Parts of Circular Knitting Machine and Their Function

Circular knitting machines are pivotal in the textile industry, known for their efficiency in producing seamless tubular fabrics. These machines come in various sizes and configurations, tailored to different fabric types and production scales. Understanding the essential parts of a circular knitting machine and their functions is crucial for operating, maintaining, and optimizing these machines for various textile applications. This article will delve into the primary components of a circular knitting machine and elucidate their roles in the knitting process.

Introduction to Circular Knitting Machines

Circular knitting machines are designed to produce fabrics in a cylindrical form, making them ideal for creating garments such as socks, sleeves, and body garments without seams. These machines can be divided into single jersey and double jersey types, with each type having specific components tailored to its knitting requirements. The following sections will explore the primary parts of these machines and their respective functions.

Circular Knitting Machine specification

Circular knitting machine specifications can vary depending on the model, manufacturer, and intended use. However, some key specifications to consider include:

Machine Type:

  • Single Jersey: Produces plain knit fabric, often used for t-shirts and underwear.
  • Rib: Creates ribbed fabrics with alternating raised and lowered loops, commonly used for cuffs and socks.
  • Double Jersey: Produces thicker, two-faced fabric often used for sportswear.
  • Jacquard: Utilizes electronically controlled needles for intricate patterns and designs.


  • Diameter: Determines the maximum fabric width the machine can produce. Common diameters range from 16 inches (40 cm) to 40 inches (100 cm).
  • Gauge: Refers to the number of needles per inch (or centimeter) around the cylinder. Higher gauge indicates finer, thinner fabrics, while lower gauge produces thicker, heavier fabrics. Common gauges range from 3 gauge (very bulky) to 32 gauge (very fine).

Feeding System:

  • Number of Feeders: Determines how many different yarns the machine can handle simultaneously. This allows for creating striped or multicolored fabrics.
  • Yarn Feed Type: Can be manual or automatic. Automatic feeders ensure consistent yarn tension for better fabric quality.


  • Production Speed: Measured in meters per minute (mpm) and indicates how quickly the machine can produce fabric.
  • RPM (Revolutions Per Minute): Refers to the rotational speed of the cylinder.

Control System:

  • Mechanical: Relies on cams and levers to control needle movement.
  • Electronic: Utilizes computer controls for greater precision and flexibility in stitch patterns, yarn tension, and machine speed.

Additional Specifications:

  • Power Consumption: Indicates the amount of electricity the machine requires to operate.
  • Weight: Important for considering floor space requirements and potential reinforcement needs.
  • Take-up System: The mechanism that collects and winds the finished fabric.

Key Parts of a Circular Knitting Machine

Circular knitting machines are the workhorses of the textile industry, churning out endless loops of fabric for everything from socks to t-shirts. But behind the seemingly simple process lies a complex interplay of parts, each with a vital role to play. Today, we’ll embark on a journey to explore the inner workings of a circular knitting machine and understand the functions of its key components.

  1. Needle Cylinder
  2. Needles
  3. Cams
  4. Yarn Feeders
  5. Take-Down Mechanism
  6. Fabric Spreaders
  7. Sinkers: Supporting the Loops
  8. Tensioners: Maintaining Control
  9. Tensioners: Maintaining Control
  10. The Cam System: Orchestrating the Dance
  11. The Electronic Control System: The Modern Maestro

1. The Heart of the Machine: The Cylinder

Imagine a giant metal drum – that’s the cylinder, the heart of a circular knitting machine. This powerhouse holds the needle bed, where the magic of knitting happens. The cylinder rotates, carrying the needles and other components through the knitting cycle.

2. Needle Cylinder

Function: The needle cylinder is a central component of the machine, housing the knitting needles in slots around its circumference. It rotates during the knitting process, allowing the needles to knit the fabric in a circular motion.

3. Needles

Function: The needles are the core elements that form the loops in the knitting process. There are various types of needles, such as latch needles, spring needles, and compound needles, each suitable for different fabric types and knitting techniques.

4. Sinkers

Function: Sinkers are thin metal plates that assist in forming the loops by holding down the fabric while the needles rise and fall. They play a crucial role in determining the fabric’s texture and density.

