Looking for an embroidery machine to start a small business? Choosing a machine can be a daunting task, but in this article we’ll talk about budgets, expectations, and needs so you can choose a machine that’s both within your budget and right for your business!
SWF MAS 12 – $9,999
The SWF MAS 12 is one of the best deals around in commercial embroidery machines. Getting 12 needles for a hair under 10k is a fantastic deal, and SWF makes high-quality, reliable equipment.
In addition, the machine is compact, making it a great pick if you’re running your business from home or a small shop, AND it comes with pretty much everything you need! While most other machines force you to purchase hoops and cap drivers separately, the SWF MAS comes fully equipped and ready to embroider any jobs you can throw at it.
A cap driver alone can cost more than $1,000! So, that’s a pretty great bonus. The SWF 12 includes the cap driver, a stand, and 10 hoops to help you get your embroidery business off the ground without additional expense. In addition to caps, the slender free arm cylinder allows you easily embroider on sleeves, gloves, pockets, socks, and more.
This machine also has a large 13″ x 8″ embroidery area, plenty big enough to tackle any projects you’d need to complete, and it hums along at 1,000 stitches per minute.
The machine includes all your typical multi-needle features like automatic jump stitch trimming, but it also has some more unusual features – like the ability to instantly convert photos into embroidery and a hand stitch features which lets you draw designs on the touchpad.
So, what are the negatives to an SWF machine? Well, unfortunately, the learning curve is a bit steeper. If you read through the SWF reviews, you’ll see that documentation can be lacking. This doesn’t mean the machine is bad, just that you’ll need to put in more work for those savings by way of learning how the machine works yourself and hunting for answers.
SWF machines also don’t have the same brand recognition as Tajima or Brother, so there are less online tutorials as well. However, the machine is a fantastic deal if you’re willing to put in the work to use. BUT, if you’re not tech savvy… you may want to move on to our next pick.
Tajima Sai 8 – $9,999
The Tajima Sai has less needles than the SWF machine for the same price – so why would I recommend it!? Well, it’s because Tajima is the biggest name in commercial embroidery and being able to own one for under $10,000 is still a steal.
8 needles is still plenty to handle pretty much any custom embroidery you need to do, and the machine has a similarly sizes 8″ x 12″ embroidery area to work with, and while it’s slower at 800 stitches per minute, it has two things SWF does not – brand recognition and better documentation.
Why is brand recognition important? Because more people make tutorials for the machine. The Sai 8 is a very popular embroidery machine model and that means there’s plenty of help online if you get stuck. For this reason, it’s a better beginner multi needle machine than the SWF. Tajima also has tons of their own documentation and videos available to help you learn as well.
Features-wise, the Tajima is much the same as the SWF machine, but it does not come with all the accessories. It doesn’t come with the cap driver, which could run you an additional $2,500.
It does, however, come with Tajima’s Writer PLUS software. This software allows you to perform on-screen editing tasks, import designs, and create text/design combinations for customization jobs. It also includes over 1,300 pre-installed designs, useful for things like sports team or club jobs.
Bernina E16 – $13,995
Need even more needles? The Bernina E16 PLUS is a 16 needle machine that can do a lot for the price. It’s actually a re-branded Melco machine, another quality embroidery brand that usually costs a lot more money. So, while not the cheapest multi needle machine you can get, it is, in fact still a great bargain for everything that it offers.
The huge 15.7″ x 13.77″ embroidery area included with this machine allows you to do impressive custom jobs that will delight clients, and it can also do chenille embroidery, which is typically a feature reserved for much pricier machines. It’s also much faster than either of the other machines on the list at 1,400 stitches per minute, making short work of big orders.
This machine also includes Melco’s Design Shop EDITOR software. With this software, you can:
- Check designs for errors before production
- Get realistic 3D renderings of your embroidery
- Use letter compensation for more consistent quality
- Get OFM file support (Which is superior to DST)
- Use barcodes to organize designs
- Digitize simple shapes and borders
- Creae stipple fill
- Create stitch effects
- and more
You can do a lot with this free software, but it is not a full digitization suite, which requires an upgrade. However, it’s great for most customization jobs, and it’ll definitely get you started.
Tanya is a stay at home mom who blogs online to earn a bit of extra income from her hobbies. She also loves working on projects which she can involve her two kids in and teach them the valuable life-skill of sewing.