The moment the first glove came down the chute of his fully automatic glove knitting machine, Masahiro Shima had a revelation. He imagined the middle three fingers combined to form the body while the thumb and little finger became sleeves, and voilà a pullover is formed. Based on this discovery he was inspired to one day develop a machine that could knit an entire garment in one piece.
30 years later the world's first WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine was invented, making its debut at the ITMA trade fair in 1995, where it was proclaimed "The Magic of the Orient."
Continuous development over the next quarter-century was based on SHIMA SEIKI's dedication to its customers' needs, and the subsequent pursuit to eliminate waste—while nobody realized it at the time—led to sustainable manufacturing. Meanwhile the invention of SHIMA SEIKI's own SlideNeedle became essential to its commitment to quality through all-needle knitting using 4 needle beds.
Here we present a historical overview of WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines spanning 5 Generations, highlighting significant technological advancements for each.