best multi needle embroidery machines for small business

Ready to level up your small business? Investing in even a cheaper multi-needle embroidery machine can help you fill more orders in less time. But which one should you choose? Price is obviously a big factor, but here’s a few other things to consider.

What to know before buying a multi-needle embroidery machine

What features do you need?

Not all multi-needle embroidery machines are created equal! Cheaper machines, and especially many multi-needle embroidery machines for home use may not have all the features you need. For example, while they are excellent machines, you can NOT install a cap driver on the Janome MB7 and Janome MB4.

They instead use a standard hoop for hats, and if you plan to do a lot of more advanced hat embroidery for your business, this could severely limit you. Paying a bit more for a machine with an actual free arm set up will allow you to embroider all the way across structured hats, on socks, sleeves, pockets, or bulkier items, a lot easier.

Are you choosing a proven brand?

While it can be tempting to purchase a cheaper knock-off machine, it can be near impossible to find someone to service them. That means you’ll need to be comfortable doing all the maintenance and repairs on it yourself. In addition, as I covered in my “what to know before upgrading your embroidery machine article” – they can also be very hard to sell if you need to upgrade later.

How many colors are your typical designs?

If you mostly embroider 2-3 color logos on shirts for local businesses, then a cheaper 4 needle machine may do the job just fine. But, if you do more elaborate custom work, a 4 needle machine could mean that you are still changing threads quite frequently, eating into your time. If cost is a factor, a 6 or 7 needle machine is a good happy medium.

Even if you decide you do need a machine with more needles later, it’s easy to re-sell your machine as long as you’ve purchased a quality brand. Used multi-needle machines are always in-demand.

best multi needle embroidery machines for small business or home business

SWF MAS 12 – $9,999

The SWF MAS 12 is an exceptional deal for a 12 needle embroidery machine, offering plenty of options for keeping your most used thread colors ready to go. It’s also compact, making it a great choice if you are running your business from home, or from a smaller shop where there is not a lot of room. The machine weighs only 85 pounds, so if you’re keen to do custom work at events – the SWF 12 could be a real money maker on the road.

best multi needle embroidery machine for small home business
Pictured: SWF MAS 12 with cap driver, ready to embroider a hat.

This machine has a 13″ x 8″ embroidery field, large enough to cover most any project. This machine also has a dedicated free arm, and it allows you to install a cap driver as seen in the picture above. The machine also operates at a speedy 1,000 stitches per minute, making short work of orders.

We talked about features and accessories earlier, but it’s also important to realize that while a machine may have a certain feature, it does not mean that it includes the accessories to use them! In some cases, you could end up spending hundreds more on frames, cap drivers, stands, etc. but the SWF12 comes with pretty much everything you need, making it an even more attractive machine.

However, the SWF MAS 12 also has another pretty interesting feature! It has “photo stitch” and “hand stitch” abilities. The first allows you to upload a photo and instantly convert it to embroidery, and the second allows you to use a stylist to draw designs on the touch-pad.

Video: Photo Stitch on an SWF machine from start to finish.

Features Break Down

  • 13″ x 8″ embroidery area
  • 12 needles
  • 1,000 SPM
  • Photo Stitch and Hand Stitch technology
  • Cap driver, frames, stand, and hoops included
  • Freehand stitch function
  • Automatic thread trimming
  • USB networking

So, what complaints do people have about the SWF MAS 12? Well, it has a bit of a learning curve, and documentation is a bit sparse. It does not have the same brand recognition as Tajiima or Brother, and that means there’s just less tutorials online. However, it is a great machine and a fantastic deal if you’re not afraid to learn how it works.

Click here to get the best price on the SWF MAS 12

Tajima Sai – $9,999

Tajima is pretty much the go-to brand in the world of commercial machine embroidery. Techs everywhere will service them, customer service is great, and there is plenty of documentation and tutorials out there to help you learn, including videos and help guides from the company.

the sai is cheapest multi needle embroidery machine for hats

The Tajima Sai is one of the most affordable models around, and this 8 needle machine has a lot to offer for the price. Similar to the SWF 12, this machine is also lightweight and compact at 82 pounds, making it a contender if you want a machine that is portable.

The 12″ x 8″ embroidery field is slightly smaller than the SWF MAS 12, but not by much, and the machine is a bit slower at 800 stitches per minute as well.

This machine also allows you to install a cap driver, but it is not typically included. You’ll need to purchase this separately if you want to do hats, but the free arm can also be used as is for small, hard to embroider items like gloves, socks, pockets, sleeves, etc.

The Sai also comes with Tajima Writer PLUS software. This embroidery digitization software allows you to convert text to embroidery, manipulate designs, manage thread colors, and includes base designs you can use for customization. Tajima also provides tutorials you can download for this software as well.

Features Break Down

  • 12″ x 8″ embroidery area
  • 8 needles
  • 800 SPM
  • Easy to use, lots of documentation available
  • Slim free arm for small items (gloves, socks, sleeves)
  • Can use cap driver (Not included)
  • Includes Tajima Writer PLUS embroidery software
  • USB networking
  • Auto thread trimming
  • Laser positioning system

While the Tajima Sai seems like a lesser deal compared to the SWF MAS 12, it really is hard to beat Tajima’s quality. The machine is a work horse, and realistically, you likely won’t often need more than 8 colors anyway.

Click here to get the best price on the Tajima Sai 8

Bernina E16 – $13,995

But what if you DO need more needles, and a lot of them? If that’s the case, then you may also consider the Bernina E16 PLUS. This is actually a re-branded Melco machine, another excellent commercial embroidery brand.

best multi needle embroidery machine

This is a 16 needle machine that also offers a 15.7″ x 13.77″ embroidery area, which is quite a bit larger than the Tajima or SWF. It’s also a LOT faster as well, clocking 1,400 stitches per minute, which can be a big deal if you’re filling a lot of orders.

You may also be interested to know that this machine is capable of creating chenille, commonly only available on much more expensive machines, and it can also do quilt stitches.

While the E16 is definitely an investment, it’s a pretty great one if your business is growing quickly and you need a machine with true commercial production capabilities. This machine has a lot of premium features for the price tag.

Features Break Down

  • 15.7″ x 13.77″ embroidery area
  • 16 needles
  • 1,400 SPM
  • Slim free arm for small items (gloves, socks, sleeves)
  • automatic tension adjustments
  • Fancy stitches/micro chenille
  • Extra large cap embroidery field
  • Laser alignment positioning
  • multi-head/single-head networking
  • Includes stand, several hoops, and thread kit
  • DesignShop v11 EDITOR included

The only negative I’d say is that this machine is not the one for you if you plan to do work at events and need something portable. It weighs almost 200 pounds.

Click here to get the best price on the Bernina E16