Commercial Embroidery Machines |Comparison and Review - Updated for 2021

The Top Single Head Commercial Embroidery Machines NEW for 2022 - Editors Review

We give you a full in-depth analysis on the top brands the professionals use, as well as a comparison and review of the lesser known monogramming machines found on Amazon, Alibabba, Ebay and Ali Express.  

Embroidery Machines Fall Into Distinct Categories

In the past, there were two basic categories of embroidery machines in the market.  There were commercial embroidery machines, which were designed for hours and hours of constant use.  Sometimes referred to as Industrial Embroidery Machines, these machines have the proven reliability and quality needed if embroidery is your day-to-day passion.

And then there were the “home machines”, or monogramming machines which were typically much smaller and had fewer options and colors.

However, with the advent of mega shopping sites like Ebay, Amazon, Ali Express and Alibabba, there have been an influx of untested embroidery machines that look, act and smell like traditional brands but have little to no track record

These machines fall into a third category that straddles the market space between the professional embroidery machines and home monogramming machines. 

Keep in mind that choosing the best commercial embroidery machine or the best monogramming machine can mean the difference between success and failure.

Customers are More Concerned About the Quality of Your Embroidery Output

3D Embroidery on Hats - DetailedThis year, most of the industrial embroidery machines have new features and updates for 2022.  So, how do each of the following top embroidery machines stack up against each other this year?

Embroidery Professionals have traditionally been more interested in machine output quality, high-quality parts and components and reliability.

But they also realize that customers don’t really care which brand of embroidery machine you own, as long as the quality of the embroidery is razor crisp.

The way the machine performs can make a huge difference to you and your bottom line. 

Bad performance from a machine and double and even triple the time it takes to get your jobs done.  -blowing a hole in your bottom line profits.

But on the other hand, the very best quality of output is not worth the risk if the machine causes too many other headaches. The very best embroidery machines are worth the additional expense!

The Benchmark Machine - The Avancé Machine

Updated for 2022, the Avancé is our benchmark brand for the commercial embroidery machine category. Once again this year, the  Avancé 1501C from ColDesi is a big jump ahead in the areas that customers have wanted most.

How easy the machine is to use and maintain is critical to making a decent profit.  For that reason alone, you’ll want to invest in a company as well as a machine.  You can’t afford downtime.

Your business is living and growing. Even if you do not yet see a need for a specific feature, it’s possible that exact feature could have a huge impact as your business grows.

For example, the Avancé 1501C has the largest jacket back size of any other commercial embroidery machine represented in this top list of single head machines.

You may not have a huge call for large jacket backs now, but chances are good that you will want this and other features like it as you learn all the little tricks and techniques for using that extra size (patches, case covers, towels, etc.). It’s important to keep your options open to take advantage of new opportunities as they come along. Let’s learn how.

Factors We Used To Compare

Support, Training and Warranty options are also HUGE factors in the long term success of your business.  Many small businesses can’t get off the ground because they don’t understand their machine’s full potential.  Or they don’t understand how to price embroidery.

We review not only the machines and features, but also the brands and the companies that sell them. It’s important to uncover distribution strategies as well. There are several different distribution strategies that manufacturers use, and the way they go about selling makes a difference to the end-user.

Also, even though the embroidery machines made for the embroidery or monogramming business have similar features. They each use different methods for expressing those same features. The manufacturer 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 with a particular purchase. Machine stands are typically available or included, and they all typically have some kind of tracing/laser option.

Each will usually have a “table” for embroidering on heavy items like jackets, blankets, or caps etc., some manufacturers include these things for free and others do not.

ALL commercial embroidery machines will do 3D text and small lettering – it’s just a matter of specific fonts which are included or not and the quality of the small fonts.

Lastly, any commercial embroidery machine also qualifies as a commercial monogram machine.  However, they 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.

It’s important to have multiple jobs ready pre-loaded on the embroidery machine for smoother production from job to job.

Commercial embroidery machine features that are best for start-up’s

• Unlimited Training
• Quick Support Response
• High Quality Included Software
• Large Sewing Field (Jackets, Patches, Etc.)
• Ability to do Caps

Training and Resources to look for:

• Training – online and offline
• Education – videos, books +
• Quality Technical Support
• Industry Connections
• Start Up MUST Haves

5 Things to look for in your startup package:

• Hoops, hoops, hoops, the more the better
• Supply startup kit – backings, thread, bobbins, etc.
• Embroidery Designs – as many as possible
• Digitizing/Embroidery software (necessary)
• Rolling Stand

