A Brief History
Machine embroidery dates back to 1964, when TAJIMA Company started to manufacture and sell TAJIMA Multi-head Automatic Embroidery machines.
In 1973 Tajima introduced the TMB Series 6-needle (6 color) full-automatic color-change embroidery machine. A few years later, in 1978, Tajima started manufacturing the TMBE Series Bridge Type Automatic Embroidery machines. These machines introduced electronic 6-needle automatic color change technology.
In 1987, Pulse Microsystems introduced a digital asset management application called DDS, which was a design librarian for embroidery machines. This made it more efficient for machine operators to access their designs. In 1988 Tajima designed the TMLE-D5 series embroidery machines, with a pair arrangement of lock-stitch-handle embroidery heads, which were capable of sewing multiple threads.
The computerized machine embroidery process
Machine embroidery in progress
Machine embroidery is a multi-step process with many variables that impact the quality of the final product, including the type of fabric to be embellished, design size, stabilizer choice and type of thread utilized. The basic steps for creating embroidery with a computerized embroidery machine are as follows:
• Create an embroidery design file or purchase a stitchable machine embroidery file. Creation may take hours depending on the complexity of the design, and the software can be costly.
• Edit the design and/or combine with other designs.
• Export the design file to a (proprietary machine) embroidery file that mostly just contains commands for the embroidery machine. If you bought such a file, you may have to convert the file.
• Load the embroidery file into the embroidery machine, making sure it is the correct format for the machine and that the stitched design will fit in the appropriate hoop.
• Determine and mark the location of embroidery placement on the fabric to be embellished.
• Secure the fabric in a hoop with the appropriate stabilizer, and place it on the machine.
• Center the needle over the start point of the design.
• Start and monitor the embroidery machine, watching for errors and issues. Troubleshoot any problems as they arise. The operator should have plenty of needles, bobbins, a can of air (or small air compressor), a small brush, and scissors..
• Remove the completed design from machine. Separate the fabric from the hoop and trim the stabilizer, loose threads, etc.
Digitized embroidery design files can be either purchased or created with industry-specific embroidery digitizing software. Embroidery file formats broadly fall into two categories. The first, source formats, are specific to the software used to create the design. For these formats, the digitizer keeps the original file for the purposes of editing. The second, machine formats, are specific to a particular brand or model of embroidery machine, they contain primarily stitch data (offsets) and machine functions (stitch, trims, jumps, etc.) and are thus not easily scaled or edited without extensive manual work. However, because these files easy to decode, they serve as easy exchange formats, with some formats such as Tajima’s .dst and Melco’s .exp being so prevalent that they have effectively become industry standards and are often supported directly by machines built by rival companies, or through provided software to convert them for the machine.
Many embroidery designs can be downloaded in popular machine formats from embroidery websites. However, since not all designs are available for every machine’s specific format, some machine embroiderers use conversion programs to convert from one machine’s format file to another, with various degrees of reliability.
A person who creates a design is known as an embroidery digitizer or puncher. A digitizer uses software to create an object-based embroidery design, which can be easily reshaped and edited. These files retain important information such as object outlines, thread colors, and original artwork used to punch the designs. When the file is converted to a stitch file, it loses much of this information, rendering editing difficult or impossible.
Software vendors often advertise auto-punching or auto-digitizing capabilities. However, if high-quality embroidery is essential, then industry experts highly recommend either purchasing solid designs from reputable digitizers like us.
For fast and honest digitizing, please send your design to Order Form