EducationQ&A

What’s the cheapest embroidery machine I can use to get started in the commercial industry? Can I just use a home embroidery machine?

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If you use the cheapest machine that can embroider a garment, you’ll never make enough money to make the work worthwhile, or you’ll be frustrated enough to quit. At worst, a printer will show me a small, single-needle home machine from a big-box store with a four-inch square embroidery area as an example. Though even I have one of these for fun, they aren’t suited for commercial work. A sub-$500-dollar home machine may seem like a minuscule cost to enter a new business segment, but you will waste a tremendous amount of time. These machines’ top speeds (which they do not maintain throughout a design) are far less than half the speed possible on a commercial machine. They can’t change colors automatically; each color requires an operator to re-thread. They have a very limited design size. They are difficult to mount flat garments on, let alone the torturous methods they use to turn cap-crowns into a flat medium, all while limiting their embroiderable area. They are great for a few pieces of craft work, not day-in, day-out commercial embroidery.

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Erich Campbell

Erich has more than 18 years experience as an award-winning digitizer, e-commerce manager, and industry educator. He empowers decorators to do their best work and achieve a greater success. A current educator and long-time columnist, Erich takes every opportunity to provide value to the industry.

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