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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know if there's a universal, one-size-fits-all answer for this, but I was hoping someone could give some general guidelines..... I need to redo some small text on a hat, as it looks beyond awful.

What is the best settings for doing small text (and SMALL, like at/under 1/4", and Arial bold), underlay, ext. comp., etc. Should it have no underlay, zigzag, single line, or something else?

Also, while I'm here, I'll ask this: All along I see "push" and "pull" compensation. I've read all about it, but there is no such thing in my program; I do however use "external compensation" (which I mentioned above) which simply extends the stitches x amount outside the perimeter of the object. Are push/pull and ext. comp. the same thing?

Thanks in advance!
Derrick
 

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Flexfits are no different really, you still should use the same guidelines when digitizing for any cap. Bottom up and center out. An Arial Bold all caps should be OK down to about .2". We use a center run underlay and run the lettering by segment rather than laying down the underlay for the entire letter and going back with the cover stitches. On Flexfits the one thing we do also is avoid any start or stop points on the center seam. We will start a line of lettering far enough off center to do this. We like to hit the center seam running. Some but not all flexfits have a really different buckram that makes the center seam a bit difficult. And we usually use a teflon coated 80/12 needle. (But not with really small lettering)

I think it sounds like your External compensation is pretty much the same as pull compensation in Wilcom but keep a couple things in mind. On a lot of materials, horizontal satins and vertical satins will pull completely differently. When using stock lettering, a pull comp adjustment that makes one direction look good might make the other direction look too fat or too thin. It is just a limitation we have to deal with but also the reason that we will digitize lettering manually rather than use stock fonts or auto conversions. Also, in some software you can adjust both pull comp and column width. In Wilcom for example, adjusting column width also takes the underlay margins out the same amount but pull comp leave underlay margins alone. And remember that automatic pull compensation affects both sides of a column and you might have to go in and adjust the A, B, P, R's so that the small opening doesn't close up.

Push is a totally different animal. If you are running a lower case l for example, the column can push and make the l look too tall. A lot of the software will control this to a degree by capping the letters then filling in the middle. If you are punching your own you can sometimes quickly control it by changing the entry and exit points so that it doesn't sew a column from top to bottom or bottom to top.

Push compensation is very very substrate sensitive and is really the primary reason that designs shold be digitized for the specific material. It is very difficult to go back and edit for push comp whereas pull comp isn't quite as difficult.

And don't forget the impact of hooping and backing/topping. And extra piece of tearaway or a layer of solvy in cases where you might not ordinarily use it can sometimes band aid a design.
 

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Derrick,
Sounds like you don't have full digitizing software. If you do have an autodigitizing program, they mostly ignore underlay for letting that size. 1/4" isn't considered that small, but is about the smallest recommended without using special techniques and digitizing manually. For that size, the average is column stitching, .1 mm comp. Adding your own underlay does help lift the thread to stand out more. On the 1/4" lettering I usually use an edge walk underlay, then go with center if the lettering is smaller. They are pretty easy to add and do help the definition of the lettering. I rarely have to worry about bottom up center out, but it is a good practice to get into. All of us have our own preferences and techniques and Mark explained things well to you, although I'm sure it is quite a bit to absorb. Don't worry, we were all there at one point or other. None of us started out knowing it all.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks a bunch to both of you, I read the replies earlier but didn't have time to reply until now.

I forgot to mention I use Ricoma Gold (not the most well-known program obviously :)) for digitizing, and quite honestly I don't know exactly how it compares to the other big programs. I DO know it has plenty of room for improvements, but I also believe it does have enough "advanced" features to get a job done properly. It does autodigitize, but I've NEVER used it and don't plan to. It does of course automatically do any TT font I use. But you're right Jim, especially on small text it does need help (and I try, but I know most of my problems are poor digitizing; I'm learning slowly!)

I use to use at least .4 - .6mm of ext. comp. (must measure differently -- I've always used a min. of .2, even on polos, reg. size text) for smaller lettering on hats, but as is obvious the a's, b's centers get lost after so much. I shall try the underlay types ya'll mentioned.

Again I appreciate the advice - just what I was wondering about - and will certainly try it!
 
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