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Title:
EMBROIDERY QUILTING APPARATUS, METHOD, AND COMPUTER-READABLE MEDIUM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/083647
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Presented are a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium for stitching. The method includes examining, by an examiner, an embroidery design, wherein the examiner is operably coupled to a controller and a sewing head, and wherein the controller comprises a memory having a capacity, and wherein the controller is operable to cause the sewing head to stitch a work piece. The method further includes determining, by the examiner, a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design, and dividing, by the examiner, the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections. The method still further includes transmitting the plurality of separate sections at a plurality of different times to the controller such that the controller the plurality of separate sections do not exceed the capacity of the memory at any one of the plurality of different times.

Inventors:
SCHWARZBERGER, Neal, A. (9 West Eden Elm Circle, The Woodlands, TX, 77381, US)
SCHNAUFER, William, E. (251 Barclay Square Drive, Rochester, NY, 14618, US)
Application Number:
US2018/051931
Publication Date:
May 02, 2019
Filing Date:
September 20, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ABM INTERNATIONAL, INC. (P.O. Box 1820, Montgomery, TX, 77356, US)
International Classes:
D05B3/00
Foreign References:
US20150128835A12015-05-14
US20060021559A12006-02-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MENASCO, Timothy, W. et al. (Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, 1600 Bausch & Lomb PlaceRochester, NY, 14604-2711, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A method for stitching, the method comprising:

(a) examining, by an examiner, an embroidery design, wherein the examiner is operably coupled to a controller and a sewing head, and wherein the controller comprises a memory having a capacity, and wherein the

controller is operable to cause the sewing head to stitch a work piece;

(b) determining, by the examiner, a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design;

(c) dividing, by the examiner, the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections;

(d) transmitting the plurality of separate sections at a plurality of different times to the controller such that the plurality of separate sections do not exceed the capacity of the memory at any one of the plurality of different times; and

(e) in response to the controller, stitching, by the sewing head, the plurality of separate sections into the work piece based on the determined needle drop location.

2. The method according to claim 1 , the method further comprising pausing the stitching between completion of stitching at least one of the plurality of separate sections.

3. The method according to claim 1 , wherein the embroidery design is an electronic embroidery design.

4. The method according to claim 1 , wherein the sewing head comprises a reciprocating needle for stitching having a reciprocating cycle, and an encoder for regulating a location of the reciprocating needle in its reciprocating cycle.

5. The method according to claim 1 , the method further comprising displaying, by a display, the plurality of separate sections, and assigning a reference character to each one of the plurality of separate sections, wherein each reference character is an identifier for one of the plurality of separate sections.

6. An apparatus for stitching, the apparatus comprising:

an examiner operable to examiner an embroidery design to determine a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design, the examiner is further operable to divide the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections, the examiner operable to maintain the embroidery design and the plurality of separate sections in an examiner memory;

a sewing head including a reciprocating needle, the sewing head operable to stitch a work piece; and

a controller having a memory capacity and operably coupled to the examiner and the sewing head, the controller operable to cause the sewing head to stitch the work piece, the controller operable to receive the plurality of separate sections from the examiner at a plurality of different times such that the plurality of separate sections do not exceed the memory capacity at any one of the plurality of different times,

wherein the sewing head is operable to stitch, in response to the controller, the plurality of separate sections into the work piece based on the determined needle drop location.

7. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the controller is operable to cause the sewing head to pause the stitching between completion of stitching at least one of the plurality of separate sections.

8. The apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the apparatus is a quilting machine, and wherein the embroidery design is an electronic embroidery design.

9. The apparatus according to claim 6, the apparatus further comprising an encoder for regulating a position of the reciprocating needle within its reciprocating cycle.

1 0. The apparatus according to claim 6, the apparatus further comprising a display for displaying the plurality of separate sections, and assigning a reference character to each one of the plurality of separate sections, wherein each reference character is an identifier for one of the plurality of separate sections.

Description:
EMBROIDERY QUILTING APPARATUS, METHOD, AND COMPUTER-READABLE

MEDIUM

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001 ] The present disclosure relates to a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium for stitching. The present disclosure relates more particularly to a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium for embroidery stitching.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

[0002] Embroidery is the craft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery can also include the use of metal strips, beads, and sequins. Embroidery can be used on caps, hats, coats, blankets, dresses, and shirts. Embroidery can be used with a variety of different threads and/or yarn color.

[0003] Embroidery thread can be manufactured with cotton and yarns as well as in wool and linen. Ribbon embroidery includes the use of narrow ribbon in silk. Surface embroidery techniques such as chain stitch and couching are among the most cost effective for high-end yarns. Canvas work techniques require more threading material, but usually provide a more robust final product. [0004] An embroidery hoop or frame can be used in both canvas work and surface embroidery. This stretches the material to ensure that even stitching is employed throughout the embroidered design. Embroidery can include the use of similar stitching patterns to form a design, or the use of many different stitching patterns to form a design.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present disclosure to provide a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium for quilting.

