Looking to pick up a commercial embroidery machine for hats? These machines are top notch but still affordable for a small business.
SWF 12 Needle – $9,999
The SWF 12 is likely the cheapest multi needle machine you’ll find with 12 needles. Not only do you get 12 needles for under $10,000, but you also get everything you need to start your hat embroidery business!
That’s because the SWF12 is fully equipped with a cap driver, 10 hoops, and a stand for the machine. While you’d think every machine that costs $10,000+ would come with these things – they don’t.
Most machines force you to buy these things separate, and a cap driver alone can cost $1,000+ on top of what you’re already paying for the machine – so it’s a pretty great bonus.
In addition to caps, the slender free arm for this machine allows you to easily embroider on other notoriously difficult items like gloves, socks, sleeves, pockets, etc. should you want to expand your business offerings later.
The machine features a generous 13″ x 8″ embroidery area, which is plenty big enough for nearly any project, and it will allow you to embroider all the way around your hats – creating impressive pieces for your clients.
You’ll also be able to embroider at up to 1,000 stitches per minute, but slow the machine down for detailed jobs or delicate threads like metallic.
So, what’s bad about the SWF12? Well, some people complain in their SWF reviews that the documentation for the machine is not as good as it could be. All machines have a learning curve, but this one is maybe not as easy to learn as it could be. Though if you’re willing to learn – you could save a lot of money compared to other machines.
Bernina E16 by Melco – $13,995
Another big name in commercial embroidery is Melco, and this affordable BerninaE16 is actually a re-branded machine that is made by Melco – offering small businesses a cheaper entry point.
This machine is a 16 needle, it has a 15.74″ x 13.77″ embroidery area, and it stitches at a speedy 1,400 Stitches per minute – a very noticeable improvement over the SWF machine.
In addition, this machine also comes with a cap driver, multiple hoops, DesignShop Editor software, a stand, and even an Isacord thread starter kit. The design shop editor software alone sells for $650 by itself, and you’d likely pay about $900 for the cap driver if you were to buy it separately.
The machine itself is excellent, and unlike SWF, Bernina has lots of online video tutorials and documentation to help you learn how to use the machine.
Tajima Sai – $9,999
While SWF and Melco are both respected names in embroidery – Tajima is even bigger. Shops everywhere will rave about how fantastic their commercial Tajima rigs are and this machine is no different.
The Sai is a bit more compact, but it is no less capable and reviewers have compared its quality to that of full-size machines that cost twice as much money.
This is an 8 needle machine, which is still plenty for most customization jobs, and the 8″ x 12″ embroidery area is perfect for customizing most items a shop would want to sell.
In addition, Tajima has excellent documentation, making it easy to learn to use the machine, and since they are the most respected name in commercial embroidery – finding someone to service it will never be an issue.
Feature-wise, you can expect this machine to have the same functions as the SWF machine, but it does not come with a cap driver. You’ll need to purchase this separately, which could add $2,500 to the purchase price.
However, you do get Tajima’s Writer PLUS software for free. You can use this for on-screen editing, importing designs and creating custom text for customization jobs. It also includes 1,300 pre-installed designs you can use – which can be useful for some work, like for sports teams or clubs.
Let’s get crafting!