5. Cams

Function: Cams are the driving force behind the needle movement. They are arranged in a cam track that controls the up and down motion of the needles, thereby facilitating the loop formation process. Different cam configurations can produce various knitting patterns and stitch structures.

6. Yarn Feeders

Function: Yarn feeders guide the yarn from the bobbins to the needles. They ensure a consistent supply of yarn, maintaining even tension and feeding rate, which is essential for producing uniform fabric.

7. Take-Down Mechanism

Function: The take-down mechanism pulls the newly knitted fabric away from the needles, maintaining tension and allowing continuous knitting. It consists of rollers or belts that guide the fabric downward, preventing it from bunching up around the needle cylinder.

8. Fabric Spreaders

Function: Fabric spreaders help in maintaining the width and shape of the tubular fabric as it is being knitted. They ensure the fabric is evenly distributed and prevents it from collapsing, which is crucial for producing consistent, high-quality fabric.

9. Sinkers: Supporting the Loops

Think of sinkers as tiny metal plates that play a crucial role in loop formation. They hold the yarn in place behind the needles, allowing the needles to manipulate it and create new loops. Without sinkers, the knitting process wouldn’t be possible.

10.Tensioners: Maintaining Control

Just like the right amount of pressure is needed when writing, maintaining proper yarn tension is essential in knitting. Tensioners ensure the yarn is fed with the correct amount of tautness, preventing loose or uneven stitches

11. The Cam System: Orchestrating the Dance

The cam system is the brain behind the operation. It consists of a series of cams that control the movement of the needles and sinkers throughout the knitting cycle. The precise timing and movement dictated by the cams are what ultimately determine the type of stitch being formed.

12.The Electronic Control System: The Modern Maestro

Modern circular knitting machines are often equipped with electronic control systems. These systems allow for precise control over various factors like machine speed, stitch type, and yarn tension, leading to greater efficiency and consistency in production.

Function: The control panel is the interface through which the operator sets and monitors the machine’s parameters, such as knitting speed, pattern selection, and yarn tension. Advanced machines feature computerized control panels for precise adjustments and automation.

Circular knitting machines are the backbone of the clothing industry, churning out vast quantities of fabric for everything from socks and t-shirts to hats and leggings. But what makes them so popular? Let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of these remarkable machines.


  • High-Speed Production: Circular machines reign supreme in terms of speed. Their continuous knitting process allows for rapid fabric creation, making them ideal for mass production.
  • Seamless Garments: Unlike flatbed knitting machines that require separate pieces to be sewn together, circular machines can produce seamless garments. This eliminates seams, creating a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing product.
  • Versatility in Fabrics and Patterns: Circular machines can handle a wide range of yarns and stitch patterns. By adjusting needles and settings, manufacturers can create fabrics with varying textures and thicknesses, from lightweight jerseys to heavier ribbed knits.
  • Reduced Waste: The continuous knitting process minimizes yarn waste compared to flatbed machines that require fabric cutting and piecing together.
  • Automated Processes: Modern circular machines often incorporate electronic controls, allowing for precise control over stitch formation, yarn tension, and machine speed. This automation improves consistency and reduces human error.


  • Limited Design Complexity: While circular machines offer a good range of stitch patterns, they may struggle with highly intricate designs often achievable on flatbed machines.
  • Higher Initial Investment: Circular machines can be significantly more expensive to purchase compared to flatbed machines. This can be a barrier for small-scale producers.
  • Limited Fabric Size: The diameter of the machine’s cylinder restricts the width of the fabric it can produce. Larger garments may require additional cutting and sewing steps.
  • Yarn Consumption: Circular knitting can sometimes use more yarn compared to flatbed knitting due to the continuous knitting process. This can impact material costs.
  • Learning Curve: Operating a circular knitting machine requires specialized training and knowledge. Mastering the intricacies of these machines can take time and practice.


Understanding the parts of a circular knitting machine and their functions is essential for anyone involved in the textile manufacturing industry. Each component, from the needle cylinder to the control panel, plays a vital role in ensuring the efficient and smooth operation of the machine. By comprehending these elements, operators can better maintain the machine, troubleshoot issues, and optimize production for high-quality textile outputs. Whether for small-scale operations or large industrial productions, the knowledge of these fundamental parts is key to mastering the art of circular knitting.

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