Comparing Professional Embroidery Machines
The differences in the top 5 Single Head Machines on the Market
Choosing the right professional embroidery machine to start your new business, or expand your existing one, will make a real difference in your success. There are several things about commercial machines in general, and the ones reviewed below in particular, that may not make a difference in your business to start but will have a HUGE impact as you grow.
STOP! Yes, it’s hard not to skip ahead and just read through the table that compares features below, but you really need a foundation in what each “Feature” is, it’s usefulness and how it compares to the rest before you get to actual comparisons.
But if you DO want to skip the work and just talk to a professional who can explain it all, you can just click on the graphic on the right. ColDesi account managers have decades worth of experience in helping people choose the best machine for the job and for the business.
We’ll be reviewing not only the machines and features, but the brands themselves and the companies that sell them. There are several different distribution strategies that manufacturer’s use, and which one they chose makes a difference. Support, Training and Warranty options are also HUGE factors in the long term success of your business. Many small businesses never get off the ground because they don’t understand their machines!
- Most embroidery machines made for business share the same features, but may or may not emphasize particular things in their marketing. For example;
- They will all embroider on caps, but cap frames may or may not be included
- A stand it typically available or included
- They all have some kind of tracing/laser option
- Each will usually have a “table” for embroidering on heavy items like jackets, blankets, etc., some include them free and some do not.
- ALL will do 3D text and small lettering – it’s just a matter of if specific fonts are included or not and the quality of the small fonts.
All of these machines also qualify as commercial monogram machines, but are an improvement over the 6 or 10 needle monogram machines because of their larger sewing field, their more commercial construction and their capacity for 15 needles. In fact, the Avancé machine comes with Sierra embroidery software that includes pre-digitized monogram fonts.
Read on for their actual differences!
5 Important Features
Top 5 embroidery machine product features that make the most difference:
- # of Needles
- Sewing Field Size
- Ability to do Caps
- Software Included
Training and Support
Training and Resources you should look for:
- Training – online and offline
- Education – videos, books +
- Quality Technical Support
- Industry Connections
Start Up MUST Haves
5 Things you MUST get in your startup package:
- Hoops, hoops, hoops, the more the better
- Supply start up kit – backings, thread, bobbins +++
- Embroidery Designs – as many as possible
- Digitizing/Embroidery software
- Rolling Stand
Comparing Brands and Manufacturers
The Tajima Brand
The Tajima brand has a great reputation in the marketplace as a solid professional product.
Not known for flash or fancy features, the Tajima promises good performance over the long run.
The downside to the Tajima brand is in its pricing. While certainly a good and respected product it is almost $4,000 more than the AVERAGE price of the 5 products we’re comparing.
That’s at least 30% premium for the Tajima name.
Melco has changed ownership recently and now shares it’s product line with a consumer line of embroidery machines. Careful with distribution here – make sure if you buy from a home sewing and vacuum sales outlet that you get training.
The Melco emt16 has an appealing look, somewhere between the consumerish packaging of the Brother Entrepreneur Pro and the more industrial Avancé and Tajima brands. The pricing is also attractive at slightly under the average here.
The biggest drawback may be that the Table Attachment is optional – makes doing large items more difficult and adds to the complete product price.
The Brother PR1000e, or Entrepreneur Pro, is a consumer embroidery machine that has been positioned as an entry into the commercial marketplace. Unfortunately, even with a beautiful LCD menu screen and some clever features, it lack some of the very basics.
The smallest sewing field, lack of included supplies, no hoops included, no stand, only 10 needles as opposed to 15+, no trade in, only a 2 year warranty, ++++.
In fact, the only reason this unit is included in the comparison is because of its retail price, at almost $12K, and Brother’s attempt at roping in new embroidery entrepreneurs with the name.
SWF is a great, highly regarded and reliable brand of product that is normally compared with the Tajima. In fact, one of the company’s main selling points is that you can get the quality of the Tajima line for 15-20% less money.
The best features of the SWF are the quick change cap system, which is an easy way to change from flats to caps, the best training and support options and that it comes with Stitch Era Universal (SEU) software + 4400 free designs.
The downside list to SWF is small. The first is that delivery times can be long, the second is that it’s actually bolted to the stand so no table top operations, and the 3rd is that it comes with a 100% trade up, but only for the first year.
The Avancé is the new comer to the market compared to the others, but it has hit the sweet spot for price, reliability and the whole package.
The brand has a big advantage in that it has ColDesi behind it, the premier distributor for the SWF brand for more than a decade.
The biggest advantages are the 100% trade up guarantee for TWO YEARS as well as a 5 year warranty.
In addition, you get 4400 designs, great training, the same software and start up package as the SWF. A large sewing field, metal stand, 2 million stitch memory and 15 needle design all scream high quality, professional embroidery machine.
Why Sewing Field Matters
5 Projects that Sewing Field Size make a HUGE Impact
There are several pricing models used by embroidery professionals, but they all have one thing in common; the bigger the design, the bigger the price. The bigger the price, if you do your match correctly, the bigger your paycheck is at the end of the job.
