Although flatbed-knitting requires relatively expensive machinery when compared to sewing and embroidery, we did notice its advent in DIY and maker domains, as it provides a powerful means to accurately design and create functional devices from numerous source materials, which can be precisely combined on a loop-level. Modern knitting techniques enable the creation of intricate textile objects, such as 3D-knits, which opens many new opportunities for industrial design, healthcare and monitoring, and specialized clothing, e.g., for protective gear or even space-travel. Flatbed-knitting is therefore sometimes nicknamed “3D-printing for textiles”.
The machines are highly specialized industrial robots which are controlled by software that is specifically tailored to the requirements of the textile industry, i.e., for mass-production. Both hardware and software are highly optimized and require extensive knowledge and training. There is a point to this, as knitting programs are usually puzzled out by expert knitting technicians and, once finished, applied to create a multitude of identical pieces. Furthermore, knitting practice requires in-depth experience with the textile materials in use, which involves frequent trial-and-error steps throughout this learning process. Also, user interfaces are inherently complex to operate for novices and documentation and tuturials are hardly available.
This poses a considerable barrier to beginners, where the workflow calls for frequent adaptions and fast modification and iteration.