A Brief History of NIT Product Development
The seeds of successful product development were sown more than a decade before Neal Iund founded and established NIT, Inc., a company that has helped the quilting industry leap into the 21st Century.
From 1972 to 1986, Iund made significant contributions to the sewing industry while working for Bernina Sewing Machine Company. During this period, he managed the mechanical department, and was responsible for technical training and warranty of Bernina Sewing Machine products at the company’s western U.S. importer in Salt Lake City, Utah. Iund received his training under the tutelage of Swiss factory technicians in Salt Lake City, and also at the Bernina Factory in Steckborn, Switzerland.
But his contributions to the sewing industry soon went farther then he could have imagined. In 1982, Iund achieved his first independent sewing development success with a long-arm custom machine that was created to sew carbon laminates for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. One year later he began to develop and manufacture a line of similar machines for the quilting industry.
The Legacy I was the first long-arm artisan, “sit-down” quilting machine introduced to the market. The machine was of extraordinary quality, modeled after the benchmark Bernina 217 and later the 217N. Other Iund designed and built sewing machines are currently used in making sails, wing fabric for hang gliders, flags, aerospace applications, and assorted other industries involved in sewn fabrics and materials.
In 1985, Iund was invited to participate in the design review board for the Bernette MO334 and MO335 over-lock machines at Fritz Gegauf AG in Steckborn, Switzerland. This involvement triggered in Iund an enthusiasm to continue and expand his own on-going product design and development efforts. The next year Iund left Bernina to create NIT, Inc. and continue development of specialized long-arm sewing machines. NIT was quickly recognized as a design and prototype operation for many commercial ventures unrelated to machine quilting. NIT has developed products found in the medical device, health and fitness equipment, aerospace, and various other commercial industries. Iund made multiple patents in those industries.
In 1998, Iund began work on a new generation of sewing machines that would be more economical to build. He said the manufacture of the Legacy I and II machines was more a “labor of love than a profitable business. The real payback came when my customer friends would share their appreciation for their machines.” In 2005 NIT ceased to manufacture the “Legacy I” quilting and sail making machines because of high manufacturing costs.
A 1998 NIT initiative to create new quilting machine concepts was partially realized in 2002. That was the year the first of two mechanical design concepts materialized for the HQ-Sixteen Quilting Machine for HandiQuilter, Inc. HQ-Sixteen development began in July of 2002, and the first operating prototype was available three months later. The rapid product development cycle of the HQ-Sixteen machine was possible because the core technology was already sitting on the shelf at NIT.
The second NIT design concept will makes its way to the market place in 2011 and promises to revolutionize the quilting industry. Branded under NIT’s existing Legacy® product line, the design prototype is complete. It will be initially offered in two different variants aimed at the commercial (cottage industry) and industrial markets. More variants may follow as unique industry needs are identified. The new Legacy® line of machines will again provide unsurpassed quality found in previous Legacy® products, with new levels of refinement, performance, and adaptability.
NIT has been an innovative leader in the quilting industry since 1984. The company’s continuing effort is to produce the best designs for the marketplace with the highest quality that will benefit artisan users everywhere.
Much of the technology found in the machine quilting industry today originated in the shops of NIT. If you would like to apply NIT technology to your new product or idea, please contact us.