Weave; and Design Pro — on their individual computers. APEXFiz users also have access to yarnbank.

Shima Seiki reports it “has traditionally promoted design simulation and virtual sampling as an essential part of its ‘Total Fashion System’ concept wherein virtual samples replace physical samples in an effort to reduce time, cost and materials wasted in the sample making phase, further realizing overall efficiency and reduced waste for a sustainable manufacturing supply chain.”

Yarn companies can register their products on yarnbank under a number of different plans. The advantage to yarn manufacturers, according to Shima Seiki, is the ability to “present their yarns directly to their customers.” The yarnbank technology can save time, costs and materials for yarn manufacturers by reducing the dependence on traditional sample books for product promotion.

The SHIMANAVI™ e-learning system provides online training for Shima Seiki’s APEX series users.

Shima also recently released the SHIMANAVI™ e-learning system that provides online training for its APEX series users. The flexible system offers support at the user’s pace when and where it is convenient. Several of the courses are available in multiple languages.

Comez

Some recent technology introductions from Jakob Müller Group company Comez Internationl S.r.l., Italy, include the DNB/600-2B, DNB EL-32 and 800 ACO/EL.

The DNB 600-2B from Comez can produce items such as bands for sportwear accessories and ear loops for surgical masks.

The DNB/600-2B is a high-speed mechanical double needle bed warp knitting machine designed for mass production of items including ear loops for masks and sportswear accessories. The low stitch density required for such articles and high operating speed of the machine equate to very high productivity, according to Comez. Equipped with two mechanically controlled guide bars, the DNB/600-2B can process all types of yarn into double face fabric structures. A compact design and reduced working width result in fast changeovers.

The Comez DNB/EL-32-12B is suitable for knitting technical textiles, medical textiles, shoe uppers and apparel textiles, among other products.

The company’s DNB/EL-32-12B, was first introduced at ITMA 2019. The electronically controlled warp knitting machine is designed for sample production using any yarn in all possible gauges on a single, compact machine. Items that may be produced using the DNB/EL-32-12B include technical textiles, medical textiles, shoe uppers and apparel textiles. The machine’s 12 guide bars and electronic long-throw device with a maximum stroke of 560 millimeters allow more advanced technical fabrics to be produced such as reinforced fabrics, fabrics with continuous weft insertion and technical furnishing fabrics.

Comez’s 800 ACO/EL

Comez’s 800 ACO/EL crochet knitting machine features compound needles, electronically controlled yarn tension and stitch density regulation. Comez reports the machine is suitable for the production of elastic and rigid fabric and tapes, and is ideal for products requiring a lock-stitch structure such as medical and orthopaedic textiles, closed-loop Astrakhan-style fabrics, furnishing ribbons and tapes, and sportwear ribbons, among other articles. The machine is equipped with eight weft bars and is available with an 800-mm working width.

Groz-Beckert developed the SANT™ SF needle and SNK SF sinker for staple fiber yarn knitting applications.

Groz-Beckert

Germany-based Groz-Beckert KG recently introduced the SANT™ SF special application needle and Sinker SNK SF for use when knitting staple fiber yarns with increased fiber fly on large diameter circular knitting machines. In such manufacturing processes, fiber residue, fiber abrasion and dirt can cause deposits in the channels of the needle carrier channel that eventually result in uneven needle seating, tight movement and needle and sinker overheating, which leads to poor quality fabrics and damage to the machine components. The SAN SF needle and SNK SF sinker were designed to reduce dirt accumulation and extend required cleaning intervals to reduce machine downtime.

The staple fiber needle features a closed shank on the back of the needle, and cushions to support the cylinder walls. According to the company, the needle also enhances uniform loop structure.

The sinker has an opening in the front area for lint removal that creates a self-cleaning effect. Use of the sinker reduces fabric defects and wear on machine parts.

Also new from Groz-Beckert is its Academy Mobile Knitting. The company extended its Groz-Beckert Academy with the addition of online seminars that can be accessed from anywhere.

Currently, a new online seminar is available the second Tuesday of each month. Seminars are live and interactive, and attendees can ask the presenter questions using the chat function. The March seminar is titled “Reduced costs when knitting on large diameter circular knitting machines.”  The planned April session is named “Needle handling — Correct cleaning of flat needles.” More information about the seminars can be found at the company’s website.

January/February 2021

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Vermont Health Connect had 10 data breaches last winter

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Vermont Health Connect had 10 data breaches last winter
Vermont Health Connect has set up a special enrollment period in response to the coronavirus outbreak. VHC photo

In mid-December, a Vermont Health Connect user was logging in when the names of two strangers popped up in the newly created account.

The individual, who was trying to sign up for health insurance, deleted the information that had suddenly appeared.

“It was super unsettling to think that someone is filing in my account with my information,” the person, whose name is redacted in records, wrote in a complaint to the Department of Vermont Health Access. “Just seems like the whole thing needs a big overhaul.”

It was one of 10 instances between November and February when Vermont Health Connect users reported logging to find someone else’s information on their account.

The data breaches included names of other applicants and, in some cases, their children’s names, birth dates, citizenship information, annual income, health care plans, and once, the last four digits of a Social Security number, according to nearly 900 pages of public records obtained by VTDigger. On Dec. 22, the department’s staff shut down the site to try to diagnose the problem.

While officials say the glitches have been resolved, it’s the most recent mishap for a system that has historically been plagued by security and technical issues. The breaches could be even more widespread: Administrators of Vermont Health Connect can’t tell if other, similar breaches went unreported.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” said Jon Rajewski, a managing director at the cybersecurity response company Stroz Friedberg. Regardless of whether there are legal ramifications for the incidents, they should be taken “very seriously,” he said.

