After almost 6 years (1 provisional and 4.5 for review) we finally got our embroidery patent: 8,069,091 Its obvious but true to say its been so long I forget some of the details but the basics remain. We invented an ’embroiderers’ way to offer embroidery design online. The reason i say it that way is typically embroidery digitizing and its software is influenced by graphic/print design. In this process they use ‘blocks’ or templates which can be letters or elements that are effectively stretched or shrunk to change sizing. This creates a huge problem with embroidery since we like to digitize an embroidered logo at its actual size so we use the right stitch types and approach. When someone wants to change the sizing of an embroidered logo most old school digitizing systems and thus web-based ones now, they just stretch the design and try to ‘pack’ in more stitches to fill the area. This works on simple squares, circles and basic text as long as you don’t increase it over 10-20%. Problem is, as an embroidery digitizer, you want to attack the design differently if its 20% larger. You may want to add details that couldn’t be added to the smaller version. You may want to digitize a serif (accents on letters) differently. Sufficed to say, there are hundreds of examples I could bore folks with but it comes down to the basic problem is embroidery looks best if it is digitized for the specific size it will be embroidered in…..not stretched or shrunk from a template.
So, what we (chris’s hard technical work and my embroidery background input) did was invent a way where the user could change the size of a logo, element or text size but we’d serve up a different and specific embroidery file for that size. Instead of having 26 files for the alphabet and then stretching them to fit, we have 78 individual files we serve up as three different sizes. Not an advanced concept of course but unique to embroidery and we built our design application around it.
So, quality (especially of lettering) was the first reason for patenting our embroidery design application. Second was customer experience, ease of ordering and making sure producing their order was full-proof. As perfectionists in embroidery, we wanted to make sure a customer was unable to order anything that couldn’t actually be embroidered on a garment, hat or bag. Most print studios allow for tiny lettering, shading, small outlines, etc all of which are not embroiderable. This means they must contact the customer and change the logo to meet their needs in a traditional manner. Might as well go to your local embroidery shop or screenprinter and place this order in a retail setting which would be ten times easier than discussing colors and concepts (all visual) over the phone or my email. Basically, it would be taking a step backward. So, we developed drag-and-drop technology, the ability to put lettering on top of fill stitches (large backgrounds of stitches) but not on top of satin stitches (other lettering or detail), clicking on the design to change colors, etc. All of this assures that customers can design their embroidered logo completely online and the product will be exactly what they see. Pretty simple right? Yes, but as usual, the details and work that goes into creating something that is simple is very difficult.