FEATURES Avance 1501C 2020 Tajima TMBP-SC1501 Melco EMT16 The CamFive EMB HT1051 MakeIt Machine Barudan XL2: BEKT-S1501CAII Happy HCD2
Number of Needles 15 15 16 15 15 15 15
Sewing Field Size 22" x 14" 19.6" x 14" 15.7" x 16.1" 22" x 14" 20" x 14" 9" x 15" 15.7" x 20.5"
Cap Frames Included? 2 2 2 2 1 2 7
Cap Sewing Field 2.5" x 13.5" 3" x 14.2" 2.3" x 14.5" 2" x 8.27" Unknown 2.5" x 13" 2.8" x 14.1"
Jacket Field 19.5" x 14" 16.1" x 15.7" 16.1" x 15.7" 11.81" x 11.81" 11.5" x 11.5" --- ---
Software Included Stitch Era Pulse Design Shop Wilcom Unknown LEM Wilcom
Designs Included 4,000 100 1800 N/A Unknown -- 250
Control Panel Full Color, Touch Yes No - Manual Yes Yes Yes Yes
Design Preview Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stitch Memory 2 million 20 million Computer required 100 million Unknown 10 million 40 million
Design Memory 800 200 N/A --- Unknown 100 250
USB Port Yes Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wheeled Stand Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No
Warranty 5 years 5 years 3 years 5 years 5 years 7 years 1 year
Max Speed (Stitches per Minute) 1200 SPM 1200 SPM 1500 SPM 1200 SPM 1200 SPM 1200 SPM 1200 SPM
Training-Online Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Training-Classroom Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
How Many Included Hoops 13 10 7 8 6 4 5
Auto Thread Trim Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Start Up Supplies Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes --- ---
Embroidery Table Included Yes Yes Yes Yes No --- ---
Keyboard Lettering Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rewards Club Yes No No No No No No

* Half-Jacket Back Only

Comparing Brands and Manufacturers

The Avancé 1501C

The 2020 Avancé commercial embroidery machine continues the brands long history in the US market. The exclusive dealer for this world class brand. ColDesi, Inc is a 100% American owned business operating in the US for over 17 years in the industry.

They maintain a reputation of having the best service and support in the world with hundreds of hours of media, webinars, podcasts, and technical insights available for free.  More people visit ColDesi operated support and educational sites worldwide than any other industry source.

ColDesi, group of companies has over 60 people on staff with a large portion of their staff working in customer support, machine preparation and training roles.  ColDesi commitment to support is built right into the mission statement of the company.

In our research for the 2021 review we again found the Avance 1501C holds top spot as the best commercial embroidery machine.  Our charting shows the Avancé 1501C leads in nearly every category. 

Also, the Liberty Digitizing software that is normally bundled with each new machine purchase (17th version strong) is the best software.  It’s clear and easy for anyone wanting to create the high quality custom digitized designs.

Above and beyond the machine features, ColDesi training is absolutely unlimited which means customers can take the instructor led courses as often as they like as long as they own their machines.

This is when many of them will be upgrading to multihead computerized embroidery machines and wanting to get the most value for their existing equipment.  ColDesi, Inc has a clearly defined growth path for the success of their customers.

The Melco EMC16

The Melco emt16 has an appealing look.  It's somewhere between the consumerist packaging of the Brother Entrepreneur Pro and the more industrial Avancé and Tajima brands. The pricing is also attractive at slightly under the average. Melco has changed ownership recently and now shares its product line with a consumer line of embroidery machines.  Be careful with distribution here – make sure if you buy from a home sewing and vacuum sales outlet that you get commercial level training. The biggest drawback may be that the Table Attachment is optional, which makes doing large items more difficult and adds to the complete product price.  However, the fact that the machine requires the computer to remain operational can mean that if your Windows based computer crashes, it could affect the machine or sew out.

The Tajima TMBP-SC1501

While certainly a respected traditional brand, Tajima has not put much R&D into their equipment in the past 5-10 years.  The feature set is very similar to what it was back then. When you consider that the price tag is up to $4,000 more than the average price of the models we are comparing here, it's clear the brand has been losing traction. The price is a 30% premium over the Avancé 1501C for a surprisingly smaller feature set. During the last century, the Tajima brand was the market leader in the US in terms of Market Share.  They made their reputation when larger embroidery shops (those with over 100 heads of embroidery) dominated the professional embroidery and monogramming business. That’s where their good reputation started. And why when you quiz a large embroidery shop about brand preference Tajima is typically near the top of their list. But since their heyday, Tajima embroidery machines have not changed to match the needs of today's entrepreneurs. Smaller order quantities, more customization and the proliferation of small and home based embroidery businesses had changed the most desireable features 

The CamFive EMB HT1051

The CamFive machine is a machine that is new to the US market.  Making the trade show circuit lately, The brand is more commonly seen on  "internet only" shopping sites such Alibabba, Ali Express and Amazon. The CamFive sports some of the same features as the more professional  embroidery machines but at a lower price point.  it has a generous LCD screen and comes with or without the cap option.  With on board lettering, it could be useful for a monogram shop, however the machine is nowhere to be found in the larger embroidery shops or embroidery franchise stores.  We can't yet make any claims about usability, maintenance or if it breaks thread too much.  It's buyer beware on this one because it's always better to know you have solid support and references.

