Faster time-to-market, better quality and lower cost are the drivers behind the latest developments unveiled at last week's Texprocess and Techtextil trade fairs in Frankfurt, Germany. Here, just-style presents a snapshot of some of the innovations on show for apparel makers.

The AneSoft sewing thread from American & Efird (A&E) is intended to improve the softness of seams in applications such as activewear, yogawear, swimwear and intimate apparel. The micro-denier textured polyester construction is also said to provide excellent covering properties and the extensibility necessary for knit garments.

A new bonding machine from Brother is expected to replace some sewing operations, especially in lingerie and underwear. The BM-1000 applies glue especially developed for Brother and presses the seam in one process, which is said to make the operation three-times faster than other bonding machines. Brother points out that the glue is stronger than adhesive tapes, and that because it is applied through a nozzle the unit can be used like a sewing machine. 

Also from Brother is the S-7000DD single needle direct drive lockstitcher with thread trimmer, which features a new motor that reduces power consumption by around 50% compared with a V-belt driven system. It also offers "clean sewing without oil staining" with either a sealed oil tank (max sewing speed 5,000 rpm) or completely dry lubrication-free rotary hook (max sewing speed 4,000 rpm).

A web-based system from Coats for matching colours can help reduce the turnaround time for sample thread production to two or three days and optimise order management. The Coats Colour Express service incorporates the Colour Capsure device, which accurately identifies colours in a material and matches them to a thread shade. The sample order is then digitally transferred to Coats' network of colour labs for immediate production.

Material handling systems specialist Eton Systems has developed a new touch screen terminal for smart phones and tablets that enables users to monitor and control production wherever they are in a facility. The screen can be used at all workstations - eliminating the need to attach a terminal to each one - and presents a large amount of information simultaneously, enabling users to choose what data to show or update.

Gerber Technology's new Yunique 360 Interactive Sample Capture, unveiled for the first time at Texprocess, can help to speed sampling time by reducing the need to send physical samples back and forth. Brand owners and suppliers can capture a 360-degree view of a sample on a model or form and share these images, complete with annotation and mark-ups, via YuniquePLM.

Gerber's Vstitcher 3D pattern draping software also enables apparel companies to transform 2D patterns into 3D draped garments on virtual models. This again helps reduce time-to-market as well as the costs associated with sample making.

The latest release of Gerber Technology's YuniquePLM not only expands sourcing and vendor management, but also integrates with Adobe Illustrator. There is also more visibility into the cost of production, with "what if" scenarios enabling teams to determine if a product will meet profitability expectations before designers begin a concept or generate a piece of artwork.

The 3D Vidya virtual product development system from Human Solutions enables brands and retailers to fit and adjust garments on true-to-life virtual models or avatars personalised using their own customer size and body shape data. The software takes original cut data from 2D CAD, and offers a preview of the unstitched 3D cut pieces on the model. The photo-realistic images can also be used in marketing, sales catalogues and advertising.

Human Solutions already has more than 350 users of its cloud-based applications - such as Automarker, Autocost and iSize - and the latest step has been to extend this to a complete Fashion Cloud platform where companies can share development and production data quickly, securely and in real-time. There are new features for saving data and automatically synchronising files, so that everyone has the same information, for example when changes are made to pattern pieces and markers.

Durkopp Adler developed its 'self-learning grading software' for inserting sleeves into armholes to help to improve efficiency and quality by distributing the fabric fullness automatically. It will also auto-adjust for different sized garments with the need for manual input. The software can also be used to tape armholes and pre-ruffle sleeve heads.

Swiss embroidery specialist Forster Rohner has introduced an industrial production process to integrate LED lights into an embroidered fabric design without compromising on core textile properties like washability and drape. The company's e-broidery technology "opens up a new dimension in design" and can be produced on a commercial scale. Products can withstand up to 40 washes, and are powered by a removable battery. Lingerie brand Valisere is launching a LED basque this autumn.

The latest innovation in Vilene interlinings from Freudenberg Nonwovens is bi-elastic 3D shaping interlinings that give a "perfect fit" for women's, men's and boys' outerwear. Another new product is a soft, lightweight volume fleece that can replace down as a warm lining. And the Evolon lightweight microfilament fabric is recommended for products like bathrobes where it can absorb up to 450% of its own weight in liquid.

Grafis focused on Version 11 of its pattern design and grading software, which features new interactive tools to help reduce pattern development time and make the process more intuitive. Body measurement and size charts have been improved; individual measurement charts can be generated, edited and compared directly in a table as a grade run; a filter can reduce the display to just the most relevant measurements; and the 'Bestfit' function automatically finds the best size for made-to-measure production. The Grafis Layplan has a new feature that enables a production style to be generated automatically from a style file.