[0006] A first exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides a method for stitching. The method includes examining, by an apparatus, a stitching design, and determining, by the apparatus, a needle drop location of each stitch of the stitching design. The method further includes stitching, by the apparatus, the stitching design into a work piece based on the determined needle drop location, wherein the stitching comprises continuously moving a sewing head of the apparatus relative to the work piece.

[0007] A second exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides an apparatus for stitching. The apparatus includes a sewing head including a reciprocating needle, a memory including computer program instructions, and a processor, wherein the sewing head including the

reciprocating needle, the memory, and the processor are configured to cause the apparatus to at least examine a stitching design. The apparatus is further configured to determine a needle drop location of each stitch of the stitching design, and stitch the stitching design into a work piece based on the

determined needle drop location, wherein the stitching comprises continuously moving a sewing head of the apparatus relative to the work piece.

[0008] A third exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides a non-transitory computer-readable medium tangibly comprising computer program instructions which when executed on a processor of an apparatus causes the apparatus to at least examine a stitching design, and determine a needle drop location of each stitch of the stitching design. The non-transitory computer-readable medium including computer program instructions when executed on the processor further cause the apparatus to stitch the stitching design into a work piece based on the determined needle drop location, wherein the stitching comprises continuously moving a sewing head of the apparatus relative to the work piece.

[0009] A fourth exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides an apparatus for stitching. The apparatus includes a quilting machine having a work piece retention area and a sewing head with a reciprocating needle, the sewing head configured to form a plurality of stitches and moveable relative to the workpiece retention area, and a controller for controlling movement of the sewing head relative to the work piece retention area, the controller operable to examine a stitching design to determine a needle drop location of each stitch of the stitching design and a length of each stitch of the stitching of the design. The apparatus further includes an encoder for regulating a position of the reciprocating needle within its reciprocating cycle, the encoder operably connected to the controller, and an X-Y encoder positionable adjacent to a portion of the work piece retention area, the X-Y encoder operably connected to the controller.

[001 0] A fifth exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides a method of stitching. The method includes examining, by an apparatus, an embroidery design, and determining, by the apparatus, a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design. The method further includes dividing, by the apparatus, the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections, selecting an order for stitching the plurality of separate sections, and based on the selecting, stitching, by the apparatus, the plurality of separate sections into a work piece based on the determined needle drop location, wherein the stitching comprises moving a sewing head of the apparatus relative to the work piece.

[001 1 ] A sixth exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides an apparatus for stitching, the apparatus including a sewing head including a reciprocating needle, a memory including computer program instructions, and a processor, wherein the sewing head including the reciprocating needle, the memory, and the processor are configured to cause the apparatus to at least examine an embroidery design, and determine a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design. The the sewing head including the reciprocating needle, the memory, and the processor are configured to further cause the apparatus divide the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections, select an order for stitching the plurality of separate sections, and based on the selecting, stitch the stitching design into a work piece based on the determined needle drop location, wherein the stitching comprises moving a sewing head of the apparatus relative to the work piece.

[001 2] A seventh exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides a method of stitching. The method includes examining, by an examiner, an embroidery design, wherein the examiner is operably coupled to a controller and a sewing head, and wherein the controller comprises a memory having a capacity, and wherein the controller is operable to cause the sewing head to stitch a work piece. The method further includes determining, by the examiner, a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design, and dividing, by the examiner, the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections. The method still further includes transmitting the plurality of separate sections at a plurality of different times to the controller such that the controller the plurality of separate sections do not exceed the capacity of the memory at any one of the plurality of different times, and in response to the controller, stitching, by the sewing head, the plurality of separate sections into the work piece based on the determined needle drop location.

[001 3] An eighth exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure provides an apparatus for stitching. The apparatus includes an examiner operable to examiner an embroidery design to determine a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design, the examiner is further operable to divide the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections, the examiner operable to maintain the embroidery design and the plurality of separate sections in an examiner memory, and a sewing head including a reciprocating needle, the sewing head operable to stitch a work piece. The apparatus further includes a controller having a memory capacity and operably coupled to the examiner and the sewing head, the controller operable to cause the sewing head to stitch the work piece, the controller operable to receive the plurality of separate sections from the examiner at a plurality of different times such that the plurality of separate sections do not exceed the memory capacity at any one of the plurality of different times, wherein the sewing head is operable to stitch, in response to the controller, the plurality of separate sections into the work piece based on the determined needle drop location.

[001 4] The following will describe embodiments of the present disclosure, but it should be appreciated that the present disclosure is not limited to the described embodiments and various modifications of the invention are possible without departing from the basic principle. The scope of the present disclosure is therefore to be determined solely by the appended claims. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

[001 5] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a configuration of a device suitable for use in practicing exemplary embodiments of this disclosure.

