Embroidery file formats are the way to save an embroidery design to be stitched out on a particular embroidery machine brand. Some brands of embroidery machines (such as Brother or Bernina) need different file formats for embroidery design (such as PES. or ART.). For an embroidery file format to be read or understood by an embroidery machine, the native language known by a brand of embroidery machine must be spoken.
We are all familiar with computers since there are PCs & Mac computers. Some programs & files are created to run only on a Laptop, as you well know, while some files are created to run only on a Mac. In other words, a PC or Mac-based operating system is proprietary to those programs & files. They’re running on one or the other only. For embroidery file formats, the same thing goes. A particular embroidery file format (e.g., PES.) is proprietary to a separate brand of embroidery machines (example: Brother)
The development of embroidery file formats
There was just a stitch there a few years before. A running stitch was created from that stitch, a satin stitch, and then a filling stitch. All began with a single stitch. That was over 35 years ago, and since I started my career as a manual pantograph puncher, I must admit that much has changed.
In the early days of embroidery automation, by reading Jacquard paper tapes, Schiffli looms ran. These tapes were the first embroidery file format, and it operated inside a mathematical base, much like today. By its reader, the “automat” fed the tape at the end of the loom. The reader consisted of pins that would release the paper tape through the holes and send the computer commands, just like old paper tape music boxes. I’d shift X or Y (direction), launch machine functions such as needles in or needle out, slow or quick speed, boring plate in or out, and a command to adjust stop/color. Our modern computers, in many respects, function in a very similar way.
Embroidery File Types by Machine
dst: embroidery file format for Tajima commercial embroidery machines
exp: embroidery file format for Melco commercial embroidery machines
jef: embroidery file format for Janome commercial embroidery machines
kwk: embroidery file format for Brother commercial embroidery machines
dsb: embroidery file format for Barudan commercial embroidery machines
tap: embroidery file format for Happy commercial embroidery machines
Free embroidery file format converter options
Your best choice for converting embroidery files from one format to another is possibly Wilcom Truesizer. You first have to register on their website to gain entry. Then, you can choose to download the software’s desktop edition or use the web-based option. I have used the web-based version of Wilcom Truesizer since the desktop version only runs on a PC, and I operate on a MAC.
Another choice is to use EmbroideryDesigns.com’s web-based tool. I went to their site, built an account and transformed one of my embroidery designs from a PES to a DST file. It seemed the conversion went great. But (here’s the catch), the site only lets you convert five files for free every month.
Is this possible to convert a bunch of embroidery files at once?
Yes. A whole set of files can be transferred from one type of embroidery file format to another. It’s called “batch conversion.” If you have a group of files that all need to be transferred to a particular format, batch conversion is helpful.
I realized quickly that I needed to be able to batch convert when I began digitizing. It just took too long to save each design individually. Plus, I would not save my file in all the formats I wanted to give my clients with my digitizing program. So, I set out to look for inexpensive software for batch conversion. Many of the major digitizing programs these days have a batch conversion feature.