Have you ever been to a sewing machine supplier ? No ? Well, here’s how it can look like.
During our annual IACDE meeting of the german chapter in Bielefeld we had the chance to take a deep dive into the current and historic sewing machine industry. For textile addicts like the IACDE members it was a stunning experience. We started with a general introduction about the history of the companies of Dürkopp and Adler, which were founded in 1860 and 1867 and learned a lot about their ventures in many different arenas like cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and many more, but also from the beginning the sewing industry. Today they are the third largest sewing machine supplier in the world and as such are well structured. If you are interested in more details about them you will find more here.
Then we started our visit in the product development area. Now the biggest surprise for me was the fact that even in this highly engineering industry you find product designer doing hand sketches. As we learned the company works since many years with industry designers and you could see in the hand-drawn sketch that these were a true professionals.
Then, when the designs meets the needs of the inner mechanical secrets, which is fundamental and pretty much the same as in the car industry, and the overall look seems to be nice, the machine block is pre-produced in a whole piece and they do some first trials with attachments and further develop the new machine type. The good thing here is that due to simultaneous engineering methods all involved other teams also develop the inner parts of the new product, either in digital way or in reality.
We learned a lot about this process step, how all the thousands of small pieces are designed in a 3D system and it was also possible to check the resilience and the movement of the corpus digitally when under pressure.
An absolute advantage to our industries movement into 3D design is the fact that only a few materials are elastic, every other piece is somehow stiff and rigid and as such much easier to precisely design and digitally prove in function in CAD systems than our products are. But you will learn in another blog entry that our CAD partners have made a lot of improvements here as well.
For sure, as we read a lot about it in the internet, some of us asked the engineers about 3D printing in this step. What we learned is that for some operations its quite useful but for heavy metal parts like the production of the “transportation feet” they still use CNC-controlled multifunctional lathes. They are much faster, very precise and at the end one machine can handle 5 different operations in one.
Next part was the testing. Here they care a lot about the movement and processes in the machine itself, for example the mechanical parts around the transport and needle handling, how the thread is moved and “tied” in the sewing process, but also how to make the machines move more quietly and smoothly during usage and much more.
In a special Lab they use high speed cameras making movies with 8000 pictures in a second and we could see exactly how and when the needle moves down and up and leaves a small bow with the thread where the circling part of the lower thread compartment can grab it and “tie it” together.
In the same video they can listen to the high end microphones and check if there are some uneven or straining movements and redirect this to the development engineers to improve the machine accordingly.
Also what we visited was a room where they stress test the machines and let them run under full speed and usage. It was incredibly loud there but a made a video. So however loud it may sound on your computer, just double or triple it 🙂
After that we went further to see the production of the machines, the electronic parts and programming, the logistics and distribution and finally the showroom with all its various types for many industries, not only textile.
But this will be continued in the next blog – stay tuned !