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History of Sewing Machine Needles Part 1 of 2

Too small to notice, too big to ignore!

Do you know..?

  • Modern sewing machines runs at 10,000 stitches per minute?
  • The needle touches a temperature of 300 degrees C within seconds of start-up?
  • Thread goes back and forth more than 30 times for a single stitch?
  • There are 1,000s of types of needles for sewing woven, knit, embroidery, leather,
  • bag sewing and so forth?
  • There are less than 3 or 4 companies in the world who can make entire range of needles?

Sewing machine needles are micron-specific and its manufacture requires special purpose machines. There are more than 150 steps in manufacturing a single needle. A good quality needle is a must for aesthetic finish of sewn product as well as productivity. Schiffli embroidery machines, for example, need more than 1,000 needles to be fitted at a time. Needles for leather sewing have wide range of point styles.

We are delighted to bring you the story of Sewing Machine needles and the role we played to make India the capital of the world in needle manufacture.

1850 – Sewing machine invented

The story of sewing machine needles began in 1850’s when legendary Isaac Singer and Elias Howe discovered the sewing machine. They fought a bitter battle in the court over patent rights. Singer lost!

But, Singer’s commercial instincts prevailed. He bought the patent rights from Elias Howe, improved on the machine and pioneered the concept of installment sales. Sales of machines skyrocketed.

1860 – LeoLammertz and Stephan Beissel invent sewing machine needle

The world’s capital of hand sewing needles was Reddich in England. (There is a wonderful Needle museum in Reddich capturing the innovations over centuries in hand sewing machine needles. Please click to read blog on visit to the museum (

The first to spot the opportunity for sewing machine needles were inventors Mr.LeoLammertz and Mr Stephan Beissel, both in Aachen, Germany.

They brought dramatic technological improvements in Die Pressing, Pointing, Grooving, special machines for these operations, quality and high productivity.

Beissel started in 13th Oct 1853 and Mr LeoLammertz set up a sewing machine needle plant on 1st October 1861. By 1911, Lammertz had grown to 15,000 employees. Beissel’s growth was as dramatic. Names like Schmetz and Singer started sewing machine needle factories in Germany in 1922.

The second world war did substantial damage to the needle factories. The Aachen region, bordering Belgium and Netherlands, was the theater in which horrific battles were fought when allied forces entered Northern Germany in 1944. Aachen suffered huge damages. Lammertz’s factory as among many factories which were destroyed.

After the war, the factories were re-built and Sewing machine needle brands such as Lammertz, Rhein, Beka, Muva, Schmetz, Singer etc., became household names across the world.

But, soon these companies became victims of Germany’s success. With the rising post-war prosperity, cost of production rose. German Deutsche Mark appreciated. European garment factories moved to Asia and they demanded lower prices.

All this led to German needle companies accumulating losses from the 1990. They started scouring Asia for low cost locations.

1996- Altek brings Sewing Machine Needle technology to India

This is when we entered the picture. We were the catalyst in moving the entire needle industry to India and make India the center of the needle world.


(Please await the next email to read the exciting story of how India now owns the German technology.)

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