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Used Embroidery Machine Buyer’s Guide

What to look for in a used commercial or professional embroidery machine.

When it comes to commercial embroidery machines, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.  Here’s a good starting place for the embroidery machine buyers’ guide:

  • You’ll want to consider the size of the machine. If you plan on embroidering large projects, you’ll need a machine with a large hoop size.
  • You’ll want to consider the stitch quality. Look for a machine that offers adjustable stitch length and width, as well as a variety of built-in stitches.
  • You’ll want to think about speed. If you plan on doing a lot of embroideries, you’ll need a machine that can sew quickly.
  • Finally, you’ll want to make sure the machine is easy to use. Look for features like automatic threading and an LCD touchscreen display. By keeping these factors in mind, as you go through the rest of the guide, you can be sure to find the best commercial embroidery machine for your needs.

In the next few paragraphs, we’ll outline the pros and cons of buying a used embroidery machine for your business – maybe you’re just starting out or have been running an established company

ColDesi has developed some real expertise in this area, having taken hundreds on trade over time; thousands since then too! Hopefully what’s below will help guide any potential buyer towards their perfect purchase that makes them happy (and keeps customers coming back).

Professional Machine Features

Professional and consumer units both have their benefits.
However, a professional machine will be able to produce higher yields than what you could get on an older model with lower quality materials or equipment in order for it to work properly as well as provide many more different types of products.
That being said there’s nothing wrong with trying out either option before making any final decisions about your future plans so don’t overlook either option just yet, especially if money isn’t really

Robustness – commercial quality means that the machine will run all day, every day, and not wear out or break down. Consumer machines aren’t made to run larger designs, or multiple designs, that may take 2-6 hours to embroider in one stretch. You can usually just “feel” this – just like closing the door on a high-end vehicle, you can tell when there’s quality.



Multi-needle – You may be used to a high-end home embroidery machine, and what you can accomplish with a good one is pretty impressive. BUT, if you are going into business you simply must be able to produce a multicolor design or logo as quickly and efficiently as possible, and even a $6,000 consumer single needle machine just won’t cut it.



Large Sewing Field – the sewing field is the size limit to the design you can embroider, or if you’re creating patches it is the number of them you can produce in one job. A small sewing field will rule out larger, more profitable jacket back designs, custom handbag designs, and more.



Training and Support – when you go into business, you can’t afford to leave questions unanswered or open your doors unprepared. When you purchase a commercial embroidery machine product the dealer/vendor/manufacturer understands that this is a business and you can’t be down. Because of this, you typically get a better educated, better-prepared person on the other end of the phone when you need help.



Auto Trim, large design memory, a limitless number of stitches, and warranty are all less obvious, but equally important differentiators between consumer and professional systems.

Don’t be fooled by big LED control panels, onboard fonts, or just plain good looks of a high-end consumer machine!

What Is Included With The Machine

Most people are surprised, if they have never been in the embroidery business, at the impact and the cost of accessories and software. 

When you’re running an embroidery business, you’re going to want 2 of each kind of hoop; one to sew on, and one to load while the other one sews so there’s no down time between jobs. 

You will also want the RIGHT sized hoop for the job, so that means at least 10 hoops in your inventory. Hoops range from about $30 to $90, so that can quickly add another $400 – $600 to your costs if they don’t come with the machine.

Does the used embroidery machine come with hoops?
One of the most important things to remember when running your business is that you need digitizing software.

There are many different applications on offer, so it’s difficult for one application alone can fulfill all requirements needed in order to create files needed by customers who want their items embroidered or computerized before shipping them off!

The software applications all have slightly different features, and possibly huge differences in capabilities. In addition, some software applications are difficult or even impossible to transfer from one owner to the next.

Does it come with transferable digitizing software?
Custom caps and hats are a hot business in the embroidery world! You cannot go to a mall without seeing a custom cap shop or kiosk, and caps are a huge market for businesses as well. Did you know that not all professional embroidery machines do caps well? And your used machine may not come with the “cap drivers” (hoops) to embroider on hats. This would represent a huge hole in  your potential sales and profits!

Will it do Caps, and come with the right drivers?
Supplies and sundries can not only add up in costs, but NOT having all that you need in the beginning can slow your growth and delay profitability. When you purchase a new piece of equipment from a reputable dealer or manufacturer it almost always comes with a large enough supply package to do your first few jobs.

The scenario you will want to avoid as a new business is to get that first order, then realize you don’t have the right kind of backing or toppings on hand and not fill it on time! Even the Essentials Kit from Colman and Company, which is the minimum you’ll need start, is $299 and the Popular Embroidery Kit is $499 – both are a great deal, but you need to keep that cost in mind when you’re comparing a new embroidery machine vs. used.

We’ve seen that it’s clearly not just enough to purchase the machine itself. When you’re comparing new vs. used, make sure you find out what comes with it.

Best Value For Start Ups

Starting an embroidery business requires knowing which type of machine best fits your needs.

How Old is the Machine?

There are hundreds of SWF, Tajima, ZSK (compare the top 5 machines here) and other solid brand embroidery machines that were first sold in the early 2000s or earlier that are still going strong. But there are several things that they may not, or simply cannot have that will make a significant difference to your business.

  1. Floppy drives – on many professional systems you do your design work on a PC, then carry your files to the embroidery machine, load them up and go. Up until just a few years ago machines came with 3.5” floppy disc drives to transfer those files. Floppies are getting harder and harder to find, replace or repair. Modern systems use a USB.
  2. Memory – newer machines have built in memory in addition to being able to use external storage, that way you can keep your regular customer’s designs right on the machine, ready to go at any time.
  3. Display control panel – current systems have a visual display that will let you SEE the design before outputting. Just to make sure you have the right one!
  4. Maintenance options – regular maintenance procedures have been streamlined over the years due to automatic oiling systems. Older ones may take you a little longer.
  5. Parts – the older the machine, the less likely you’ll find new factory parts if you have an issue.

Will the Used machine come with Training, Warranty, Support?
This set of reasons is why, if you do purchase a used embroidery machine, you simply must do it through a qualified dealer!

  1. Do you already know how to use the digitizing software, hoop a cap, change from flats to caps, which backing to use for which garment?
  2. Where will you go if you have technical problems?
  3. What to do if the machine keeps breaking needles, or just stops working?
  4. Are there training videos? Someone you can call?
  5. What if you expand and need to train someone new?
  6. Can you afford a major repair right after you purchase?

Buying Used can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the initial machine cost, but it may cost you thousands more in lost productivity, repair costs or just lost business because you’re not prepared. If you are considering a used commercial embroidery machine, make sure you review the points made in this Buyer’s Guide, then talk to a professional about your options.

Ready to Start or Expand Your Embroidery Business?

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