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Embroidery Digitizing Software

(written by Jason)

Trying something different today.  Alaine got a contract job that needs a custom embroidery design made from their logo, and their logo unfortunately isn’t the simplest to digitize.  Our experience with digitizing software hasn’t been that great, but then again it’s been primarily with free or extremely low-cost versions.  The open-source movement hasn’t hit the machine embroidery world yet, so free still means pitiful and cheap still means worthless.

Anyway, Alaine picked up a used copy of Janome’s Digitizer 10000 for us to try out.  It’s secured by a USB key, so we can return it if it’s not up to our needs.  I’ve just gotten it installed and updated.  I still need to reboot the computer before I start it up (ridiculous in this day and age to require a reboot on a simple application installation).

I’ll give it a try and see what it can do.  From my experience and other bloggers experience, there’s not much chance of any software being able to magically load in an image and spew out a final product.  It seems to be a fairly universal opinion that “hand-punched” designs are usually the best.  Software can be helpful in a lot of ways, but even the simplest designs are going to need some manual adjustments to be considered high-quality.  For instance, it would be hard to write logic into software that would enable it to know it can take the long way around with a running stitch as a trade-off that will allow it to avoid a jump later that will need to be manually trimmed out.

The other problem I should mention with auto-digitizing is that many times the graphic file being used isn’t nearly as clean as it needs to be.  The software needs to know that this spot is red and that spot is green.  If the spots in between are gradual shades of both, it’s going to have a hard time deciding what to do.  Many graphic files of company logos that we’ve looked at aren’t nearly as clean when you zoom in as they would appear.  Even a simple black logo on white background will usually have gradations of black to grey to white around the edges.  That’s what makes it look so wonderful on letterhead and business cards.  It also gives digitizing software fits.  That graphic file of black on white really needs to be converted to a 2-color black on white bitmap and cleaned up first before attempting to digitize it.  Then the software should be able to clearly understand what to do.

Anyway, enough complaining about how complicated it is.  Time to reboot and see how it goes.  I’ll hopefully have a positive review of the software to report later tonight.

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