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Why Embroidery Machine File Formats Matter?

by nomandawood
Embroidery Machine File Formats

The embroidery file format is how embroidery designs are saved for sewing on a particular embroidery machine. Some embroidery machine brands, such as Brother or Bernina, require a different embroidery design file format (like .pes or .art).  

As computers, we all know that there are PCs and Macs. As you know, specific programs and files are created to run only on PCs, and specific files are created to run only on Mac computers. In other words, some programs and files are exclusive to PC or Mac. They only work on one of them. The same goes for the embroidery file format. A separate embroidery machine brand proprietary embroidery file formats like .pes for Brothers. So, as a digitizing service providers, we have to keep a keen eye on these formats.

How Embroidery File Formats Have Evolved

At the beginning of my career, there was only one Terminator. This stitch makes a continuous stitch, a satin stitch, and then a stuffing stitch. It all starts within a moment. That was over 35 years ago, and I have to admit a lot has changed since I started my career in manual pantographs. 

From the early days, I have seen the amazing development of the embroidery industry. From manual sewing mode to paper tape drives, to 5 floppy disks, and finally to the world we live in now, all of our data is magically stored in a ghost cloud. 

In the early days of embroidery automation, shuttle looms were fed with jacquard tape reading. These ribbons were the first file format for embroidery and work, as they do today, mathematically. A “robot” at the end of the loom runs the tape through its reader. Like the old paper music tape boxes, the player consists of needles that protrude through holes in the tape and give commands to the instrument. I move X or Y (direction), turn on machine functions such as needle on or off, slow or high speed, sharp plate in and out, and stop commands /color change. In many ways, our modern devices work very similarly. 

History with Major Names

I remember when I started Tajima (in the 1980s), I had to learn how to read jacquard and eight-channel bars. It is important to remember that graphics did not appear on computer screens with editing capabilities in the early days. Instead, I had to learn how to edit graphics while reading the tape. When you unroll your tape, you know to look for familiar sewing, satin, and wrapping patterns. The color change and jump controls have static controls; combining them lets you learn how to read your scanned designs. 

If a fault is detected, cut the part of the tape containing the fault, re-drill the holes and reassemble the design. You usually pray that everything goes well because you won’t necessarily find your error until you run it on the machine. To be honest, I have never edited designs created by others at the time. Of course, the person doing the design is the easiest person to fix because a big part of the process is remembering what you did in the first place. You can almost jog your memory as you move around the bar and look at the controls and modes.

1- Expanded File Formats

Some of the extension formats I used initially were DST/Tajima and .exp/Melco. These still exist today, and almost all embroidery machines, commercial or home, will read one of these two formats. In addition, we always offer both formats when converting our designs for download (there are nearly 30,000 embroidery designs on our website, click here to browse our designs). 

The reason is that it is written in what I like to call the shape of the stone. During transformation, they are rarely destroyed from the original. Like the original, these are just moves and x and y commands. When I converted the original file format to a native format, I noticed that there might be damaged areas. The embossed fill pattern looks perfect on screen but changes when embroidering on the machine! There are many variables when looking for a specific error, so I always recommend looking for a .dst or .exe file.

2- Machine File Formats

When I started my journey as a job coach in the home industry 16 years ago, I admit I was a bit burnt out. After studying more than a dozen business programs, there are still dozens of local markets to digest. What’s even more confusing are all the different file formats. 

Commercial, when we create and sell digital graphics, we have the original software format and then deliver it to our customers (if they have the same software), or in DST/.exp format, that’s it! The cottage industry has an original format for each software and then offers different versions of the machine format for all the different brands of machines. I went from offering no more than three formats to creating what I call the top 11.

List of Embroidery Machine File Format Associated with Each Brand:

Machine Brand Embroidery File Format

  • Janome: JEF.
  • Bernina: ART.
  • Husqvarna / Viking: HUS. & VP3. & VIP
  • Brother / Babylock / Deco: PES / PEC
  • Singer: XXX
  • Pfaff : PCD / PCM / PCS
  • Tajima: DST
  • Melco / Bravo: EXP

I have to use four different programs to ensure the best conversion of the files we send for download. I’m so paranoid about conversions that I wouldn’t delegate a seemingly simple task to just anyone. I still do all the transitions in the design. Yes, I may be a bit of a control freak, but in my defense, I know what to look for when it comes to all the little things that can go wrong when changing designs. I want to be as sure as possible that the conversion is correct when posting. Running a physical sample of each design 11 times is very expensive, so it’s best to stay paranoid. 

Transition From Commercial to Domestic Market

At the beginning of the transition from the commercial market to the domestic market, I had to deal with a very dissatisfied customer. The reason is that she called our toll-free number and complained that the designer bag she bought at an event called Red Roses was showing up on her device as yellow flowers instead of red. He insisted that he didn’t like yellow roses. She only loves red roses and asked us to keep them red, or she wanted her money back. I have to admit I was a little puzzled by his order. 

Since I am not from the colorful world of the internal market, the problem seems to be solved as long as the common ground is derived from the commercial market. I finally managed to calm her down and convince her to change the color of the lines on the machine. Although he played well, I still smile when I think of that conversation.

Why Are There So Many choices of machine file formats?

Think this way, if you were to spend five years building a database of thousands of EPS. Embroidery Designs for Brother Embroidery Machines. You may not want to buy a Janome machine to replace your old PES. These designs do not apply to the new Janome machine. The reason is Janome JEF embroidery digitizing machines are used. Embroidery file format, not PES. Smart, isn’t it? 

Why are there so many versions of machine file formats?

As with technology-based, new “upgrades” are constantly being released to improve your user experience. Just as apps are constantly updated to work better on new phones, so too do embroidery file formats work better with new embroidery machines. 

Generally, most embroidery machines still use an older version of the machine’s file format. For example, a new Brother machine can still play the PES build stored in an older version. So, if you want to give away or sell a design you’ve created in your embroidery software, your safest bet is probably to use an older file format instead of the latest. This will ensure that people with older hardware can still run your design files.

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