[001 6] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of another configuration of a device suitable for use in practicing exemplary embodiments of this disclosure.

[001 7] FIG. 3 is a simplified block diagram of a device suitable for use in practicing exemplary embodiments of this disclosure.

[001 8] FIG. 4 is a logic flow diagram in accordance with a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium for performing exemplary embodiments of this disclosure.

[001 9] FIG. 5 is a logic flow diagram in accordance with a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium for performing exemplary embodiments of this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0020] Embodiments of the present disclosure provide a method, apparatus, and computer-readable medium that allow a quilting machine to examine an embroidery design to determine the needle drop locations of the stitches, and then allows a user to automatically embroider the examined design on the workpiece with the quilting machine or a long-arm quilting machine. [0021 ] Referring to FIG. 1 , shown is an exemplary quilting machine 1 00. It should be noted that embodiments of the present disclosure are not limited to the particular configuration of quilting machine 1 00, but may include many different types of configurations provided they operate as described below.

[0022] The term quilting machine 1 00 encompasses any device for stitching or embroidery of a workpiece 1 02 (or textile). The term quilting machine 1 00 includes embroidery machines, quilting machines, and long arm quilting machines for stitching together multiple layers, such as a filler layer between a top and a bottom textile layer.

[0023] The term workpiece 1 02 (or textile) includes any article of manufacture or fabric made by weaving, felting, knitting, crocheting,

compressing natural or synthetic fibers. In one exemplary embodiment, workpiece 1 02 is a quilt. It is common to refer to sections of a quilt as a quilt block. A quilt block is a small segment of a quilt top. The combination of a number of quilt blocks together makes a quilt. The blocks can be the same, or different from each other. Quilt blocks can be pieced or appliqued or may represent a given portion of the quilt.

[0024] Quilting machine 1 00 includes a main frame 1 04, a sewing machine 1 06, support frame 1 08 for supporting or retaining a workpiece, a sewing head 1 1 0, a reciprocating needle 1 1 2, a motor 1 1 4, a controller 1 1 6, an encoder 1 1 8, and an examiner 1 20. [0025] Main frame 1 04 is coupled to support frame 1 08. Main frame 1 04 includes a combination of legs, struts, and support bars to maintain a position of support frame 1 04 and quilting machine 1 00 above a floor or opposing surface. Support frame 1 08 provides a workpiece retention area that retains workpiece 1 02 or a portion of workpiece 1 02 relative to main frame 1 04 and relative to sewing machine 1 06. Support frame 1 04 can include a supply roll assembly 1 1 3 and take up roll assembly 1 1 1 for maintaining and selectively providing portions of workpiece 1 02 that are not presently maintained within the workpiece retention area.

[0026] Support frame 1 04 can include any variety of configurations, wherein the frame includes struts or supports for engaging components described herein. Support frame 1 04 is operable to support and maintain all of the elements of quilting machine 1 00 including main frame 1 08, sewing machine 1 06, and workpiece 1 02. The frame can be made of any of a variety of materials such as metals, plastics, composites, wood or any combination thereof.

[0027] Sewing machine 1 06 includes sewing head 1 1 0. Sewing head 1 1 0 includes a portion above the plane of the work piece retention area and a second portion below the plane of the workpiece retention area, thereby providing for passage of a portion of reciprocating needle 1 1 2 through workpiece 1 02 and selectively engaging the passage of a length of thread through workpiece 1 02. Exemplary embodiments of sewing head 1 1 0 are configured to operably move and stitch through the plane of the workpiece retention area through the use of a plurality of wheels, gears, rails slides, or combinations thereof.

[0028] Controller 1 1 6 is operably connected to the sewing head 1 1 0, encoder 1 1 8, and examiner 1 20. The controller 1 1 6 can include a display and input, such as a touch screen, keyboard, keypad, and/or mouse. The controller 1 1 6 can be physically connected to the main frame 1 04 or the sewing machine 1 06. Alternatively, the controller 1 1 6 can be a stand-alone device, which communicates with the sewing machine 1 06, the encoder 1 1 8, and the examiner 1 20 through a wired or wireless connection.

