“The Passap brand used a different system for making the knit stitches, and is no longer being produced. I have only used Brother knitting machines, so this discussion is geared specifically to Brother, and generally to the Japanese machines. In addition, I have excluded hobby machines, such as the Bond Incredible Sweater Machine, from this discussion simply because I have never seen or used one. However, my understanding is that these machines work in a similar fashion but have fewer features than the home knitting machines. “
Your gauge limits what kind of yarn that machine can knit, though there is usually a range.
The decrease in popularity of machine knitting means that several companies no longer find it profitable to produce machine knitting devices
“Standard gauge machines are the most common. They have 200 needles with a needle pitch of 4.5 mm. They knit a wide variety of yarns, everything from lace weight to sport weight. This makes for beautiful knitted clothing and sweaters, but not the typical heavy ski sweater.Bulky gauge machines have 114 needles with a needle pitch of 9 mm. They are designed to handle worsted weight yarns to create sweaters that look like hand knits, but can also be used with sport weight or bulky yarns. This is your heavy ski sweater.”
You can use punchcards, mylar cards, or an on board computer to create patterns. Machines have different ways of doing this.
(Most of the machines that I have ever seen are probably hobby machines and will not last too long.)