Invista's Cordura brand fabric division presented the latest collection of Cordura AFT (Air Flow Technology) fabric for outdoor, athletic, and safety footwear, as well as performance apparel such as motorcycle and outerwear garments. The highly breathable collection of knit constructions has enhanced abrasion and tear strength. The line has been expanded to include high tenacity polyester and nylon 6,6 fibre offerings in a range of knits and 3D/spacer fabrics.

Recent product launches from Lectra include the new Kaledo V3R3 textile design suite, which offers a wider range of tools to create and manage colourways more effectively on printed, woven or knitted fabrics. It also enables designers to improve workflow and retain better control over their designs.

And the latest version of the company's Modaris V7R2 product development solution for pattern making, grading and 3D prototyping helps streamline pattern development with options to boost speed, flexibility and control.

A range of bonding systems to meet growing demand for stitch-free garments such as intimate apparel and sportswear were highlighted by Macpi. Different configurations are available for different fabrics and end-uses, including waterproof seams on three-layered soft shell fabrics. The multi-functional 337.30 performs several operations such as lay-down, edge binding and seam sealing, while a new cooling station can drop several hundred degrees in a few seconds, eliminating the need to wait for 24 hours to stabilise the seam.

UK-based Nixtex teamed up with textile machine agent C-Tex to design a monitoring system to help eliminate colour mismatching in sewn products such as garments. C-Tex Colour can identify the smallest differences in colour variations within a fabric at speeds of up to 200m per minute before it is cut and sewn. Nixtex says the accuracy of C-Tex Colour is five times better than can be achieved visually. The system, which provides a pass or fail report based on the colour, can be fitted onto a company's existing fabric inspection machine.

Outlast Technologies is extending its heat-managing phase change materials (PCM) to new fibres and end-uses - with one such development including what is said to be the first PCM polyester fibrefill. Currently used as filling for duvets, pillows and sleeping bags to help balance temperature and humidity, the company is also looking at apparel applications, including insulation for jackets and other products.

Industrial sewing machinery maker Pfaff has introduced a new operating concept that uses a tablet device and Smart Seaming app to control its equipment. Users can collect and process data using the device and exchange it with the factory's ERP system. Smart Seaming also offers the ability to upload service manuals and tutorials on how to thread the machine.

Pfaff also launched the 3590 Portal unit with a sewing area of 1200 x 700mm - and said another of 2,000 x 1200mm is in development. Features include a step motor driven presser foot so that the correct height can be set for different material thicknesses, and a maximum speed of 1500 stitches a minute. It also incorporates discontinuous feeding so that when the needle is in the material it does not move forward.

PTC's focus on preconfigured solutions has led to the development of its latest Retail PLM tool, which captures best practices and industry-specific functionality.

TITV Greiz has modified conventional Tajima multi-head embroidery machinery so that it can be used to manufacture illuminated textiles with LEDs, including conductor paths, component placement and LED contacts. The company says the development enables automated manufacturing of illuminated textiles  in both large and small volumes. The automated component feed also ensures exact placing of components and makes the process repeatable.

Trans-Textil unveiled a new Topaz Carbon Membrane for protective clothing. The product offers an alternative to the conductive thread that provides EN 1149 protective clothing with its electrostatic properties and is generally woven into the fabric used as the outer layer. The new membrane provides the same properties but in the breathable moisture barrier, which enables a wider choice in outer fabrics to be used.  

The new 8326 shirt finisher with moisture control from Veit features an integrated sensor that detects when the fabric is dry and automatically ends the processing cycle. Not only does this help to save energy, the company says productivity also increases, especially in the case of thinner materials.

The new Tajima TMAR-K1202C embroidery machine features an adjustable presser foot whose height can be raised to allow embroidering of thicker material and leather and for 3D embroidery.

The "ultra-fast" Topcut-Bullmer PremiumCut single ply cutter is said to be suitable for all materials and operates at speeds of up to 250 metres per minute. It can cut a pair of trousers in a few seconds, but the addition of different interchangeable tool sets also enables it to cut plastics and solid materials. The material is held firmly against the cutting bed by a powerful vacuum without the need for paper or foil on top, and the conveyor automatically advances the material.

Sewing machine maker Yamato specialises in chainstitch or coverstitch machines, the nature of which means they unravel from the end and require a lockstitch or bartacker to anchor them securely. Its new Q-Finish eliminates this unravelling - eliminating one process the factory or manufacturer has to carry out and improving the appearance of the garment. Eliminating the lockstitch also means the seam has better elasticity and is more comfortable against the skin.