The MakeIt Products and Equipment Machine

A darling on Amazon and Ebay, as well as overseas, we have little else to go on when reviewing the MakeIt embroidery machine. The machine looks to be a 15 needle knock-off of a previous years model.  The machine comes with on-board lettering features which may put it in the category with the other monogramming machines in this review. However, the machine's lack of a cap frame driver makes it a non-starter for most US embroidery shop owners. The profit for caps and the ability to do both caps and left chest logos is a too important to give up.  The machine may make a reasonable choice for custom monogramming of flat goods, but if that's all you wanted to do with it, you could simply buy a home machine instead.

The Barudan XL2: BEKT-S1501CAII

The Barudan machine is one of the two most expensive brands in the industry. Also getting its start in many large factories in North Carolina where the machine is distributed, the Barudan brand has been known as one of the top brands in the industry and has a price tag to match. Having pioneered some of the major improvements in the industry in the past, the brand is somewhat in maintenance mode now.  It has little to No feature upgrades recently. The manufacturer has stuck to incremental design changes for over 10 years.  Operators in larger factories are often familiar with the brand. However, it’s lack of a full-back jacket hoop, it’s limited included software, and the lack of comprehensive videos and training materials make it much less attractive for those who are expanding their business OR starting  with a single head professional embroidery or monogramming machine.

The Happy HCD2

Happy has carried over the ala cart feature and accessory attitude from their consumer products into their HCD2 industrial embroidery machine. Happy is well known for its home embroidery machines or expensive consumer machines similar to the Brother PR1000e Entrepreneur Pro. Along with their multi-needle home the Japanese conglomerate that owns Happy now makes a 15 needle commercial machine, the HCD2. The lack of included hoops, smaller jacket back size, and the rather simplistic “Stitch N Sew” software tend to keep the machine in the wheelhouse of the home styled machines.  This is somewhat surprising considering the machine is priced higher than the other commercial embroidery machine listed.

Why Sewing Field Matters

Here’s 5 market segments where 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, the more dollars you get to keep at the end of the month. With a large sewing field you can make more money with each change of the hoop.

Large beautiful designs sew longer, require less operator time, and attract the types of customers who are willing to pay top dollar for their customer Jackets and Patches.

Jacket backs and Patches require the largest sewing field and a strong and sturdy hoop to match.  They are very popular and profitable projects for embroidery. Here are just a few examples:

• School and Letterman Jackets

• Military & Police Backs & Patches

• Baseball club windbreakers

• Golf jackets

• Motorcycle club jackets and vests

• Sports & Club Jackets

Not only is a large sewing field a huge money maker, but the large field size showcases your capabilities, attracts higher quality customers and helps you win jobs you had not expected.

For example, if your main competitor was using an Amaya XTS commercial embroidery machine and you owned an Avancé 1501C, you could offer a 45% LARGER DESIGN. Which do you think a customer would prefer?

They both take the same amount of time to hoop and load. But don’t take our word for it.  Speak to an embroidery industry professional about which system is right for your business.  Use the links at the side to learn more, or dial the phone number above to speak with an industry advisor now.

Distribution Strategies

Where You BUY your commercial 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:

Sewing Center Sales

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

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 embroidery machine 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

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.

There are several consumer embroidery machines, like the Janome Memory Craft, that are not mentioned here. That is because the are specifically “craft” machines. Like the Janome Memory Craft, advanced features does not mean it’s the best INDUSTRIAL embroidery machine for businesses. 

The embroidery process is different between commercial with the best embroidery machines for business and ones like the Janome Memory Craft. One is made to for hobby and craft work the other to produce gift items for friends and family.

One quick example – the Avance 1501C comes with 2 of each common sized hoop. Because that embroidery process involves hooping one garment while the other sews. Different processes, different accessories too. 

ColDesi, Inc. is Avancé

In addition to the Avancé, ColDesi is also the only distributor for CAMS Automatic Rhinestone Machines, ProSpangle Bling Machine, DigitalHeat FX white toner transfer printers and professional DTF printers, 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 by 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 one 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!