March '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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24 || P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 1 7 Ed Levy is the director of software products at Hirsch So- lutions Inc. and owner of Digitize4u, an embroidery and digitizing operation. A 23-year industry veteran, Levy has owned screen printing, embroidery, and digitizing business- es. In 2001, Levy began consulting and founded EmbForum, a professional Tajima DG/ML by Pulse software users group. THREAD ... ACCORDING TO ED B Y E D L E V Y H ave you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a digitizer? Why isn't there a single technique, so all designs look alike? Why does a design look perfect on one color shirt and just so-so on another color? To understand what goes on in the mind of a digitizer, you must first understand the responsibility of the digitizer. The digitized de- sign is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of every design run on an embroidery machine. Profit and loss often begins and ends with the digitized file. Naturally, all other aspects of the process play an important part as well. The embroidery machine should be well maintained and operating at optimum performance. The hooping process should be accurate and at proper tightness, and the operator should be skilled at running the machine. However, with everything else in place, the digitized file is the critical factor. In the event of a problem, it is very easy to blame the digitizer, but all components must be evaluated before jumping to conclusions. The following questions and answers will help you understand what goes on inside the mind of a digitizer. WHY ISN'T THERE A SINGLE TECHNIQUE, SO ALL DESIGNS LOOK ALIKE? Digitizing is an art. Every stitch within a design is subject to artistic interpretation. A digitizer must decide which type of stitch, under- lay stitch, angle, and placement to use in a design. While there are only four basic stitch types (manual, run, satin, and fill), the use and combination of these stitches is endless. There are many basic rules applied to digitizing, such as minimum and maximum stitch lengths, density values for proper coverage, and the allowance for fabric push and pull. These parameters are usually consistent within the digitizing process, but things begin to differ when the digitizer determines stitch type, stitch direction, and border types. These set- tings determine the visual aspects of the design process, which is what makes one design look different from the other. When I started in this industry in 1987, I was told that if you give the same design to 10 different digitizers, you will receive 10 differ- ent looks. Now, nearly three decades later, not only is the statement still true, but the level of variance will be even greater due to the added bells and whistles loaded into embroidery software programs. WHY DOES A DESIGN LOOK GOOD ON ONE FABRIC OR COLOR AND NOT ANOTHER? When a design is digitized, it is digitized for a particular size, fabric, and color. A quality digitizer will digitize a design for maximum ver- satility. However, there will be many situations where a design will need to be edited to be at its best. Garment style: Different styles of garments have different charac- teristics. A piqué shirt is riddled with a small waffle-type pattern; a jersey material is smoother but has more stretch to it; fleece is thicker, and the stitching can sink into the fabric; denim is flat and stable; and terrycloth can eat up the stitches due to the loft of the fibers. Each of these different characteristics affects the way that stitches lay on a gar- ment and ultimately affect the way the finished design works. Garment color: Different color garments reflect light differently. Tone-on-tone or threads that are similar to garment color seem to have the most coverage as there is very little contrast in colors. White thread on a dark garment is usually one of the most challenging An Inside Look at… A Digitizer's Mind Digitizing is tricky, not only because it can be done so many different ways, but because it requires a variety of different skillsets. (Image courtesy Hirsch Solutions Inc.)

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