Searching for the best multi needle embroidery machine to grow your small business? A multi-needle offers many benefits vs a single needle, but with so many machines to compare, the buying process can be intimidating. This is especially true if you’re not very experienced or tech savvy.
That’s why, in this article, I’ve not only include my top picks for the best multi needle embroidery machines on the market, but also everything you need know before you buy ANY embroidery machine, multi needle or not!
What to know before choosing a machine
Will you be able to get the machine serviced?
While brand name isn’t always important in some industries, in machine embroidery it is. Choosing a less reliable or even a lesser known brand can have a lot of consequences you may not immediately realize.
For starters, even if a machine is otherwise great, if it’s a more obscure brand you may not be able to find techs in your area to service it! This is a disaster for an inexperienced embroidery machine operator, and for this reason alone I’d recommend you stick with a reliable and well-known brand such as Tajima, Brother, etc.
While it’s possible to get a multi needle embroidery machine for much cheaper going with a knock off brand – when it comes to maintenance and service – you typically have to do it yourself! So, if you don’t know how to service the machine, you could end up with a very expensive door stopper.
Is there enough instructions and documentation?
Some brands just provide better documentation than others. This is very important for a beginner, because there’s a definite learning curve to using a multi needle embroidery machine.
Choosing a brand like Tajima or Brother that offers a lot of support and has lots of online video tutorials is a good move, even if you’re spending a bit more. However, that’s not to say you can’t figure out how to use a machine which is lacking in documentation – it’ll just take more effort on your part.
Will you re-sell the machine later?
Another pitfall of purchasing a cheaper knock-off machine is that it can be very hard to sell them later if you need to upgrade. Most dealers will not buy them due to their reputation, and even the company who makes it will not buy it back in most cases.
how much machine can you realistically afford?
Multi needle embroidery machine prices start at around $4,000, but it’s easy to pay $10,000 or even $15,000 for a professional machine. Used can be cheaper, but you’ll need to pay cash, whereas you can often finance a new machine at the dealer and pay monthly.
Best Multi Needle Embroidery Machine: Top Picks
Okay, now that we’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, here are my top picks for multi needle machines.
SWF MAS 12 –
If you’re looking for the best value in multi-needle embroidery machines, I definitely think the SWF MAS 12 is it. But, why would you purchase this machine over something cheaper like the Janome MB4?
In short, the MB4 doesn’t have near the same capabilities as the SWF MAS 12, and if you’re looking for a serious multi-needle machine for your business that can handle every task you throw at it and not break the bank – this machine is a serious contender.
Unlike cheaper multi needle machines, which are ALL flat beds, the SWF 12 is a real, free arm capable multi needle embroidery machine. This means that tasks like embroidering around the entire face of a fitted cap, embroidering on sleeves, shoes, and bulky bags are no problem for this machine.
This machine also has a much large 8″ x 13″ embroidery area, and it has 12 needles. Most other machines in this price range cap out a 6-8 needles, making the SWF 12 a great deal.
Another benefit of the SWF 12 you may miss at first glance is that it comes with all of the accessories you need! While you’d think every machine should come with the stuff you need to use all its features, they don’t.
Yes, that’s right, after spending $10,000 on a machine, they still expect you to buy the accessories separately as well. This can easily means $1,500 in additional spend on things like cap drivers, stands, etc. But, the SWF 12 comes with all the hoops, cap driver, a stand, etc.
Other features includes a swift 1,000 stitches per minute embroidery speed, automatic thread trimming, smart software that automatically transforms photos into embroidery for your customers, upper and lower thread sensors, adjustable embroidery speed, and a free-hand stitch function that allows you hand draw designs on the LCD screen.
So, what’s not great about the SWF 12? The documentation for the machine is not the best, and that means spending more of your time diving into the machine’s settings to learn how it works. It’s also not as popular as Tajima, Brother, or Janome branded machines, so there are less user-generated tutorials on YouTube as well.
BUT, if you’re willing to spend the time to learn the machine, it’s a fantastic deal for everything it offers.
Is the SWF 12 a bit out of your price range? That’s okay, because thanks to a recent price drop – The Elna 940 is now the most affordable multi needle embroidery machine on the market!
