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Choosing A Digitizer
Learn how to pick the right digitizer for your shop's digitizing needs.

Good digitizing plays a critical difference role in how well your embroidery machine does its job - which means it affects your profits too. That's why it's so important to find the right digitizer for your business.

If you're shopping for a new digitizing source, or perhaps looking for one to augment the ones you're currently using, you might be tempted to choose whoever can do a design at the lowest price. However, there are many more considerations. Ideally, you want a reasonably priced design that looks great, of course, but you also want one that allows your machine to run at higher speeds without thread breaks and other time-wasting, potentially costly headaches.

A good design is not just about keeping a low stitch count. The digitizer might use stitch-saving techniques that cause thread breaks, and then you've got a problem. You don't want to have to baby sit the machine.

Another time-waster that can result from poor digitizing is thread looping, due to improper stitch length. I don't want to have to trim stitches or edit the design. And I don't want to cut a lot of loose threads at the end of the run.

The Intangibles
Of course, finding a digitizer who turns out good designs is still only half the battle, as numerous other issues must be considered:

Communication skills. You'll want to choose a digitizer with whom you can communicate easily and readily. Imagine the frustration of getting a design on your machine for production, finding a problem with the digitizing, and then having to wait hours, or even days, to get in touch with the digitizer.

Payment options. Does the digitizer take credit cards? Does he take payment on a per-job basis, or require it in bulk payments for groups of jobs?

Available tools. Ask what software the digitizer uses and his output format. You want it in the right format so that you can manipulate the design.

Turnaround time. While it's worth asking how quickly the digitizer can deliver the job, many can do it within 24 hours. However, you may have to pay a premium price for super-fast turnaround time.

Proof format. Find out whether the digitizer will provide a physical sewout or a digital file, such as a screen shot.

Digitizing style or "feel." Many digitizers have a particular style, so ask for samples of previous work and see how it fits your needs. Some digitizers are phenomenally good at small lettering and others aren't.


The Right Information
A good digitizer should have in-depth knowledge about the entire embroidery process, from thread to fabric, and he should stay abreast of the latest product offerings. For instance, the newest generation of polyester threads allows for higher stitch speeds, something the digitizer should take into account.

Ideally, questions about the job's details will be raised by the digitizer, not you or your staff. Such questions indicate that the digitizer knows enough to gather the information required to do a good job for you. Without prompting, a good digitizer will ask questions like how many pieces you're doing, how big the design is, what kind of garment the design is going on, whether it will go on a hat in the future, and so on.

Quantity matters because the digitizer may adjust stitch count accordingly. For instance, if you're doing only 72 pieces, it might make sense to put in a few extra stitches for better integrity. However, if you're doing 10,000 pieces, he'll likely digitize a bit differently, or at least present that different stitch count as an option to you.


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