CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sewing technology moved several stitches forward with the introduction of a new development by Tice Engineering & Sales at this year’s Bobbin show in Atlanta. The Tice JL5000 automatic double-needle belt-loop machine, which is computer controlled with no mechanical linkage between the bobbin and the needle, drew a large share of attention from the sewn products industry. The unit is extraordinary because it functions without 90 percent of the moving parts found on standard sewing machines.
Bill Tice, company owner, made the new development sound easy. “We were fortunate enough to eliminate all of the mechanical linkage required to make a needle move up and down and a bobbin go round and round,” he said.
Tice said the company was overwhelmed by the response from apparel makers and sewing machine manufacturers. “It opens so many doors. Machines can be changed and made much smaller and lighter, with less moving parts, heat, power consumption, and oiling problems — and with higher speeds and better control.”
The modular concept can be applied to almost any sewing machine, according to Tice. “We’re working on a buttonhole machine for shirts, sewing five to seven buttonholes simultaneously. Instead of sewing one buttonhole and then indexing up and sewing the second one, etc., there will be multiple heads and they will sew all of the buttonholes at one time. Obviously, we can also do that for buttons, sewing them all on at one time,” he explained.
Several large manufacturers asked Tice Engineering to build some machines for them, Tice pointed out. One customer wanted 500 zigzag machines; two other customers expressed interest in almost 1,000 end-seam-felling machines.
However, Tice told DNR, the small Knoxville, Tenn.-based company may have to license the invention to other machinery manufacturers if the demand is too heavy. “We can handle the number of machines we’ve talked about so far. But if many people want more different types of machines, we’re not geared up for that. Some sewing machine manufacturers have asked us about licensing, and I very quickly told them we would definitely be interested in licensing.”

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