One of the futuristic promises of 3D printing in fashion was that one day the technology would allow you to walk into a store, give the staff your measurements, and walk out with a garment made on the spot, just for you.
We’re not there yet, but the scenario is becoming a reality for 3D knitting, a cousin of 3D printing that uses yarn to produce a complete, three-dimensional item. Rather than the stiff plastic product created by a 3D printer – good for some parts of sneakers, less so for clothes – it produces sweaters, jackets, and anything else you could knit.
With over 145 years of creating flatbed knitting machinery, STOLL is a world-renowned enterprise that exports to more than 70 countries all over the world and offers integrated services through affiliated companies, sales, marketing centers, and numerous agencies. The STOLL product portfolio comprises 3D knitting machines and patterning software which are used for the production of fabrics for fashion as well as for technical applications. With innovative technical developments and a modern production environment, STOLL enables a broad spectrum of knitting trends that disrupt the industry as we know it today.
Stoll America Knitting Machinery, Inc. – Stoll America successfully made its North American footprint with its foundation in 1982. The New York City-based facility holds an esteemed market presence within the fashion industry through its strong relations with major brands, designers, and retailers. Their senior programmers work closely with highly skilled specialists to develop their envisioned shapes and patterns into a reality!
In Conversation with Andreas Schellhammer, CEO:
Why was the company set up?
Stoll America was founded because STOLL knew it was imperative to maintain a strong North American presence in the industry. Stoll America holds a vital positioning as companies place more and more effort into the ‘Made in America’ movement. In addition, the proximity to the designers in the US has also been an important factor as to why STOLL founded the North America subsidiary.
Building a culture of sustainability within an organization is very important to maintain a reputation in the global market. How is it true for your company?
At STOLL, we pride ourselves on being an OEM of knitting machinery and software solutions that enable brands and designers alike to produce eco-friendly products. For example, with our STOLL-knit and wear machines, one can knit a complete garment off the machine. Therefore, we have completely eliminated the need to cut-and-sew or produce fully fashioned garments if you want a complete sustainable approach that reduces waste and yarn consumption.
What are the greatest attributes of your organization?
Machinery: STOLL machinery sets an industry standard and enables unrivalled knitting dimensions. For example, our ADF machines are famous for their flexibility, reliability, productivity, and economic efficiency. As a result of the reduced number of carriage strokes and the fact that the yarn carriers move independently from the carriage, knitting sequences are notably optimized as the result is a significantly reduced knitting time. This, in turn, enables cost reductions for each garment made.
Software Solutions: A common industry challenge is rapidly increasing digitalization, process automation, shorter and transparent production cycles, and the need for individual production. With STOLL’s Knitelligence, we have created a modular system that combines STOLL’s software solutions under one platform that covers the entire value chain of flat-knit production. From design to production, Knitelligence (as a whole or its individual software tools) can be easily integrated into existing customer processes.
Fashion & Technology: At Stoll America, our Fashion and Technology team has worked with emerging and esteemed designers and brands alike on knitwear development solutions since 2009. Stoll FTNY not only presents solutions for yarn sourcing but also helps manufacturers discover innovative ways to combine knitwear design and functionality. We work with some of NYC’s most respected and influential industry players!
Technical Textiles: From idea to implementation, our Technical Textiles department provides endless possibilities! While working with Stoll America’s TT department, you can achieve fast, flexible, and economical production of complex shapes (even for single pieces) as well as combinations of knitted constructions, materials, and two- or three-dimensional structures (in ONE piece of fabric). STOLL helps brands create textile products and incorporate technical functionality with no material limitations!
Training & Education: Each year, STOLL trains over 2,000 knitting technicians worldwide. Exclusive and custom seminars can range from state-of-the-art knitting technology to yarn knowledge to production. No matter which specialized seminar is best suited to a company’s needs, the end result will be a better insight into the process flow of design to prototype to development.
Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
Given the vastness of change from 1873 to now, our expectations are quite high! This could better be answered in two parts – what do we anticipate for STOLL in the short-term, and what do we anticipate for STOLL in the long-term?
Short-Term: Over the next 2-5 years, we plan to continue disrupting industry standards with more additions to our machinery and software portfolio. As there has been an increasing demand for STOLL’s ADF machine and its novelty techniques (plating, weft inlaying, and quilting), it can be safe to assume that there will be more to come in regards to the ADF machine and corresponding software solutions.
We also plan to expand our Digital Textile Factory through our collaboration with Myant. We will be implanting several Centers of Excellence across North America.
Long-Term: Our Knitelligence solutions currently thrive in the world of IoT and Industry 4.0. In short, Knitelligence encompasses all STOLL software solutions that cover the entire knitter’s process on our machines – from design to production. In the long-term, keeping up with technology and adhering to the needs of the designer, the knitter, and the manufacturer will be of the utmost importance. This holds true to our new business sectors for which automated manufacturing – geared closer to the end customer – will be the key focus.
Stoll Leadership: A Brief Background
Andreas Schellhammer, of H. Stoll AG & Co. KG: Andreas Schellhammer is the Chief Executive Officer of STOLL. He has vast experience in Innovation Management, Product Development, Production and Supply Chain, Global Operations, Organizational Development, Strategic Portfolio Development, and Business Strategy. Mr. Schellhammer earned an MBA in Innovation Management from Henley Management College.