[0029] Encoder 1 1 8 includes mechanical sensors for sensing movement of sewing machine 1 06 relative to support frame 1 08. Encoder 1 1 8 operably tracks and communicates a direction and velocity of sewing head 1 1 0 over the workpiece retention area. Encoder 1 1 8 is operably connected to controller 1 1 6 to communicate with controller 1 1 6 the data necessary to determine the direction, location, and speed of the sewing head 1 1 0 relative to workpiece 1 02. Encoder 1 1 8 is also operably connected to controller 1 1 6 to communicate with controller 1 1 6 the data necessary to determine the drop location of reciprocating needle 1 1 2. For instance encoder 1 1 8 may be operable to determine the z-axis position of reciprocating needle 1 1 2 , the direction of movement of reciprocating needle 1 1 2 (i.e., up movement or down movement), and/or the speed of the up and down movement of reciprocating needle 1 1 2. [0030] In one exemplary embodiment, encoder 1 1 8 includes at least a first encoder 1 1 8 that operably tracks and communicates a direction and velocity of movement of the sewing head 1 1 0 in the x-axis direction, a second encoder 1 1 8 that operably tracks and communicates a direction and velocity of movement of the sewing head 1 1 0 in the y-axis direction, and a third encoder 1 1 8 that operably tracks and communicates a drop location, direction, and velocity of movement of reciprocating needle 1 1 2. It should be appreciated that embodiments of encoder 1 1 8 may be located on or in a body of sewing head 1 1 0, and/or the rails, gears, wheels, or a combination thereof on which sewing head 1 1 0 moves throughout the workpiece retention area.

[0031 ] Motor 1 1 8 is operably connected to and communicates with controller 1 1 6 and/or encoder 1 1 8. Motor 1 1 8 controls the up and down speed of reciprocating needle 1 1 2 and movement of sewing head 1 1 0 relative to workpiece retention area. In some embodiments, motor 1 1 8 includes one or more motors each operable to move a different element or multiple elements of sewing machine 1 06. For instance, motor 1 1 8 may include one motor operable to control the reciprocating needle 1 1 2 and a second motor operable to control an X and Y axis movement of sewing head 1 1 0 over the workpiece retention area. In another embodiment, motor 1 1 8 includes one motor operable to control reciprocating needle 1 1 2, a second motor operable to control an X-axis movement of sewing head 1 1 0 over the workpiece retention area, and a third motor operable to control an Y-axis movement of sewing head 1 1 0 over the workpiece retention area. [0032] An encoder can be operably coupled to at least one of the motor 1 1 8 or the reciprocating needle 1 1 2 to monitor the position of the needle relative to the workpiece. The encoder is further connected to the controller and thus provides for an elevation, or Z-axis control of the needle.

[0033] Motor 1 1 6 can be operably coupled to any combination of rails, pulleys, gears, wheels, and belts that operably couple sewing head 1 1 0 to motor 1 1 6 such that motor 1 1 6 can move sewing head 1 1 0 over the work piece retention area and reciprocating needle 1 1 2.

[0034] Examiner 1 20 is operably coupled to controller 1 1 6. Examiner 1 20 includes at least one memory and at least one processor and is operable to receive and store one or a plurality of embroidery designs. In another embodiment, examiner 1 20 is integral with controller 1 1 6. In yet another embodiment, controller 1 1 6 is operable to store and/or receive one or a plurality of embroidery designs, which can be accessed by examiner 1 20. An exemplary embroidery design includes either (i) computer program instructions for a generic embroidery machine that can instruct the generic embroidery machine to create an embroidered stitching design in a workpiece, and (ii) a picture of an embroidered stitch design in a textile (collectively, an embroidery design).

[0035] Examiner 1 20 is operable to examine and analyze an embroidery design to determine stitching instructions for sewing machine 1 06 such that sewing machine 1 06 can create or stitch the embroidery design into workpiece 102. For instance, Examiner 120 can examine an embroidery design that includes machine readable instructions for movement of a workpiece 102 and reciprocating speed of reciprocating needle 112. Examiner 120 is operable to determine from the machine readable instructions movement of sewing head 110 over a stationary workpiece 102 and needle drop locations of reciprocating needle 112 such that quilting machine 100 can create the embroidery design. The determined stitching instructions includes stitch length and needle drop location information for each stitch required by the embroidery design and movement information or instructions for movement of sewing head 110 and reciprocating needle 112 relative to workpiece 102. Examiner 120 can then provide instructions to controller 116 with which encoder 118 and motor 118, upon a user initiation, enables sewing machine 106 to automatically move and stitch with reciprocating needle 112 the analyzed embroidery design in workpiece 102.

[0036] That is, examiner 120 electronically analyzes an electronic representation of a pattern, or instructions for creating such pattern and determines a number of stitches in the pattern. The number of stitches in the pattern is a function of at least the reciprocating speed of reciprocating needle 112 and speed of movement of sewing head 110 relative to workpiece 102. The examiner 120 then calculates a stitch length for each of the stitches in the pattern. Associated with each stitch and stitch length, the examiner 120 determines a drop position for the reciprocating needle 112, a needle drop Nd. While each stitch length is defined by a pair of needle drops Nd it is understood that one needle drop may define one end of two stitches. Thus, the examiner 1 20 can control the stitch length by setting positions on each of the Χ,Υ,Ζ axis. Examiner 1 20 is further operable to add or subtract stitches to an embroidery design based on the area for which a particular embroidery design is meant to be used to stitch and the area in which a user desires to stitch an embroidery design. For example, a particular embroidery design may include 1 00,000 stitches to be stitched in a 1 square foot area of a work piece. Examiner 1 20 is operable to add stitches to the embroidery design such that it retains the same stitch density (e.g., stitches per square inch) for a 3 square foot area of a work piece. Likewise, examiner 1 20 is operable subtract stitches or decrease stitch length should a user desire to stitch the embroidery design in a 0.5 square foot area.

