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Achieve Quality with Punching Sense

    Today’s digitizing software is somewhat bittersweet to some of us old dogs who once punched a design without the use of any type of software. I recall days of cursing and hair pulling caused by problems that no longer occur thanks to various tools of my high-tech embroidery digitizing system. That’s the sweet.

    But when it comes to witnessing what’s now produced on that software and accepted as quality, or arguing various points to improve quality – like why a high quality design is impossible to create in minutes simply by scanning an image, or why automatic functions should never be used without being guided by an educated hand, or why all work can’t be considered final until the sew-out results in quality – well, that’s the bitter.

    I’ll dare to guess that quality results achieved by punching manually teeters on the brink of extinction. Ironically, the very same software I once claimed to be a miraculous invention appears to be the reason. Many embroiderers are beginning to accept machine troubles caused by poor digitizing more so than they did in years past, simply because it’s the only type of digitizing they’re able to find. And it’s not unusual to find novice digitizers who struggle for quality results, believing failures are caused by their lack of computer skills, unaware they may only require a little manual education.

    It’s that knowledge – punching sense, if you will – that can’t be acquired by depending entirely on software. Certainly a change of methods must be accepted as the world moves forward with technology, and software has indeed become a necessity for digitizers, but keeping up with the times does not mean that high quality has to be compromised!

The Challenge

    Perhaps you’ve experienced frustration when long hours of diligent effort to create that perfect design fails. You know your intentions are possible, because you’ve seen others accomplish the same goal, so you begin the search for answers. Note: they will not be found in a software manual! Neither will answers be found by purchasing antique equipment used by veterans. Instead, simply set the act of learning in reverse.

    Veterans who created designs by either punching holes in strips of paper tape or beeping signals to a diskette, while simultaneously viewing the machine sew, had a dickens of a time when they turned on that first computer. On the other side, new digitizers might be proficient at manipulating software functions, but by the time a design is sewn, they’ve no idea what action created particular results. It was necessary for the veteran to learn how to use software, and now the new digitizer must learn how to punch.

    When high-tech madness began, today’s veterans wanted tools to increase digitizing speed with the ability to correct errors or make modifications to what was already punched. For example - deleting one color change, moving one stitch, or accurately resizing without spending hours cutting and splicing tape or redigitizing one small design for yet another week. So, for the sake of gaining speed they met the challenge by facing their fear of destroying that expensive new computer if the wrong button was pushed. (Yes, newbies, that really did scare the heck out of us!)

    In the reverse manner, the new digitizer must accept the sacrifice of speed, spending time to study what will create results immediately upon action. Punching sense evolves only from repeated observation of immediate reaction to action, hands-on experimentation, and a respect for old rules that will never change no matter how high technology flies.

The Reality of Automation

    Without punching sense, today’s digitizing software is just an expensive graphics program sufficient to produce onscreen images. Automatic tools found on most systems make digitizing seem easier, so the novice is discouraged when assumed results fail. Perhaps their high expectation is due to a blurry sales pitch they received when buying their software, or their own unrealistic presumptions that the software will “do it all.” Whatever the reason, when the reality sets in, their dream develops into a frustrating nightmare. They are able to generate the software functions and may even be well-acquainted with embroidery, but creating a quality design becomes a cobweb of confusion leading to dead-ends.


    I won’t deny auto-functions do have a significant use. They’re big timesavers for those who have learned how to accomplish quality results using manual techniques, such as (but not limited to):

    •  How a machine reacts to a particular command
    •  What parameters to apply for various substrates
    •  What adjustments are required when using auto-functions
    •  What to manually do when a function refuses to cooperate
    •  When each auto-function should be employed, if at all.

    Granted, auto-functions are wonderful tools for the skilled digitizer who knows what high quality is and how it is achieved. However, without this knowledge, automatic digitizing tools are just that – tools. (By Bonnie Landsberger)

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