DIGITIZING SOFTWARE AND TRAINING MAKE LEARNING TO PUNCH EASIER

Byline: GIULIANA FANN

WESTPORT, Conn. — As embroidery digitizing software hurtles forward, punchers may wonder how they can keep pace with the updates. But, for those who already operate digitizing software, the transition to newer systems is fairly facile and can be learned in a few days, experts agree.
The technologically wary who are taking their first leap into the newer software programs may find the programs a bit daunting to learn, but not overwhelmingly difficult.
“The idea behind technology is to make things easier and faster,” said Ken Parsons, spokesman at Hirsch International in Hauppauge, N.Y.
Before Melco Embroidery Systems introduced the first computerized digitizing systems 20 years ago, you needed three years of apprenticeship to create a design. Now, with digitizing innovation, someone can operate the system in about one week, Parsons said.
Parsons, however, said most users find it takes about three weeks to be comfortable with the software and about three to six months to become skilled on more complicated designs.
To guide neophytes through the new software labyrinth of scanning, fill replication and disk-importing designs, software companies such as Hirsch International, Gunold+Stickma in Atlanta, and Savannah, Ga.-based Textile Technologies offer seminars and training for their customers. At each company, training periods last about five full days. And customers can follow up with software representatives through telephone, fax and E-mail.
“I was completely computer illiterate,” said Karen Antonelli, president of Stitch Wave, a punch house in Lincroft, N.J. “Now, I think I have a great system that is really user friendly.”
Antonelli uses a Brother PG-1 system. A Hirsch customer, she said the company provided good support during her learning process four years ago.
Experts agree that learning speed and ease depend on the student. While the concept is understandable, operation of the machine requires complex reasoning abilities for the digitizer needs to think not only about design but also about thread count and direction.
Ed Levy, president of Stitch by Stitch, a digitizing firm in Miami, said some of his digitizers learned complicated design on the PF-1 system in a few weeks while others took six months to learn how to execute complex designs.
“If you have good abstract reasoning, you could fly right through learning the system,” Antonelli said. “It may take others a bit longer.”
Before purchasing a new software system, experts recommend getting as much information as possible. Ed Harof, vice-president of technology at Gunold+Stickma, advises potential buyers to attend trade shows and seminars “with an open mind.” He also recommends reading trade journals and telephoning users of various systems.
While many systems, such as Brothers PG-1 and Gunold’s APS Light, are great for the novice, students also need to know embroidery basics, said Walter Floriani of Floriani International, a California-based stock design and teaching company.
“A novice can choose from a wide array of software that can fit his needs, but you still need to know what the embroidery process is,” Floriani said. “You need to know that it is an abstract art using materials and balancing densities.”
At various times during the year, Floriani offers two-day teaching seminars throughout the country.
Software and equipment vendors also offer training. Hirsch will offer a two-day seminar Jan. 19-20 in St. Augustine Beach, Fla. A second will be held March 22-23 in Nashville. Gunold will hold its annual punchers’ conference from March 7-9 1996 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Textile Technologies will hold spring 1996 conferences in Greensboro, N.C.; Costa Mesa, Calif.; and Cleveland, Ohio.

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