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The Different Types of Sewing Machine Feed Mechanisms

Steve Park differential feed mechanism drop feed mechanism feed mechanism needle feed mechanism puller feed mechanism walking foot mechanism

Aside from classifications according to stitch type capabilities and body design, sewing machines can also be categorized according to the kind of feed mechanism that they use.

Feed mechanism is defined as the process by which the fabric is moved forward in the feeding zone of the sewing machine. Basically, it refers to how the needles, bobbins, loopers, auxiliary feed mechanism parts, and the fabric being sewn itself moves. The feed mechanism is important because advancing the fabric is the only way for the needle to be able to engage the next portion of the material being stitched.

Some industrial sewing machines only have a single type of feed mechanism, while others have multiple feed capabilities. Needless to say, machines that can stitch using several types of feed mechanisms often cost more.

The most common types of sewing machine feed mechanisms are as follows:

Drop feed mechanism – The drop feed mechanism is commonly found in domestic sewing machines and a majority of industrial sewing machines. Also known as regular feed mechanism, the drop feed mechanism involves the movement of serrated metal strips known as feed dogs, which are found in slots in a sewing machine’s

needle plate. As the needle is retracted from the fabric, the feed dogs underneath drag the fabric or material horizontally in order to move the workpiece.

Differential feed mechanism – Sewing machines that use a differential feed mechanism have two independent sets of feed dogs. These feeds dogs can be manipulated so that the material or fabric around the needle can be stretched or compressed as needed.

Needle feed mechanism – Many industrial sewing machines, especially those that use double needles, use the needle feed mechanism. They rely on the needle itself to act as the primary feeding element that moves or advances the fabric through the feeding zone.

Walking foot mechanism – Machines that use the walking foot mechanism swaps a regular immobile presser foot with a moving walking foot that actively works to move the material being sewn. It usually works in conjunction with other types of feed mechanisms.

The walking foot mechanism makes it easier to sew weighty fabrics and other heavy materials like leather, as well as cushioned workpieces like quilts or bedding materials. The walking foot mechanism is also useful when sewing multi-layered materials, which can be challenging to sew with a stationary presser foot because of the possibility of the layers accidentally shifting from their position as they are being stitched.

Puller feed mechanism – Sewing machines with a puller feed mechanism use supporting rollers that grip and pull the fabric or material being sewn. It is useful for sewing large and heavy workpieces like leather upholstery, tents, and car covers.

If you would like to learn more about the different types of feed mechanisms found in industrial sewing machines, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts at ABC Sewing Machine. We can be reached toll-free by phone at (213) 444-9249 or (213) 747-9555. You can also come visit us at 2100 South Main Street in Los Angeles, California.



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