Textile and Light Machine Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Textile and Light Machine Building


a specialized branch of machine building that manufactures equipment and spare parts for light industry, the chemical fiber industry, and personal services enterprises. Textile and light machine building manufactures production lines for cotton ginning; integrated, automated equipment for spinning and weaving; production lines and aggregates for dyeing and finishing; spinning frames; regular and shuttleless looms; circular knitting machines; and semiautomatic lines for footwear production. Approximately 70 percent of the equipment in light industry is used in the textile industry.

The production of textile machines in Russia began in 1823 at the Aleksandrov Manufactory in St. Petersburg. Domestic textile and light machine building did not play a large part in the technological development of the textile industry; mill owners primarily imported equipment from Great Britain. The small plants built in Moscow, Ivanovo, and Shuia in the 1880’s and 1890’s manufactured simple looms and a few types of machines for spinning mills and dyeing factories.

Textile and light machine building began developing in the USSR in the mid-1920’s. Several plants in Leningrad, Kiev, Moscow, Tula, and Ivanovo were put to work producing textile machines. The first design bureau for textile machine building was set up under the organization Metallosindikat; the production of carding machines, roving frames, and automatic looms based on the bureau’s designs was begun in 1925 and 1926. The Central Design Bureau of Light Machine Building was organized in 1932; it was later reorganized as the first research institute of the industry. During the first prewar five-year plans (1929–40), major combines were built in Tashkent, Barnaul, Leninakan, Kurovskoe, Smolensk, and Orsha. Approximately 400 types of textile equipment were produced, including 24,000 automatic looms and 5,700 spinning frames. Development also began on equipment for the production of chemical fibers.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–15, production in textile and light machine building was temporarily halted, and the industry’s plants started producing mortars and ammunition. After the war the enterprises returned to nonmilitary production. During the fourth five-year plan (1946–50) the production of machinery for the textile and light industries was four times the volume of prewar production. Major centers of textile machine building were organized in Penza, Tashkent, and Orel.

In conformity with a decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR entitled Concerning Steps Toward the Further Improvement of the Textile Industry (published Dec. 10, 1959), 69 plants were refurbished and the Orel (Khimtekstil’mash) and Cheboksary machine-building plants were constructed. Equipment for the manufacture of non-woven materials went into production, and the manufacture of dyeing and finishing and knitwear equipment was expanded. Several new industry institutes were also founded: a scientific research and experimental design institute of spinning frames in Penza, a scientific research and experimental design institute of machine building in Ivanovo, a scientific research institute of light machine building in Orel, and a scientific research institute of machinery for the production of synthetic fibers in Chernigov.

The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR published a decree on Dec. 8,1972, entitled On Increasing the Production of Modern Machinery for Enterprises of the Light and Food-processing Industries, Trade, the Food Service Industry, and Personal Services. Thereafter, capital investments for the modernization of major textile and light machine-building plants increased significantly, and construction was begun in Brest on a new plant for the manufacture of precision assemblies for textile machines. In 1975 the sector had approximately 90 plants employing a total of 150,000 manual and office workers directly involved in the production process. The sector’s production capacities were used to produce up to 1.6 million unitized spinning spindles and 31,200 looms per year (including 18,200 shuttleless and pneumatic rapier looms).

Specialized associations were organized to produce equipment for cotton ginning (the Soiuzkhlopkomash Association, with its main plant in Tashkent), dyeing and finishing equipment (the Soiuztekstil’otdelmash Association, with its main plant in Ivanovo), equipment for the manufacture of leather footwear (the Goskozhobuv’mash Association, with its main plant in Orel), and spinning-and-twisting and roving frames (the Uzbektekstil’-mash Association, with its main plant in Tashkent). The Leningrad Machine-building Association for Equipment to Produce Chemical Fibers and Knitwear was also established at this time.

The process of specialization was completed at many plants. For example, the Penza Machine-building Plant produces ring spinning frames and pneumatic-mechanical machines for cotton fabrics, the Kostroma Textile Machine-building Plant makes spinning frames for wool and flax, the Klimovsk Machine-building Plant (with a branch in the settlement of Tovarkovo) makes the ATPR shuttleless looms for cotton, the Cheboksary Machine-building Plant produces shuttleless looms for wool and cotton, the Podol’sk Kalinin Machine Plant makes industrial sewing machines, the Shuia Machine-building Plant produces looms for industrial fabrics, the Orsha Light Machine-building Plant makes

