Best & Most Common Embroidery Digitizing Machine File Formats

There are a lot of complexities that are involved in embroidery digitizing services. From choosing the right embroidery digitizing services to taking care of various intricacies involved in the digitizing process, choosing the right embroidery machines, and getting through all the different embroidery formats. 
While we can’t cover the whole lot of intricacies involved in the embroidery process, below, we will be discussing everything you need to know about the embroidery file format. So, without wasting any time, let’s directly jump to our main topic and gain some essential knowledge about embroidery file formats.

What are embroidery file formats?

Just like you are used to using different file formats for your images (.jpeg, .png, etc.) or different formats for your documentation (.docx, .pdf, .xlxs, etc.), similarly, there are multiple file formats for saving embroidery designs.
The embroidery file format is essentially how a digitized design will be saved and later used by embroidery machines. Embroidery file format includes all the essential details, including the stitch types, density, pattern, language and other information that the embroidery machine will require to precisely embroider a design onto fabric or any other surface.
Make sense?
Well, let’s get into some more details.
Just like there are separate extensions for each computer program or even different extensions for Windows computers and Mac Computers, similarly, there are individual extensions that are used by different embroidery machines. Most of the branded embroidery machines available in the market come with their unique proprietary embroidery file format. This means that these machines can only read and run specific file formats. For instance, .PES is the embroidery file format for embroidery machines from “Brother”, and you would need a .PES embroidery file format to be able to run it on Brother embroidery machine. 

How are embroidery Machine file formats created?

If you go with commercial digitizing services, most of the agencies are able to deliver all major embroidery file formats for clients. As we earlier explained, embroidery file formats are created to save the digitized designs for embroidery. Once your design is digitized using standard digitizing software, the digitizing agency is able to save the design in one or the other file formats. This is also why it is highly recommended to communicate your desired embroidery file format to the digitizing agency at the beginning of the project. This will help them to follow the instructions and create the desired file format. 

Why there are multiple embroidery file formats?

Well, that’s simply why Apple apps don’t get along with Android apps or why Mac software are created differently than PCs. Similarly, the various embroidery machine manufacturers don’t really like to play together. They want to keep their proprietary file formats to keep brand loyalty and keep you from switching between the brands in the future. 
Here’s the business logic behind this. If you have used Brother Embroidery Machine for many years, you must have hundreds and thousands of PES files in the database. Now, with this vast database, you would definitely think twice or even thrice to switch to a Janome Embroidery Machine, since that would result in losing thousands of designs in the database since Janome Embroidery Machine uses .JEF embroidery file format. Smart, right?

Why are there multiple versions of a single embroidery machine format?

Again, that’s simply like we have updated versions of apps released consistently by developers to enrich the user experience and offer new features. Similarly, new versions of embroidery file formats are created to improve technology and perform better with the latest embroidery machines.

Native file formats

Native file formats are default formats that are created by digitizing software. Again, there are multiple digitizing software available in the market, and each software has its unique native file format. Once you are done with digitizing the embroidery design, it is by default saved in the Native File Format of the software. Just as you may imagine, the biggest benefit of using native file format is the easy and faster editing option. Since it would be the native format, you can easily perform all the changes or resizing you want for the design. 
However, on its downside, native file formats can now be run in any embroidery machine. Before you can use these digitized files for embroidery machines, you would have to export the file into the desired embroidery file format (for instance .PES for Brother Embroidery machine).

Expanded file formats

Out of the native embroidery file formats, you can save the digitized embroidery files into various formats as per your requirements. Two of the most widely used embroidery expanded file formats includes; .DST, which is the proprietary format for Tajima and .EXP, which is the proprietary file format for Melco. These two may be termed as legacy embroidery file formats which are used to date, and most of the embroidery machines from other manufacturers will be able to work with one or the other of these two formats.
However, .DST and .EXP embroidery file formats come with severe limitations. To be honest, these aren’t the best embroidery files, especially with reference to data size. Also, these formats don’t see thread colors; instead, always set to the default colors of the software/machine. 

Common Embroidery Digitizing Machine File Formats

Ok, now that we are done looking at the basics of embroidery file formats, let’s quickly look at some of the most widely used embroidery file formats;
  • .DST (Tajima)
  • .EXP (Melco)
  • .CND (Melco)
  • .PES (Brother)
  • .EMB (Wilcom)
  • .ESS (Wilcom ESS)
  • .T15 (Wilcom Saurer)
  • .T10 (Wilcom Plauen)
  • .EMB (Wilcom V9)
  • .ESL (Wilcom ESL)
  • .DAT (Hiraoka DAT)
  • .VEP (Hiraoka VEP)
  • .10O (Toyota)
  • .TAP (Happy)
  • .SAS (Saurer SLC)
  • .T01 (Tajima)
  • .PEC (Brother)


Well, there you have it. Everything you need to know about different embroidery file formats. If you are looking for a reliable and consistent digitizing agency that can help you get the most accurate digitizing files in your desired embroidery file format, get in touch with Genius Digitizing. We are one of the leading embroidery digitizing agencies offering comprehensive digitizing solutions to businesses of all sizes across North America and Europe. Reach out to our customer care team, and we will be pleased to help you with your digitizing needs.