In 2015, major British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer removed more than 12,000 items from store shelves in the UK after sewing machine needles were found still attached to four children's garments. Two children received scratches from the needles in the young girls' dungarees, trousers and pajamas sets. The company urged customers to return items from the four product lines for a full refund.

Needles are used for garment sewing but they sometimes get left behind and end up hidden in clothing. Sewing needles are fine and sharp and can snap during production. That’s why garment factories use needle detectors to identify needles or metal debris in finished products.

What is a needle detector?

Metal detection is a vital part of the quality control process. Without it, metal debris can be left in clothing, causing problems and even injury for the end user. Safety is a priority for garment factories, especially as clothing could be supplied to young children and babies. Needle detectors allow factory staff to remove unwanted items before goods are shipped, removing the risk of product recalls and injury.

How does data connectivity enhance needle detectors?

Connected needle detectors can share information online. Built-in data connection allows information to be shared to other quality control and packaging machines, and even factory computers. Integration with other garment manufacturing devices means the entire production can perform at higher efficiency while garment manufacturers' data is collected in real-time.

With data connectivity, users can see remotely how many items have passed and failed quality control, giving factory operators an overview of the entire process. Systems also log the date and time of the QC pass and fail. This information can be analyzed by staff, helping them make swift decisions and enhancing factory efficiency.

Why do we need needle detector?

  • Needle detectors comply with global safety standards

Needle detectors identify metallic objects such as broken needles or staples that are left during the manufacturing process. Scanning for dangerous items before exporting is vital, as they can cause injury to users, especially babies and small children. It also prevents potential legal action from customers injured by metallic objects, which can be costly and damaging to the factory’s reputation.

  • Needle detectors prepare goods for export

Inspecting fabric for needles is a crucial part of the quality control process. If factories are planning to export products worldwide, they must be prepared to check for needles. Garments and fabric need to be tested for metallic debris to be exported to the US or Europe. In short, needle detectors open garment factories to worldwide markets.

Many global brands have implemented a needle control procedure for suppliers, to reduce the risk of injury from broken needles. This provides factories with a robust procedure and compliance checklist, including number of broken needles and needle replacement guidelines. It also states how to safely dispose of broken needles to avoid injury. Failing to provide evidence of needle detection testing could mean that products are rejected by distributors in other countries, resulting in canceled contracts or costly product recalls.

  • Needle detectors result in higher quality products

Garment factories want to produce high quality products for their customers. Detecting needles before shipment is one way to ensure this. Product recalls are expensive and troublesome, and factories should try to avoid them at all costs. Needle detectors help to lower product defects and allow factories to send out safe, high quality goods.

Needle detectors even identify metallic powders and dyes that are left on fabric during the manufacturing process. Powders and dyes can be transferred onto needle detectors, so machines should be cleaned properly after use to avoid inaccurate detection results.

  • Needle detectors help maintain vendor reputation

Quality issues reflect badly on a factory’s reputation, and are responsible for canceled contracts and customer mistrust. Garment factories can avoid this by incorporating needle detectors into their production process, identifying issues before customers do.

  • Needle detectors automate quality control

Needle detectors with data connectivity allow staff to log information in real-time, enhancing the decision making process. Users can track quality control progress, as the number of passes and fail items is automatically logged. Integration with other devices enables the communication between machines, departments, and even computers.

How do needle detectors work?

Finished garments are placed onto a conveyor belt, which sends them through an enclosed tunnel to be inspected for needles and weighed. Needle detectors usually include four main parts: a sensor, control panel, signal processor, and alarm. If metal from a stray needle is detected, the sensor will be activated which sets off an alarm to notify the machine operator. The conveyor belt stops immediately when the alarm sounds, allowing staff to safely remove needles from garments. If the items pass through the machine without an alarm, there is no sign of metal debris.

Items must be properly placed on the machine to avoid inaccurate results. Some needle detectors are equipped with a screen to show the exact position of the debris, allowing quick removal by staff. In high sensitivity mode, metal pieces as small as 0.8 mm are detected, increasing to 1 mm on low sensitivity mode.

Needle detector machines should be regularly maintained and calibrated for accurate results. Factories can calibrate machines by attaching a small metal object onto a piece of fabric and inserting it into the needle detector. Machines usually have nine calibration points, and all must be tested. The needle detector should identify any metal objects and sound an alarm.

The ON-688CD6 from Oshima is equipped with enlarged 10-point sensor probes, which improve sensitivity and reliability. The machine supports three inspection modes: high sensitivity, standard, and dyed fabrics, providing support for various quality inspection requirements. The machine is outfitted with the standard alert indication light and belt reverse functions. OSHIMA needle detecting machine includes an automated two-hour downtime for calibration checks, which is unparalleled in the industry. It is also an industry first built-in data connectivity, enhancing factory productivity through integration with other machines.


Needle detectors are a crucial step in the production process, reducing the risk of defective products shipped and the possibility of consumer injury — saving factories from product recalls or expensive lawsuits. On top of this, data connectivity lets factories track the number of accepted and rejected goods, enabling them to share data with other departments, enhancing the quality management process, leading to increased efficiency and higher quality goods. Without robust quality control via a needle detector, garment manufacturers may be limited in the customers that they can work with and may suffer a poor reputation among the garment manufacturing industry. Talk to us today to learn more.