1950 Today

FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE PRESENT DAY More than 40 years of progress
The very special field of flat knitting machines is, by its very nature, one of high technology, in which Research and Development are key elements in retaining a competitive edge. High technology and continual innovation are the routes by which a company maintains that competitiveness against its rivals in the global marketplace.
As one of the world's leading manufacturers of flat knitting machines, PROTTI SpA has always been counted amongst those who have given the highest attention to innovative ideas.


1957: The P457

1948: Mechanisation

The PT4 machine


After having alleviated the very heavy manual work of the operators of hand machines, by converting them to motor drives and then producing these machines right up to the early fifties, we produced the first automatic flat knitting machine: the P457, in its two versions, B and T4.

Characterised by a chain-controlled mechanical movement, this machine represented just the first step on an increasingly more sophisticated technological path. Only a short time elapsed before the development of the first automatic machines with pasteboard card control, which featured an ever-increasing number of functions and commands that were operative for the full traverse of the carriage.

Among these were the PT4, (which was also available as the PT-tr, with stitch transfer on both beds and as the PT4dc, a double-system version), the PFS, (which introduced jacks selection and was available in double-system as the PFSdc), the PRT, (available in double-system as the PRTdc and in the coarse gauges 2, 2½ and 3 as the PRT6), the PET4 and PERT series, (on which, for the first time, pasteboard card control gave way to a system of electronic programming) and the famous P80, which, in its PE80 version, featured an electronic programming unit.


The PAJ machine

1971: the PDE machine

INDIVIDUAL NEEDLE SELECTION the PAJ and PDE series with electronic programming
Mechanical control of machines by chains or by pasteboard cards, used to good effect on the above models, soon showed its limitations, both as regards design possibilities and in terms of the length of time needed to set up the pattern and the control functions on each machine.

A first step on the path to achieving "needle by needle" selection was the development of the PAJ machine, which introduced individual needle jacquard selection, achieved by the use of steel cards mounted on either one or two rotating prisms, located underneath the needlebeds, which activated each needle via long selecting platines protruding from the beds. Then, in 1970, one of the most important patents in Protti's history was taken out: this dealt with the "needle by needle" electronic control system (Patent No. 900921 of 25/07/70: "Electronic/mechanical apparatus for the selection of the needles in a flat knitting machine, in order to achieve the knitting of jacquard fabrics"), which put the company right at the forefront of technological achievement in the knitting machine sector and led to the development of a new and revolutionary range of machines: the PDE series.
This was the first flat knitting machine with electronic programming for individual needle selection to be presented on the world market. It made its triumphal debut at the 1971 ITMA Exhibition in Paris and attracted the attention of the whole of that market to PROTTI. It is no exaggeration to say that this new machine series may be considered as the forerunner of all electronic flat knitting machines, right up to those of the latest generation: for the first time ever, the selection of individual needles was being achieved by electronic means. Now, jacquard patterns could be produced simply and easily, without the need for expensive and complex steel cards, just by laying out the patterns required on an electronic blackboard; this was a special plate with a matrix of holes corresponding to the 96 needles in width and 128 courses in height that constituted the pattern area. By inserting special pins into these holes, patterns could be laid out that were then knitted on the machine. The PDE had a bed width of 183 cm and was available in gauges 7 and 10. Later versions represented the technical refinement and continual evolution of this machine range: the blackboard was replaced by a "pattern scanning unit" (optional), to record the pattern. This consisted of a drum, carrying a sheet of squared paper on which the pattern was drawn, which rotated to allow the pattern to be read by an optical scanner. Development continued with the models PDE2, PDE3 (intended for the production of carpets and blankets), PDE5, PDE6 (which represented a further evolutionary step in the introduction of a monitor and graphics panel to replace the scanning unit) and the PDE7 (which allowed the production of shaped pieces, by the use of the stitch holddown or stitch presser device, "DSP").

The P90 machine

THE OTHER FULL JACQUARD MACHINES the P90 and P94 series and the evolving programming systems
The way was now open for the production of machines with individual needle selection. Evolving directly from the PDE5 and PDE7 models, a very successful range of full-jacquard machines was developed, one of which, the P90, was one of the first examples of a type, which, in its concept and technical characteristics, was most similar to the flat knitting machines of today.

In effect, the P90 series represented the first generation of machines that was completely computer controlled and it was therefore truly revolutionary in its structural technology, while still retaining the knitting characteristics that had been derived in part from the machines of the PDE series. The double-system P90 had a needlebed width of 230 cm and was equipped with special needles for stitch transfer and narrowing; with single-butt platines and with auxiliary platines for individual needle selection. The P90S version was fitted with a stitch presser device (DSP), for the production of shaped pieces and the knitting of special stitch effects. In its P90G variant, the machine was provided with a set of special intarsia yarnfeeders. All machines in the P90 range were available in the coarse gauges of 2, 2½, 3, 3½ and 4, and from 5 to 12 gauge. The four-system version was the P94, which had features identical to those of the P90, (except for the number of systems and the provision of two carriages). All the full-jacquard machines were equipped with an electronic programming unit, with a 512 Kb memory and 5¼" floppy disks. Connected directly to the machine, this allowed programming to be carried out even when the machine was running. On request, a separate programming unit was available, the PTV90, to allow patterns and fabrics to be prepared away from the machine: this consisted of a minicomputer, keyboard, graphics tablet, floppy disk drive and printer.