[0037] A predetermined stitch length (such as by virtue of associated needle drops) and position, by virtue of the needle drop along the X,Y axes is calculated by the examiner 1 20 by generating an array of stitch lengths and positions. In one configuration, the examiner 1 20 can be set with a maximum dimension of the stitch length and can then determine the number of stitches, the associated stitch length and needle drops for a given pattern.

[0038] In one configuration, a standard embroidery code is provided or input into the examiner 1 20. The standard code is converted to a vector file and then to a numerical control programming language or G-code (such as RS- 274). The present programing then determines a stitch length and/or needle drop locations.

[0039] In one embodiment, examiner 1 20 is operable to examine and analyze portions of an embroidery design at different time intervals rather than examining and analyzing the entire embroidery design at once. For example, in this embodiment, examiner 1 20 can examine 1 /8 of an embroidery design that is machine readable instructions to determine movement and stitching of sewing head 1 1 0 over a stationary workpiece 1 02 and needle drop locations of reciprocating needle 1 1 2 such that quilting machine 1 00 can create 1 /8 of the embroidery design. Examiner 1 20 is operable then to examine and analyze the embroidery design in 1 /8 increments until the entire embroidery design has been examined, analyzed and stitched. This embodiment enables examiner 1 20 and controller 1 1 6 to examiner, analyze and stitch embroidery designs that include large amounts of data. For instance, the amount of data may either be too large for the at least one processor of examiner 1 20 and too large for at least one memory of examiner 1 20 to perform optimally, or may slow down quilting machine 1 02 to a speed that is undesirable for users. It should be appreciated that example above referred to portions of 1 /8 increments, however, embodiments include dividing embroidery design into any number of fractions that allow quilting machine 1 02 with reciprocating needle 1 1 2 to operate at least at 250-300 stitches/minute. [0040] In another embodiment, examiner 1 20 is operable to examine and analyze an embroidery design such that examiner 1 20 can split, divide or chunk an embroidery design into one or more, or a plurality of sections such that sewing head 1 1 0 and controller 1 1 6 can selectively stitch each one or more section of the embroidery design separately as desired. In this embodiment, the one or more, or plurality of sections in combination represent the entirety of the embroidery design. This embodiment includes the ability for quilting machine 1 02 to provide the user with the option to select which of the one or more sections of the embroidery design to stitch at a time and in which order. This embodiment further prevents the size (i.e., size or capacity of memory needed to maintain the embroidery design) of the embroidery design to act as a limiting factor for controller 1 1 6 to be able to process and stitch an embroidery design. Rather, examiner 1 20 is operable to maintain the plurality of sections such that each one of the plurality of sections is sent to the controller 1 1 6 individually or as groups during the stitching process such that the controller 1 1 6 is operable to maintain the plurality of sections it receives from the examiner 1 20 at a given time. In this regard, embodiments of examiner 1 20 with controller 1 1 6 are operable to automatically (or in response to user input) have individual embroidery sections or groups of embroidery sections sent from examiner 1 20 to controller 1 1 6 (based on the size of the memory needed to maintain the embroidery sections and the memory capacity of controller 1 1 6) such that controller 1 1 6 is operable to maintain the embroidery sections and to have sewing head 1 1 0 stitch the received embroidery sections. Thus, examiner 1 20 is operable to transmit and controller 1 1 6 is operable to receive separate sections of an embroidery design at a plurality of different times such that the received separate sections at a given time internal does not exceed the memory capacity of controller 1 1 6.

[0041 ] For instance, examiner 1 20 can be operable to maintain an embroidery design that includes a plurality of sections totaling over 500,000 stitches. However, controller 1 1 6 may only be able to maintain embroidery designs having 1 50,000 stitches at a given time. Embodiments of this

disclosure provide that examiner 1 20 is operable to send to controller 1 1 6 the plurality of sections of the embroidery design to controller 1 1 6 in groups having less than 1 50,000 stitches such that controller 1 1 6 is able to seamless stitch the entire embroidery design. Thus, embodiments provide that examiner

I 20 is operable to send controller 1 1 6 sections of an examined and divided embroidery design such that the sections are within the capacity (i.e., memory capacity) of controller 1 1 6 to maintain such sections and instruct sewing head

I I 0 to stitch the received sections in a work piece 1 02.