A larger sewing field, like the one on the
Avancé 1501C 15 needle machine, means that you can make more money with every job. But this is MOST evident when you are doing projects like a jacket back. Jacket backs are very popular and profitable projects for embroidery. Here are just a few examples on when you might want to do a large design on a jacket:
- Letterman Jackets
- Baseball club windbreakers
- Golf jackets
- Motorcycle club jackets and vests
- Sports Jackets
Not only is a large sewing field a money maker from a per stitch charge perspective, but it also may WIN you jobs you would otherwise turn away. For example, if your main competitor was using an Amaya XTS machine and you had the
Avancé, you could offer a 45% LARGER DESIGN. Which do you think a customer would prefer?
Speak to a real professional about which is the right system for your business now by calling the number at the top of the screen or contacting ColDesi here.
Where You BUY your embroidery machine matters
There’s a difference between how you use a system for home or hobby use, obviously, and what kind of dealership you buy from as well.
There are really 3 kinds of distribution strategies that commercial manufacturers are using in today’s marketplace:
1. Sewing Center Sales
2. Regional distribution
3. Single Point
Sewing Centers are the places where many professionals that started as hobbyists get interested in embroidery as a business. They have classes on embroidery, sewing, quilting and crafts and often sell very expensive, higher end equipment for those purposes. The advantage to sewing centers is that you have a built in supportive community. BUT, a community of hobbyists and consumer equipment is probably not going to be helpful in starting an actual contract or custom embroidery business. The EMT16 from Melco Amaya, for example, is distributed in this way.
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BUY YOUR BUSINESS EQUIPMENT WHERE YOU CAN ALSO GET A GOOD DEAL ON A VACUUM FOR YOUR HOME?
Regional Distribution can come in several forms, mostly depending on the size of the regions. Fundamentally, these are companies that only sell commercial equipment, are used to dealing with and supporting commercial customers. The different forms come with how large the region is and whether or not they are exclusive. A regional distributor for Brother, for example, might sell all of their equipment brands and may just be an embroidery system distributor as part of the package. The biggest disadvantage in some of these businesses is that you will be dealing iwth their local shop instead of corporate for support – this could be an advantage as well depending on the reputation of the manufacturer.
Single Point Distribution are where the manufacturer selects, or develops for itself, a single sales and support arm for its product. Basically, you are shopping at what amounts to a Factory Store. Imagine buying a car or appliance directly from the maker without having to go through a local dealer. Everyone you deal with will be an expert, or at least will be focused on the product you’re purchasing.
You also get dedicated, well trained support personnel and, usually, better training and service options as well. Pricing for equipment sold in the Single Point Distribution model is normally better than with the other strategies because your closer to the supply chain origin. The fewer middle men between you and the product, the better the fewer times the items is marked up.
ColDesi, Inc. is the sole reseller of the
Avancé product line in the Americas, as well as being the only distributor for CAMS Automatic Rhinestone Machines, ProSpangle Bling Machine and the DTG brand of direct to garment printers. This allows us to offer the absolute best support and training!
When You Grow
Many beginning embroidery companies are caught be surprise at how fast their business can ramp up and grow. Normally, that’s a good thing, but if you purchase equipment with immediate needs in mind with no thought of expansion or success it can cause some real issues.
Issues with Growth
Equipment Fatigue – If you made the choice to spend as little money as possible up front and went with a more consumer embroidery machine you will quickly find that the components and construction just aren’t up to high volume work.
Software – A basic embroidery application might be fine for a low volume shop, but as you get busier and earn more business you will need more capabilities – consider an upgrade to a software package like Sierra Stitch Era
Training Employees – one of the first steps to growing is adding a person or people to actually run the equipment while you run the business – free ongoing and self paced training classes are vital! ColDesi offers them free for the life of your machine.
Adding and Upgrading – once your business is ready to expand in capabilities you’ll need to look into adding more “heads” to your operation through upgrading or adding on. Networkable machines, like the Avancé 1501C, allow you to purchase another machine and hook it up to the same computer that your 1st one is connected to so you get a 2 head or dual function system. Great for production!
On the other hand,
Avancé also offers a 100% trade up program for 2 years. That means that if you’re ready for a 4 head or 6 head machine within 2 years of your purchase you get 100% of the value towards you new machine!
There has been a recent model change in the Melco Bravo line, so if you are looking for a comparison of the Melco Amaya price, the Melco Bravo or the EMT16 you may be looking for basically the same thing. The latest Melco machine is model emt16, which has replaced the others. The Melco emt16 is offered through “Sew and Vac” dealers around the country and each one will give you a different price for the emt16 or the Melco Amaya brava line with differing and sometimes conflicting information about included accessories, software and training. The pricing listed in this comparison is from an actual dealer quote for the Melco emt16 but may not represent the highest or lowest price available.