the full jacquard machines
With the PV series of full-jacquard, completely electronically controlled machines with variable stroke, we have arrived at the latest step in the evolutionary process at Protti that has spanned more than 40 years. The advent of the variable stroke of the carriage, which automatically amends the width of its traverse, not only according to the width of the knitted piece, but also to take account of the number of systems in operation and of the number of needles that are knitting or transferring on each individual course, represents yet another revolution in knitting technology. This is a very important feature that is simple in its concept, but which was not previously possible to attain, when mechanical commands to the cams and other functions had to be transmitted to the carriage via bolts mounted at the very ends of the needlebeds. With the changeover to electronic control, it was no longer necessary for the carriage to travel right out to the ends to receive its commands, thus making it possible to cut out the inoperative sections of its traverse. Along with the PV Series, a programming system has also been developed: the PTV234 is a centralised autonomous unit for the programming of all the machines in this series, backed up by some innovative software, the "PROTEOS Knitting System", for the advanced programming of patterns and fabrics. Soon, the other prestigious models of the PV Series were put into production: the PV93S (110 cm bed, equipped with stitch pressers), the PV93 (240 cm bed) and the other wide- and narrow-bed machines that remained in production: PV92SX, PV93SX (both with 110 cm beds), PV94E, PV94X, PV96X (240 cm beds), up to the recent PV93FX (110 cm, supplementary needlebed and set-up combs), PV91X, and PV91X-3 (240 cm), the latter being equipped with three carriages.

THE PT SERIES The trimming and semi-jacquard machines

The PT22 machine

The P100 machine

The P400 machine

In parallel with the development of the full-jacquard machines, the evolution of machines for straight fabrics, for trimmings and for semi-jacquards has never stopped. This series of machines derives directly from the technical trials that started with the development of the models P457 and PT4. When considering flat knitting machines of the latest generation, one normally thinks just of the full-jacquard models with individual needle selection and very often forgets that there is a great demand for simpler machines, using a selection system based on auxiliary platines with various heights of butt. It might be tempting to ignore this range of machines, on which selection is made by groups of needles, but they are, in fact, most sophisticated models, equipped with full computer control and variable stroke.

The PT11, with 203 cm beds, was a single-system machine with high- and low-butt needles, built in gauges from 5 to 18, without stitch transfer. The PT21 offered the possibility of double transfer from either high- or low-butt needles, or both, and the PT22 was also built as a double-system. From these two models, we moved quite quickly to the current ones: the PT222 (and, before that, the PT221) and the semi-jacquards PT241 and PT242. These are very reliable, efficient and high-producing machines, based on a technology that is supported by 40 years of experience and continual development, to offer the best results at all times.

the P500 series
At the same time as the full-jacquard machines, a third type of machine was developed that has been particularly popular and successful in the market: the rib-loading machine to supply Cotton frames, which started with the P100.

This is a series of electronically programmed machines for the production of ribs and cuffs and their automatic loading onto the magazine bars of the Cotton frame. The loading of these ribs and cuffs directly onto the magazine bars, in predetermined numbers and in the exact position required, offers, on the one hand, precise and accurate running-on and significant savings in the costs of labour, of yarn and of intermediate magazine bars and, on the other, very high production rates, due to the variable carriage stroke, which adapts itself to the width of the piece to be produced. Later versions included the P200, (which had the advantage of being able to automatically exchange the full magazine bar for an empty one, without interrupting production and which was also produced in the P200 2- version for the simultaneous production of two cuffs and, as the P200 2D, with doublings), the P300 and the P400, (in its two versions: P401 being the standard model and P401D the one with doublings),

all leading up to the current model, the P500, in its 4 versions: P500, the standard version, with high and low butt needle selection, used principally for the production of ribs, cuffs and trims, which are automatically loaded onto the magazine bars of Cotton frames or linking machines; P500S, the version that enables selections to be made on four auxiliary platines, located on the needlebed, thereby giving the capability of producing a large number of pattern effects, (cables, lace, small jacquards), to enhance and embellish the finished garment; P500D, the standard version with a doubling device that enables stitches to be doubled at intervals, thus making ribs more elastic and, at the same time, eliminating any creasing; P500SD, which is provided with both the auxiliary platines and the doubling device.

Over the years, technological development has proceeded inexorably, bringing Protti to its present position as a world leader in the production of the P500 rib loading machines and of the PT series trimming machines, as well as putting it amongst the first rank of producers of full jacquard machines with individual needle selection. The high rate of technological innovation is backed up by an extremely efficient commercial organisation and an ever more sophisticated and innovative after-sales service, that constantly provoke the interest of the marketplace, (both customers and competitors). Among the latest models to be shown at the most important international exhibitions for the trade are: the PV96X, a six-system machine; the PV93FX, with three needlebeds, (the only machine in the world to feature this characteristic) and the most recent of all: the PV91X (single-system machine with auxiliary takedown) and the PV91X-3 (three carriages, each with a single system).