[0042] For example, stitching a work piece can cause shrinking or movement of the portions of the work piece 1 02 that are stitched. Additionally, sections of a work piece 1 02 can move during the embroidery process, especially for the case that the embroidery design is large or covers a large area. For instance, if the embroidery design is a picture of a large tree with a trunk and many leaves, examiner 1 20 is operable to divide the tree into separate sections that allow the sewing head 1 1 0 and/or the user to separately embroider each section of the tree embroidery design. For instance, the trunk, and each of the leaves can be separately embroidered at different times rather than continuously embroidered in a predetermined order. Additionally, this embodiment allows the sewing head 1 1 0 to pause the stitching between completion of stitching one section and beginning stitching another section so as to allow the quilting machine 1 00 (through automated or manual rotation of supply roll assembly 1 1 3 and take up roll assembly 1 1 ) to move work piece 1 02 to compensate for movement or shrinking during stitching. In this regard, quilting machine 1 00 does not require the use of a hoop or removable hoop to maintain a tightness on the embroidered section of the work piece 1 02.

Embodiments provide that the quilting machine 1 00 and/or the user is able adjust the location of work piece 1 02 relative the sewing head 1 1 0 in order to compensate for any movement or shrinkage of work piece 1 02 in response to the section or sections of the embroidery design that have been embroidered into the work piece 1 02.

[0043] Examiner 1 20 is also operable to assign a reference character (e.g., a number or a letter) to identify to each section of the tree embroidery design such that sewing head 1 1 0 can embroider each section associated with each number or letter identifier separately. The reference characters along with each section can be displayed by a display. In one embodiment, the displayed reference characters with corresponding sections allow for user input to determine the order in which each section is to be stitched by sewing head 1 1 0. This embodiment further allows the user to select through controller 1 1 6, as desired, the order in which each section of the split, divided, or chunked embroidery design is stitched into the work piece 1 02.

[0044] Embodiments of examiner 1 20 further provide that examiner 1 20 is operable to determine from an embroidery design (whether machine readable instructions of an embroidery design or an electronic representation of an embroidery pattern) (1 ) movement instructions for sewing head 1 1 0, and (2) needle drop locations such that quilting machine 1 00 is operable to create the embroidery design. The embroidery design examined may include machine readable instructions for movement of a work piece relative to a sewing head along with instructions for increasing or decreasing reciprocating needle as the work piece moves during stitching. Examiner 1 20 is operable to determine movement instructions for sewing head 1 1 0 relative to a stationary work piece 1 02 such that reciprocating needle 1 1 2 speed does not change, but remains constant. In this configuration, examiner 1 20 is operable to determine movement instructions for sewing head 1 1 0, which instructs sewing head 1 1 0 to move and stop at incremental times such that movement occurs when the reciprocating needle 1 1 2 is outside the work piece, and such that movement does not occur when the reciprocating needle 1 1 2 is within the work piece. In another embodiment, examiner 1 20 determines movement instructions for sewing head 1 1 0 such that movement occurs while reciprocating needle 1 1 2 is on the way up and the way down during its reciprocating cycle. Movement of sewing head 1 1 0 does not occur while reciprocating needle 1 1 2 is in the down position. It should be appreciated that embodiments include the examiner 1 20 operable to determine movement instructions for sewing head 1 1 0 relative to a stationary work piece 1 02 such that reciprocating needle 1 1 2 speed does change during the stitching process to accommodate varying stitch lengths between needle drop locations.

[0045] Embodiments of examiner 1 20 provide that it is operable to allow quilting machine 1 00 to embroider examined and analyzed embroidery designs that are within the work piece retention 1 09 or that area larger than the work piece retention area 1 09. For example, if the embroidery design is larger than the work piece retention area 1 09, examiner 1 20 is operable to provide instructions to sewing head 1 1 0, controller 1 1 6, reciprocating needle 1 1 2, encoder 1 1 8, and motor 1 1 8 to stitch within the work piece retention area 1 09. Once the embroidered design within the work piece retention area 1 09 is complete, quilting machine 1 00 with examiner 1 20 is operable to either (1 ) provide the user with instructions for providing new unembroidered portions of the work piece 1 02 to embroider by rotating supply roll assembly 1 1 3 and take up roll assembly 1 1 1 , or (2) automatically cause the supply roll assembly 1 1 3 and take up roll assembly 1 1 1 to rotate to provide new portions of the work piece 1 02 to embroider. In the second embodiment above, quilting machine 1 00 includes one or more motors controlled by controller 1 1 6 operable to rotate supply roll assembly 1 1 3 and take up roll assembly 1 1 1 . In the

embodiment described herein, quilting machine 1 00 is operable to embroider a design without the need of a retention hoop required by all embroidery machines. Embodiments further provide that quilting machine 1 00 is operable to embroider a design that is as large as the work piece itself and larger than the work piece retention area 1 09.

