February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 65 STARTING DIGITIZING Once the decision is made to take on the digitizing process, there are a few important things to look for in a digitizing program: Vector based. Vector-based digitizing al- lows you to create shapes and convert them to stitching. Additionally, vector tools allow the digitizer to use digitized shapes for other applications. Everyday tools. Don't get too excited over flashy special effects, unless that is your specific requirement. A digitizing system with high-quality, everyday tools will provide more dividends than a system focusing on special effects. Some software programs combine both special effects and everyday tools, which creates a well- balanced approach. Fonts. Approximately 80 percent of all designs have some type of lettering incorpo- rated into the design. A key feature require- ment in digitizing software is professionally digitized fonts. Professionally digitized fonts are far superior to true type fonts that are converted into embroidery. Professional fonts are digitized with a clear understand- ing of stitch direction, kerning, and size parameters. With a clear understanding of usage and limitations, a good keyboard font produces professional-grade results. Modularity. Digitizing skills progress over time. Look for a software program that al- lows you to start with a level that matches your skills and allows movement to higher levels as skills progress. The speed of pro- gression is determined on an individual ba- sis which provides more flexibility through an upgradable system. If all of this sounds overwhelming or makes your head spin, outsourcing may be for you. There is nothing wrong with choosing to outsource a portion or all of your digitizing work. There are numerous digitizing sources spanning the entire globe that are available for contract digitizing. Following are key ele- ments to look for when outsourcing: Quality. Every digitized design is a re- flection on your company image. It is im- portant to find a digitizing company who produces high-quality designs. Don't ask for a sample design to stitch out, as a digi- tizing company would be foolish to send something that's less than show quality. The best option is to submit an actual or- der and then evaluate the design for both design quality and machine efficiency. Communication. Good communication is key. A digitizing company must be able to understand the instructions provided to them and also be able to communicate any potential issues with a design. Source files. It is also a great idea to re- ceive the source file (outline file) that your own brand of software reads. This makes editing design size, density, un- derlay, and text a very easy process. Many digitizing companies have the capability of providing multiple types of outline files. Reliability. Once again, every design is a reflection on your company's image. If you can't receive reliable service from your digi- tizing company, your relationship with your customers can suffer. Keep in mind that even with a reliable digitizing company that sometimes issues occur to delay the time you can begin production. It is a good idea to build in a small buffer as an allowance for any mishaps to prevent you from falling short of your customer's expectations. Whether you decide to take on the digi- tizing process or outsource it, the more understanding you have of the process, the better experience you will be able to provide to your customers. Digitizing is an exciting process that is a never ending learning pro- cess. Embrace the process and choose the best option that fits your business needs. Prior to the computer era, digitizing was known as punching because the em- broidery machines used to read a tape was punched with holes that provided the in- structions to the machines.

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