Pressing and finishing have a significant effect on garment appearance, quality and performance. But new garment fabrics and finishes, as well as the need to deskill these operations as production moves offshore, are presenting fresh challenges for manufacturers. Niki Tait explores some of the latest
The Elecrolux Generation 3000 F3WA multifinisher
technical advances.

Hoffman/New Yorker recently developed a series of microprocessor control systems for its machines to ensure high quality while lowering the skill and decision-making required of the operator. The control systems allow the appropriate finishing programme to be selected, edited and monitored by the floor supervisor, technician or a remote engineering station, leaving the operator to dress the garment onto the press and begin the pre-programmed pressing and finishing sequence by pushing a button.

These control systems also prevent the finishing cycle from being tampered with. Many factories use piecework to calculate salary or bonus rates, tempting the operator to shorten the finishing cycle - which also produces an inferior garment. Hoffman/New Yorker's control systems isolate the garment from the operator until the cycle is completed. If the operator attempts to intercept the cycle, the control system will alert the floor manager.

Naomoto, which specialises in underpressing machinery, has designed its NP-110 as an energy and space saving machine that can ease layout changes in the sewing process. Models include the NP-110V/NP-110VB for sleeves, side and centre back and the NP-151, which incorporates microprocessor control for high quality pressing and a deskilled operation. Pressing time, pre-steaming, steaming and vacuum can all be programmed; a cloth roll cover protects fabrics from damage; fine distance adjustment between head and buck avoids impressions and benefits pre- and post steaming; and the vertically acting head ensures even pressure.

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The NP-181 is a similar machine developed for automatic trouser seam opening. It incorporates a simple device that allows the legs to turn after seam opening while a leg tensioner assists seam opening and prevents seam folding.

The correct buck and head shapes on both top and underpressing units will enhance the tailored contour and protect the garment from distortion. The shapes should readily accept the garment during the dressing operation, and in some applications should be capable of selectively applying steam and vacuum to specific areas. Numerous presses are available and garment manufacturers should work closely with suppliers to determine the most suitable for their needs.

From the Hoffman New Yorker jacket range

The Rotondi Group, for example, produces 800 different pressing equipment models. New is an automatic vertical head unit for men's jacket collar pressing which features the patented Rotondi vertical roll system for reducing overall dimensions and eliminating collar stretching. The Rotondi TAR FL-90 + RS-1 ironing table is for smoothing linings and touching-up men's or ladies' jackets and contains the new RS-1 computer to control vacuum and air-blowing.

Brisay's four-part vertical front and back pressing 'robot' has vertically arranged two-step suction pressing bucks and heads with separate chambers for steam and suction. The automatic conveying system has a charging and unloading station and lifts for standard coat hangers.

Perfect creasing
When it comes to pressing trousers, the crease must be straight and meet the pleat perfectly. The Electrolux Generation 3000 solution is to install both the F3CD trouser finisher and a F3TK2 finishing table. The superheated steam injection of the F3CD moistens the fabric to remove creases and the hot air blowing quickly dries and presses the fabric. The versatile design of the finishing table means that it can be used for a wide variety of finishing needs. For high output the F3CD trouser finisher and the F3AC1 utility leg press are recommended. The controlled high pressure of the leg press ensures a sharp crease in the trouser leg and a consistent finish.

For the full final pressing of jackets, the Macpi pressing line consists of four automated units capable of finishing 500 garments within an eight-hour day. The Macpi 521 carousel concentrates on body pressing; the 232 presses the shoulder, sleeve and armhole; the 247 then presses the collar and creases the lapel; while the 500 carousel simultaneously presses the two lapels.

Designed to press 1200 pairs of creased trousers per day, Macpi's automated trouser line features synchronised pressing operations. One of three different trouser leg carousels can be incorporated with automatic unloaders and the Macpi 204.00-0102 topper.

Shirt presentation
Shape, colour and design aside, the way a shirt is pressed and folded has an important influence on the purchase decision. Well-pressed plackets, pockets, yokes, sleeves and side seams make an obvious statement.

Veit's combined collar and cuff press XMK has profiled plates for high quality collar and cuff finishing in one operation. The High Speed Sleeve Press Model XVA has a lower padded pressing plate profiled according to the special shape of shirt sleeves, and can be adjusted for different sleeve lengths. One machine can be used for both the left and right sleeves, though for high production requirements two machines can be combined in tandem.

Veit combination collar and cuff press model XMK

The TwinStar System consists of the HP-V2 shirt press and SLT folding machine to yield high productivity and consistent finishing; a compact system that produces superior quality finishing and presentation. Using the TwinStar System the entire shirt body is pressed, including the side, sleeve and yoke seams. The finish on plackets, pockets, hem and seams is heat-set for wash resistance. Plackets and button facings can be pressed without leaving button marks.

Offered as part of the TwinStar system or independently, the HP-V includes a twin-form cabinet for higher productivity; shaped pressing plates with electrical oil bath heating and precision temperature control for higher quality finishing; and integrated vacuum for correct shirt positioning without clamping marks. Also featured are open pressing for front edges and side seams; air operated collar clamps; and air bags for perfect pressing of side areas.

Wrinkle-free specialist Vaporpress now sells its pressing and finishing equipment through Astechnologies Inc. The range includes shirt and pant pressing systems, steam tables, steam tunnels, boilers, and irons.

Niki Tait, C.Text FBI, FCFI heads Apparel Solutions, which provides independent assistance to the apparel industry in the areas of manufacturing methods, industrial engineering, information technology and quick response.