[0046] Reference is now made to FIG. 2 , which presents a perspective view of another configuration of a device suitable for use in practicing exemplary embodiments of this disclosure. Shown in FIG. 2 is quilting machine 1 00 suitable for use in exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure. Shown in FIG. 2 is quilting machine 1 00 with a main frame 1 04, sewing machine 1 06, sewing head 1 1 0, reciprocating needle 1 1 2 , encoder 1 1 7, motor 1 1 5 , motor 1 1 6, controller 1 1 8, and examiner 41 8.

[0047] As can be seen in FIG. 2, sewing machine 1 06 is moveably attached to main frame 1 04 via wheels 1 05 and rails 1 07 that allow sewing machine 1 06 and sewing head 1 1 0 to move over the workpiece retention area in a x-axis direction. Sewing machine 1 06 and sewing head 1 1 0 are also able to move over the workpiece retention area in an y-axis direction through wheels 1 09 and rails 1 1 1 . Sewing head 1 1 0 is thus able to move throughout the workpiece retention area in both an x-axis and y-axis manner by the use of wheel 1 05 , 1 09, and rails 1 07, 1 1 1 .

[0048] Sewing machine 1 06 is operably coupled to motor 1 1 6 through belts 1 1 3. Belts 1 1 3 with motor 1 1 6 are able to move or aid in movement of sewing machine 1 06 in the x-axis direction. Sewing machine 1 06 and sewing head 1 1 0 is also moveably coupled to motor 1 1 5 through belts 1 1 7. Belts 1 1 7 with motor 1 1 5 are able to move or aid in movement of sewing machine 1 06 in the y-axis direction. Motor 1 1 5 and motor 1 1 6 are operably coupled to controller 1 1 8 such that controller 1 1 8 is operable to control movement of sewing head 1 1 0.

[0049] In practice, examiner 41 8 can examine an embroidery design (or stitching design) to determine the needle drop location of the reciprocating needle 1 1 2 to determine a stitch length of each stitch. It is further

contemplated that each stitch will have a length defined by sequential needle drops. Then controller 1 1 8 is operable to automatically move with motor 1 1 5 and motor 1 1 6 sewing head 1 1 0 and reciprocating needle 1 1 2 over the workpiece retention area to stitch the embroidery design into the workpiece.

[0050] Reference is now made to FIG. 3, which illustrates a simplified block diagram of various elements of a quilting machine suitable for use in practicing the exemplary embodiments of this disclosure. Shown in FIG. 3 is quilting machine 302 configured for stitching and embroidering a workpiece. Embodiments of quilting machine 302 can include a quilting machine and a longarm quilting machine.

[0051 ] Quilting machine 302 includes processing means such as controller 304, which includes at least one data processor 306, storing means such as a computer-readable memory 308 storing a computer program 31 0 including computer program instructions. Controller 304, data processor 306, and computer-readable memory 308 with computer program 31 0 provide a mechanism to (i) examine an embroidery design, and (ii) automatically embroider a workpiece with the examined embroidery design. Embodiments of controller 304 include a motion controller for operably controlling movement of quilting machine 302.

[0052] Quilting machine 302 includes a sewing head 31 2 for stitching a workpiece and a motor 31 4 operably connected to the controller 304 and the sewing head 31 4 such as by belts, pulleys, gear racks, friction drives, ball screws, linear motors, and/or chains. Controller 304 is able to control the output of motor 31 4. Motor 31 4 is able to control the movement of sewing head 31 2 by activating belts or motorized wheels/rollers.

[0053] Sewing head 31 2 also includes a reciprocating needle 31 6 operably connected to controller 304 and motor 31 4. The movement of sewing head 31 2 and cycle frequency of reciprocating needle 31 6 is controlled by motor 31 4 and in turn determined by controller 304. In another embodiment, motor 31 4 only controls the cycle frequency of reciprocating needle 31 6 and a second motor 31 5 (not shown) is operably coupled to sewing head 31 2 to move sewing head 31 2 over a workpiece retention area.

[0054] Quilting machine 302 also includes examiner 31 2 for examining an embroidery design. Examiner 31 8 is operable to examine an embroidery design (including embroidery machine instructions and/or a photo or image of an embroidered design) and is also operably coupled to controller 304, data processor 306 and computer-readable memory 308 such that examiner 31 8 is able to transmit stitching data (including movement instructions of sewing head and reciprocating instructions of reciprocating needle 31 6) to controller 304 to instruct motor 31 4 to make sewing head 31 2 with reciprocating needle 31 6 embroider the examined embroidery design in a workpiece. Embodiments of examiner 31 8 are operable to examine stored embroidery designs located in computer-readable memory 308. Embodiments of examiner 31 8 are able to receive embroidery designs from the internet or other devices (e.g., computers, laptops, mobile devices, tablets, storage devices, and USB sticks) through wired or wireless connections.

