Advancements in stitch-free technology could mean the next iterations of beloved yoga pants will come seam free and cost less.
There are multiple methods for welding, or joining pieces of synthetic fabrics, but the end results are similar: garments that are less bulky, waterproof, not subject to thread degradation and require limited materials for production.
“With the advent of technical fabric, most of them do have a thermoplastic property, and because of that it lends itself to welding,” Traci Evling, president of JTE Machine, a welding and automation solutions provider, said at a panel on welding at Texprocess Americas and Techtextil North America Thursday.
Thermoplastic essentially means a fabric becomes liquefied when heated up, which means it’s able to be welded, so candidates include polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene and polyurethane coated nylon to name a few. It’s important to note, however, that not all synthetics are thermoplastic.
And as Karl Herzer, product manager for welding machines at Pfaff Industrial, added, “If you have a finish on the fabric you also have to test it first because some won’t react well.”
But why weld? Apart from the garment specific benefits like strength and the faster speed of production, it’s a way for companies not only to tap the growing automation trend, but to foray into advanced textile products.
“U.S. market segments in advanced textile products is a $5 billion industry,” Evling said. “Making these products through welding is a way for businesses like yours to get involved with this market at a very low cost.”
Investment up front in welding technologies, could mean that down the line, manufacturing those yoga pants becomes more cost effective as there will be no need for needles and thread, equipment won’t require replacement often and there will be no time lost while sewing operators stop to change thread.
More than cost, quality gets an upgrade too.
“There’s a consistency about welding that can be achieved where sewing is very much operator dependent.”