Raschel machines (Figures A and B) originally had a gauge expressed in needles per 2 inches (5 cm), so that, for example, a 36-gauge raschel would have eighteen needles per inch. Now, the standard E gauge (needles per inch) is generally used. There is a wide gauge range, from E 1 to E 32.
Their chain links are usually numbered in even numbers, 0, 2, 4, 6 etc., generally with two links per course. Raschel sinkers perform only the function of holding down the loops whilst the needles rise.They are not joined together by a lead across their ends nearest to the needle bar so they can move away clear of the needles, towards the back of the machine, for the rest of the knitting cycle.The needle trick plate verge acts as a fabric support ledge and knock-over surface.
The fabric is drawn downwards from the needles, almost parallel to the needle bar, at an angle of 120–160 degrees, by a series of take-down rollers. This creates a high take-up tension, particularly suitable for open fabric structures such as laces and nets.
|Fig. A. Knitting elements in a latch needle raschel machine|
|Fig. B. Cross-section of a latch needle raschel machine|
With the raschel arrangement, there is accommodation for at least four 32-inch diameter beams or large numbers of small diameter pattern bars. The accessibility of the raschel machine, its simple knitting action, and its strong and efficient take-down tension make it particularly suitable for the production of coarse gauge open-work structures employing pillar stitch, inlay lapping variations and partlythreaded guide bars. These are difficult to knit and hold down with the tricot arrangement of sinkers. Additional warp threads may be supplied at the selvedges to ensure that these needles knit fabric overlaps, otherwise a progressive press-off of loops may occur.