[0055] The quilting machine 302 includes encoder 320 to encode a sensed movement information of sewing head 31 4 and reciprocating needle 31 6 relative to a workpiece. Encoder 320 is operably connected to sewing head 31 4 and reciprocating needle 31 6 as well as controller 304, data processor 306, and motor 31 4. Encoder 320 may include a first encoder, a second encoder, and a third encoder, wherein the first encoder encodes the sensed movement information of sewing head 31 4 in an x-axis direction, the second encoder encodes the sensed movement information of sewing head 31 4 in an y-axis direction, and the third encoder encodes the sensed movement information of reciprocating needle 31 6.

[0056] Quilting machine 302 further includes an operational on/off switch 31 8 for selectively operating controller 304, motor 31 4, and examiner 31 2. In some embodiments, on/off switch 31 8 is a physical switch located on quilting machine 302 that can be operated by hand.

[0057] The at least one computer program 31 0 in quilting machine 302 in exemplary embodiments is a set of program instructions that, when executed by the associated processor 308, enable quilting machine 302 to operate in accordance with exemplary embodiments of this disclosure. In these regards, the exemplary embodiments of this disclosure may be implemented at least in part by computer software stored in computer-readable memory 308, which is executable by processor 306. Devices implementing these aspects of the disclosure need not be the entire device as depicted in FIG. 3, but may be one or more components of same such as the above described tangibly stored software, hardware, and processor.

[0058] FIG. 4 presents a summary of the above teachings for examining an embroidery design and embroidering a workpiece. Block 402 presents (a) examining, by an apparatus, a stitching design; (b) determining, by the apparatus, a needle drop location of each stitch of the stitching design; and (c) stitching, by the apparatus, the stitching design into a work piece based on the determined needle drop location, wherein the stitching comprises continuously moving a sewing head of the apparatus relative to the work piece. Then block 404 specifies wherein the stitching design is an electronic embroidery design.

[0059] Some of the non-limiting implementations detailed above are also summarized at FIG. 4 following block 404. Block 406 relates to wherein the apparatus is a quilting machine. Block 408 further specifies wherein the sewing head comprises a reciprocating needle for stitching having a reciprocating cycle, and an encoder for regulating a location of the reciprocating needle in its reciprocating cycle. Then block 41 0 relates to the method further comprising displaying, by a display, the stitching design on the work piece.

[0060] Thus, exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure provide an apparatus that can automatically examine a stitching design (or an embroidery design) and then stitch examined design into a workpiece.

[0061 ] Referring to FIG. 5, shown is an exemplary logic flow diagram in accordance with exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure. Block 502 states (a) examining, by an examiner, an embroidery design, wherein the examiner is operably coupled to a controller and a sewing head, and wherein the controller comprises a memory having a capacity, and wherein the controller is operable to cause the sewing head to stitch a work piece; (b) determining, by the examiner, a needle drop location of each stitch of the embroidery design; (c) dividing, by the examiner, the examined embroidery design into a plurality of separate sections; (d) transmitting the plurality of separate sections at a plurality of different times to the controller such that the plurality of separate sections do not exceed the capacity of the memory at any one of the plurality of different times; and (e) in response to the controller, stitching, by the sewing head, the plurality of separate sections into the work piece based on the determined needle drop location. Next block 504 indicates the method further comprising pausing the stitching between completion of stitching at least one of the plurality of separate sections..

[0062] Following block 504, block 506 relates to wherein the embroidery design is an electronic embroidery design. Block 508 specifies wherein the sewing head comprises a reciprocating needle for stitching having a

reciprocating cycle, and an encoder for regulating a location of the

reciprocating needle in its reciprocating cycle. Finally, block 51 0 states the method further comprising displaying, by a display, the plurality of separate sections, and assigning a reference character to each one of the plurality of separate sections, wherein each reference character is an identifier for one of the plurality of separate sections. Embodiments provide that block 51 0 can be operably performed prior to the selecting step found in block 502.

[0063] The logic diagrams of FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 may be considered to illustrate the operation of a method, and a result of execution of computer program instructions stored in a computer-readable memory, and a specific manner in which components of an electronic device are configured to cause that electronic device to operate, whether such an electronic device is a quilting machine or some other device, or one or more components thereof. The various blocks shown in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 may also be considered as plurality of coupled logic circuit elements constructed to carry out the associated

function(s), or specific result of strings of computer program instructions or code stored in a memory. [0064] Various elements of the computer-readable memory or computer- readable medium include any data storage technology type which is suitable to the local technical environment, including but not limited to semiconductor based memory devices, magnetic memory devices and systems, optical memory devices and systems, fixed memory, removable memory, disc memory, flash memory, dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), static random-access memory (SRAM), electronically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) and the like. Various embodiments of the processor include, but are not limited to general purpose computers, special purpose computers, microprocessors, digital signal processors and multi-core processors.

[0065] The invention has been described in detail with particular reference to a presently preferred embodiment, but it will be understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the invention. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore considered in all respects to be illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is indicated by the appended claims, and all changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalents thereof are intended to be embraced therein.