Gaimersheim – Christoph Liebers has developed a new ‘golden’ platen technology, which he says offers a range of environmental advantages over standard platen types when used on knitting machines. Patented ‘nano’ platinum technology was designed to dramatically reduce friction levels, resulting in less wear, less energy consumption and longer life for key knitting elements.
The new gold lead pellets were developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institut, the highly respected research institute based in Germany. Together with the institute, Christoph Liebers focused on the surface of the sinkers, the main problem being that the inherent smoothness meant that no oil was permanently left on the sinker. On the contrary, the protective oil film continuously decreases which, conversely, allows the level of friction to increase over time. Tests have shown that the adhesion gradient increases significantly within a few hours, resulting in wear and tear of the knitting elements.
With the new gold pellets, Christoph Liebers says the cracked surface now has microscopic cavities built into the nanoscale that allow the oil film to spread over the surface and stay there longer. With this latest generation of plates, the structured surface is characterized by a multitude of tiny inclusions, a fraction of a millimeter wide. The oil is now contained in these microscopic cavities, which is extremely important for the lubrication of knitting machines.
These irregularities, undetectable to the untrained eye but nevertheless intentional, just like the small cells, keep the lubricating film homogeneous. Each lubricating film, which protects the plates, cracks at a certain temperature. Michael Starke, responsible for the new surface structure, explains: “Due to a lack of oil on large parts of the platen surfaces, there is much more friction than with the new ‘nanos’. “
In addition to operating at a lower temperature, the reduced wear and tear of using “nanos” offers a number of other benefits. Energy consumption is reduced with reduced friction and the “nanos” have a longer lifespan. In addition, reduced friction produces less abrasion, which normally pollutes machines and knitwear.
It is important to note that all of these claims are supported by a series of certified tests from the renowned Fraunhofer Institut für Schicht- und Oberflächentechnik (Fraunhofer Institute for Layer and Surface Technology) in Braunschweig. There at the Center for Tribological Layers – New Coatings and Systems, tests have shown that by using oscillating friction probes, the force exerted on the platen surface in a knitting machine during production is alleviated.
In the test assembly, a test body, the area of which corresponds to that of the ballast, was moved back and forth over a similar steel test body, with a vertical force and a frequency that are current in production. The result: on traditional ballast, the oil film split after about five minutes, the friction value then showing a constant upward trend. For the “nanos,” however, the oil film remained constant even after an hour and a half of testing. After the time elapsed, the test showed a steadily decreasing trend in the friction value. Researchers’ conclusion: the surfaces of the “nanos” “reveal significant differences in the value of friction and the danger of wear”.
For Michael Starke, this new development also opens up completely new cooperation and partnership opportunities in other knitting sectors: “We can easily imagine using the structured surface with high-end producers,” he said. “If both sides capitalize on the ‘nanos’ surfaces, then the benefits of its use will be stronger. This means even less wear, energy consumption and abrasion, and even lower temperatures. service life of knitting elements and careful use in knitting machines.
“If manufacturers of knitting machines want to reap the benefits of nano development, then in the future they will look to Gaimersheim. The market is located near the Audi metropolis of Ingolstadt. It remains to be seen whether the slogan, “The pellets are silver, but the nano is gold!” Will have the same impact as the advertising slogan known to all who come from the same place: “Vorsprung durch Technik!”