“If my data was being stored on a website that was personal, — maybe it contains names or my Social Security number, like my status of insurance… — I would expect that website to secure it and keep it safe,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want someone else to access my personal information.”

Andrea De La Bruere, executive director of the Agency of Human Services, called the data breaches “unfortunate.” But she downplayed the severity of the issues. Between November and December, 75,000 people visited the Vermont Health Connect website for a total of 330,000 page views, she said. The 10 incidents? “It’s a very uncommon thing to have happen,” she said.

De La Bruere said the issue was fixed on Feb. 17, and users had reported no similar problems since. The information that was shared was not protected health information, she added, and the breaches didn’t violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

“No matter what the law says technically, whether it’s HIPAA-related or just one’s personal information, it’s really concerning,” said Health Care Advocate Mike Fisher.

The timing of the issue is less than ideal, he added. Thousands of Vermonters will be logging into Vermont Health Connect in the coming weeks to take advantage of discounts granted by the American Rescue Plan. “It’s super important that people can access the system, and that it’s safe and secure,” Fisher said.

A ‘major issue

The issues first arose on Nov, 12, when at least two Vermonters logged in and found information about another user, according to records obtained by VTDigger.

Department of Vermont Health Access workers flagged it as a “major issue” for their boss, Kristine Fortier, a business application support specialist for the department.

Similar incidents also occurred on Nov. 17 and 18, and later on multiple days in December.

Department of Vermont Health Access staff members appeared alarmed at the issues, and IT staff escalated the tickets to “URGENT.”

“YIKES,” wrote a staff member Brittney Richardson. While the people affected were notified, the data breaches were never made public.

State workers pressed OptumInsights, a national health care tech company that hosts and manages Vermont Health Connect, for answers. The state has contracted with the company since 2014. It has paid about $11 million a year for the past four years for maintenance and operations, with more added in “discretionary funds.”

Optum appeared unable to figure out the glitch. “It is hard to find root cause of issue,” wrote Yogi Singh, service delivery manager for Optum on Dec. 10. Optum representatives referred comments on the issues to the state.

By Dec. 14, Grant Steffens, IT manager for the department, raised the alarm. “I’m concerned on the growing number of these reports,” he wrote in an email to Optum.

The company halted the creation of new accounts on Dec, 14, and shut down the site entirely on Dec, 22 to install a temporary fix. “It’s a very complex interplay of many many pieces of software on the back end,” said Darin Prail, agency director of digital services. The complexity made it challenging to identify the problem, and to fix it without introducing any new issues, he said.

In spite of the fixes, a caller reported a similar incident on Jan. 13.

On Feb. 8, a mother logged in to find that she could see her daughter’s information. When she logged into her daughter’s account, the insurance information had been replaced by her own.

“Very weird,” the mother wrote in an emailed complaint.

Optum completed a permanent fix on Feb. 17, according to Prail. Vermont Health Connect has not had a problem since, he said.

Prail said the state had reported the issues to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services as required, and had undergone a regular audit in February that had no findings. The state “persistently pressured Optum to determine the root cause and correct the issue expeditiously but at the same time, cautiously, so as to not introduce additional issues/problems,” he wrote in an email to VTDigger.

“We take reported issues like this very seriously,” he said.

A history of glitches

The state’s health exchange has been replete with problems, including significant security issues and privacy violations, since it was built in 2012 at a cost of $200 million.

The state fired its first contractor, CGI Technology Systems, in 2014. A subcontractor, Exeter, went out of business in 2015. Optum took over for CGI, and continued to provide maintenance and tech support for the system.

Don Turner
Don Turner, right, then the House minority leader, speaks in 2016 about the need to fix the state’s glitch-ridden Vermont Health Connect website. With him are Phil Scott, left, then the lieutenant governor, and Sen. Joe Benning. Photo by Erin Mansfield/VTDigger

In 2018, when Vermont Health Connect was less than 6 years old, a report dubbed the exchange outdated and “obsolete.”

Officials reported similar privacy breaches in 2013, when Vermonters saw other people’s information.

An auditor’s report in 2016 found a slew of cybersecurity flaws, and officials raised concerns again during a  2018 email breach.

It wasn’t the first time that Vermont Health Connect users had been able to view other people’s personal information. Three times since October 2019, individuals had logged in to see another individual’s insurance documents. Prail attributed those incidents to human error, not to system glitch; a staff member uploaded documents to the wrong site, he said.

In spite of the issues, Prail said he and other state officials have been happy with Optum. After years of technical challenges with Vermont Health Connect, “Optum has really picked up the ball and improved it and been running it pretty well,” he said.

Glitches are inevitable, he added, and Optum has addressed them quickly. “They took a really difficult-to-manage site and made it work pretty well,” he said. “Optum is generally quite responsive to any issues we have.”

“I find any privacy breach to be concerning,” said Scott Carbee, chief information security officer for the state. He noted that the state uses “hundreds of software systems.” “While the scope of the breaches can be mitigated, true prevention is a difficult task,” he wrote in an email to VTDigger.

Optum spokesperson Gwen Moore Holliday referred comments to the state, but said the company was “honored” to work with Vermont Health Connect “to support the health care needs of Vermont residents.”

Prail said the Agency of Human Services had no plans to halt its contract with the company. “I don’t have a complaint about Optum,” he said. “They took a really difficult-to-manage site and made it work pretty well.”

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Health Care

Tags: data breaches, Optum, Vermont Health Connect

Katie Jickling

About Katie

Katie Jickling covers health care for VTDigger. She previously reported on Burlington city politics for Seven Days. She has freelanced and interned for half a dozen news organizations, including Vermont Public Radio, the Valley News, Northern Woodlands, Eating Well magazine and the Herald of Randolph. She is a graduate of Hamilton College and a native of Brookfield.