Previously, this machine was on-par with the better known Janome MB4, but now, it seems its parent company, which is in fact Janome itself has positioned the machine as a value brand – which is good news for small business owners.
With the Elna 940 4 needle machine, you can have four thread colors loaded and ready to go for any project. If you plan to do a lot of simple business logo customization for things like polo shirts, this machine is a great buy.
You’ll also get a large 9.46″ x 7.88″ embroidery area, which is sizeable enough to tackle most larger embroidery projects for sweatshirts and jackets as well!
In addition, the Elna 940 also includes an automatic thread cutter (with programmable jump thread trimming!), an upper thread sensor, monogramming functions, a bobbin thread sensor, on-screen editing for your custom embroidery orders, and all the accessories you’ll need to get started.
However, you should keep in mind that the reason this machine is so affordable is that it is a flat bed machine. That means you’ll be limited to the same kinds of embroidery projects you’d be able to do on a standard single needle machine.
For a lot of embroidery projects, this is not a problem. But, if you want to embroider on more unique items like stuffed animals, sleeves, structured hats, socks, bulky bags, or pockets – it’ll be difficult on this machine.
So, before you buy it – be honest with yourself about the kinds of projects you’ll be doing both now and in the future. Will a flat bed be sufficient? Or, should you save up for a free arm machine?
More Needles Less Money
Elna 970- $4,999
Looking for something affordable that has more needles than the 940, but not as pricey as the SWF 12? The Elna 970 could be the right fit for you then.
For a $1,000 up charge, the Elna 970 offers 7 needles to the 940’s 4! However, that’s really the only upgrade you’ll be getting, it seems pretty much all the features and even the embroidery area are identical to the 940.
Tajima Sai – $9,999
Need a machine that’s a little more serious? The Tajima Sai not only offers twice as many needles as the 940, but it also offers you the ability to do more advanced embroidery for your home or small business.
With the Sai, you have the option to install a cap driver. This is the accessory that rotates on the free arm and allows you to embroider all the way across the front of a hat. In addition, you can also use the slender free arm to embroider on all kinds of items that flat beds struggle with such as gloves, socks, pockets, sleeves, etc.
This machine also offers a larger 12″ x 8″ embroidery area, allowing you to tackle more elaborate and high cost jobs. Though the speed of the machine is the same at 800 stitches per minute.
Tajima is one of the best known brands in commercial embroidery. This machine is their entry into the home and home business market, and it’s an exceptionally well made machine.
But, they also offer great support, lots of tutorials and videos to help you learn to use the machine, and pretty much any shop will be able to service a Tajima. Likewise, due to Tajima’s excellent reputation, if you ever need to upgrade your machine, selling any Tajima later will be easy.
Bernina E16 PRO – $16,495
The Bernina E16 is a re-branded Melco machine, and Melco is an industry favorite. Their machines offer top of the line and very pricey features, but if you want the best for your business… this is where you’ll get it.
For starters, it has a huge 15.7″ x 13.77″ embroidery area and 16 needles. This combo will allow you to tackle pretty much any embroidery project imaginable, offering you more customization options for your customers, and you the ability to stand out when it comes to your product offering.
This machine is also much faster than any of the other machines on our list at 1,400 stitches per minute, and it has a scalable multi-head system. What this means is that as your business grows you can network the machines together so they can perform as either a single or multi head machine depending on your needs.
The E16 also has a narrow arm, allowing you to customize items both big and small quickly and without issues, and you can even do specialty embroidery such as 3D chenille, and many advances features that just results in a better finished product. Such as the laser alignment system, and Bernina’s precise thread delivery system.
With this machine you’ll also enjoy having the largest embroidery size in the market for hats, a super smooth professional thread tension system, automatic thread trimming, applique functions, and needed accessories.
The Accessories included with the PRO version include a stand, assorted hoops, cap driver, wide-angle cap frames, and an Isacord thread starter kit.
In closing, choosing the right multi needle embroidery machine for your small business is a tough job! And, it can be pretty costly to do so. However, there are some great deals out there if you look hard enough!
Let’s get crafting!