Table 2. USSR production of equipment for light industry and the manufacture of chemical fibers
 Production volume (million rubles)1Percent increaseAverage annual growth rate (percent)Percent increaseAverage annual growth rate (percent)
1Enterprises’ wholesale prices as of July 1,1967
Equipment and spare parts for light industry ...............281430691152.98.85160.69.95
for the textile industry ...............180265476147.58.1179.712.4
for the knitwear industry ...............19.536.043.7184.813.05121.13.9
for dyeing and finishing ...............18.529.236.1157.69.5123.94.35
for cotton ginning ...............17.323.929.0138.06.65121.53.95
for the clothing industry ...............28.747.970.6167.110.8147.38.05
for the leather and footwear, fur and small leather goods industries ...............13824529.2177.312.1511.933.60
Equipment and spare parts for the production of chemical fibers ...............51.969.395.1133.45.95137.36.55

industrial sewing machines and flat knitwear machines, and the Orel Textile Machine-building Plant produces unitized equipment for flax.

Textile and light machine-building plants produce 1,700 types of machinery. The designs of production equipment are being constantly improved. During the period 1970–75, new products constituted 49 percent of the total line offered and 65 percent of production volume.

Growth in the production of basic equipment is shown in Tables 1 and 2 on page 547. In 1975,9.5 percent of the light industry equipment produced was exported.

The level of mechanization and automation of production processes at plants in 1975 was approximately 70 percent; approximately 65 percent of workers were engaged in mechanized labor; and automatic, semiautomatic, special, and aggregate machines accounted for 16 percent of all machinery. During the ninth five-year plan labor productivity rose 44 percent.

Textile and light machine building has also developed extensively in the foreign socialist countries (see Table 3).

The German Democratic Republic produces combing, circular knitting, warp knitting, and knitwear machines; Mali machines for manufacturing nonwoven materials; and machines to produce rugs. Czechoslovakia produces shuttleless looms (hydraulic and pneumatic), pneumatic-mechanical spinning machines (developed jointly with the USSR), knitwear equipment, automatic warp-winders, certain types of dyeing and finishing equipment, and equipment for the leather and footwear industry. Poland produces spinning equipment for the wool industry (cards and spinning frames). Because the equipment produced by the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) uses the latest technology, it finds a ready export market in many countries of the world.

More than 90 percent of all textile and light machine-building production in the developed capitalist countries is concentrated in seven countries: the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), USA, Japan, Great Britain, Switzerland, France, and Italy. In 1973 production volume was approximately $1.6 billion in the FRG, $820 million in Japan, $785 million in the USA, and $650 million in Switzerland.

Table 3. Production of spinning and weaving equipment in selected COMECON member countries
 Spinning framesLooms
Bulgaria ...............8334000176
Czechoslovakia ...............929218,0007,015
German Democratic Republic ...............395158,0002,120
Hungary ...............22416,300
Poland ...............500185,0002,273
Rumania ...............326133,0003,241

Firms in the FRG specialize primarily in the production of knitwear equipment (Karl Mayer and Mayer and Cie), spinning equipment (Zinser and Schubert and Salzer), and preparation and weaving equipment (W. Schlafhorst). Major Japanese firms (Howa Machinery, Osaka Kiko, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, and Tsudakoma Industrial) produce equipment for virtually all branches of the textile industry. The largest firms in the USA produce spinning equipment (Whitin Roberts and Platt Saco Lowell), weaving equipment (Rockwell-Draper and Crompton and Knowles), and sewing and knitwear equipment (Singer). Major Swiss companies manufacture spinning equipment (Heberlein Hispano and Rieter) and weaving equipment (Rüti Machinery Works, Adolph Saurer, and Sulzer Brothers). The leading British firms produce spinning equipment (Platt International), knitwear machines (Bentley Engineering), and weaving equipment (British Northrop).


Kurenkov, Iu. V., V. V. Zubchaninov, and M. I. Itin. Ekonomika tekstil’nogo mashinostroeniia SSSR. Moscow, 1969.
Azarnykh, A. K., and I. E. Ikmhil’chik. Osnovnye napravleniia razvitiia tekhniki dlia tekstil’noi i legkoi promyshlennosti v 1971–1975 gg. Moscow, 1971.
Kurenkov, Iu. V., and V. B. Livshits. Tekstil’noe mashinostroenie kapitalisticheskikh stran. Moscow, 1972.
Livshits, V. B. Prognoz razvitiia tekstil’nogo mashinostroeniia kapitalisticheskikh stran do 1990 g.: Obzor. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.