Last week, the FH studio welcomed a new member to the fleet of industrial machines already stationed at 310 N. 11th St. R.E.Load already uses six Consew walking foot machines, as well as two Singer zig zag machines. We use zig zag for executing the custom applique on messenger bags, and the Consew machines are for stitching all those layers of tough cordura and vinyl together into the bag itself. These machines are unlike home machines in that they are incredibly powerful, which takes some getting used to, to say the least. When home stitchers first start using the industrial machines it is a great challenge to stitch a straight line let alone more difficult curved maneuvers or thick spots. Walking foots are great for pulling fabric in, but their force has to be corralled and harnessed so that this doesn't result in crazy bumps in stitch lines or worse, a lost finger. Once we've tamed these wild beasts, its actually difficult to use the domesticated home machines we all learned on. The power and speed they supply are necessary in our construction of the bags, but R.E.Load stitchers will tell you, in all applications, once you go industrial, you never go back.
The most recent Fabric Horse acquisition is also a Consew walking foot machine, but uses an electric Servo motor, instead of the standard clutch motor. The standard clutch motor shares more than linguistic qualities with cars. They feel like driving a big rig, forward pedal for gas and heel pressure for brake; they really should require a license.
The new machine's motor is still engaged using a pedal, but the speed is mostly controlled by a dial on the motor itself. I can't say I can explain the mechanical differences between the two, but this difference is crucial for several reasons. Primarily, the electric motor uses 40% less energy than its clutch counterpart, which is the number one reason we decided to try out the new setup. Equally beneficial is the fact that the electric machine is much much quieter than our other machines. Our other industrial machines sound more like automobiles than appliances, which was a concern to our landlords when we moved into our space on 11th Street. Even between stitches, the clutch motor machines emit a most certainly audible whir that makes for quite the obnoxious white noise, take my word.
Our new little lady is SILENT when not actually stitching, which is remarkable by our account. We are still getting used to the particulars, but this new, lower energy machine is exciting for us and if all goes well, we may see more of these motors in our shop in coming months. If you'd like more info about the science here, I can only direct you here.
Thanks to our local machine shop, Keystone for putting us in touch with this savvy little gal. Fun Fact: the technology in these little motors is also used to make robots!