Knitting cams

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The other type of cam, the angular knitting cam (see Fig. 3.4), acts directly onto the butts of needles or other elements to produce individual or serial movement in the tricks of a latch needle weft knitting machine.

Two arrangements exist:

  • a) Revolving cylinder machines - the needle butts pass through the stationary cam system and the fabric hanging from the needles revolves with them.
  • b) Reciprocating cam-carriage flat machines or rotating cam-box circular machines - the cams with the yarn feeds pass across the stationary needle beds.

In weft knitting, the yarn feed position is fixed in relation to the cam system (Fig. 3.4). The yarn feed moves with or remains stationary with the cam system, as do the yarn packages and tackle (except in the case of flat machines where the cam-carriage only reciprocates away from and towards the stationary yarn packages and does not revolve).

In the past, most garment-length knitwear and underwear machines have had revolving cam boxes because changes to the cam settings during the garment sequence can be initiated from a single control position as the cam-boxes pass by; also the garment lengths are stationary and may be inspected or removed whilst the machine is knitting. Now, most new electronically-controlled garment-length machines are of the revolving cylinder type as electronics have removed the need for the complex arrangement of rods and levers found, for example, on mechanically-controlled half-hose machines (Fig. 21.3.)

All hosiery machines and all fabric-producing machines are revolving cylinder machines because the weight of revolving multi-feeder yarn packages and tackle creates inertia problems that reduce efficiency and knitting speeds.

Knitting cams are attached, either individually or in unit form, to a cam-plate and, depending upon machine design, are fixed, exchangeable or adjustable. In the last case, on garment-length machines this might occur whilst the machine is in operation. Elements such as holding-down sinkers and pelerine (loop-transfer) points are controlled by their own arrangement of cams attached to a separate cam-plate.

At each yarn feed position there is a set of cams consisting of at least a raising cam, a stitch cam and an upthrow cam (Fig. 3.4.), whose combined effect is to cause a needle to carry out a knitting cycle if required. On circular machines there is a removable cam section or door so that knitting elements can be replaced.

The raising cam causes the needles to be lifted to either tuck, clearing, loop transfer or needle transfer height, depending upon machine design.

The swing cam is fulcrummed so that the butts will be unaffected when it is out of the track and it may also be swung into the track to raise the butts.

The bolt cam can be caused to descend into the cam track to control the element butts or be withdrawn out of action so that the butts pass undisturbed across its face; it is mostly used on garment-length machines to produce changes of rib set-outs.

The stitch cam controls the depth to which the needle descends, thus controlling the amount of yarn drawn into the needle loop; it also functions simultaneously as a knock-over cam.

The upthrow or counter cam takes the needles back to the rest position and allows the newly-formed loops to relax. The stitch cam is normally adjustable for different loop lengths and it may be attached to a slide together with the upthrow cam, so that the two are adjusted in unison. In Fig. 3.4 there is no separate upthrow cam; section X of the raising cam is acting as the upthrow cam.

The guard cams are often placed on the opposite side of the cam-race to limit the movement of the butts and to prevent needles from falling out of track.

Separate cam-boxes are required for each needle bed or associated element bed and they must be linked together or co-ordinated. If the cam-box itself is moving from right-to-left, the needle butts will pass through in a left-to-right direction.

On circular fabric machines, the cams are designed to act in only one direction, but on flat and circular leg-wear machines, the cams are symmetrically arranged to act in both directions of cam-box traverse, with only the leading edges of certain cams in action. All cam systems are a compromise between speed, variety, needle control and selection systems [1].

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