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Buying first commercial embroidery machine

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Old February 28th, 2017 Feb 28, 2017 2:41:00 PM -   #1 (permalink)
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Smile Buying first commercial embroidery machine

I went to a seminar last week about starting an embroidery business. It was in my local quilt/embroidery shop so they were trying to get everyone to purchase a Babylock Valiant 10-needle to get started and to use PEP or Floriani software. I am of the opinion that this is for home-use and not really commercial use and would like to know first, am I correct in that assumption, and second, what are the most reliable brands of single head commercial machines available, and third, what digitizing software do you like the best? Thanks for your help.
 
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Old February 28th, 2017 Feb 28, 2017 5:14:49 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

Yes, Babylock is more for home use than commercial. Can't say I've seen anyone on here in a commercial shop running Babylock.

Top 2 machines are Barudan and ZSK. Others behind are Tajima and Happy. I've read people have been happy with their Brothers if you're wanting a more affordable option for a single head. Don't buy a Chinese machine.

Software - Wilcom is the best, but most expensive. They did introduce some newer more affordable software, name is fleeting me at the moment. I personally use Wilcom and am pretty green to the whole embroidery scene (1.5 years) but I like it. Others I've heard of are Pulse and Embird.

This is just information that I've heard and mostly found on this forum.

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Old February 28th, 2017 Feb 28, 2017 5:19:43 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

I'm not really familiar with this machine but it looks like a good machine for a small "home-crafts" business. It doesn't look strong enough to handle large jobs running 8 hours + for years. A lot will depend on what you want to do and your budget. There is lots of information in this forum about what machines and software are preferred. Again, a lot will depend on what you want to do, your budget and proximity to repair people.

Personally, I would start with basic editing software while you learn to run the machine (contract digitizing to an experienced digitizer) and upgrade to digitizing software later rather than waste money on software you never use. If you start trying to learn how to run the machine and use digitizing software you may have issues that are harder to deal with because you don't know if the problem is due to the machine, digitizing or both.
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Old March 1st, 2017 Mar 1, 2017 5:11:58 AM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

Thank you very much. I didn't think a home-embroidery machine would do the trick. I am looking at Baruden with the WIlcom software. I think I will go to the ISS show in Nashville in May to see it in action if possible.

I appreciate your help.

Carol
 
Old March 1st, 2017 Mar 1, 2017 5:40:20 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

That's great! I'm guessing it will be noisy but that will give you a chance to hear different machines in operation. Some sound cheap while others sound smooth and mechanically sound.
 
Old March 1st, 2017 Mar 1, 2017 6:03:08 AM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by chamilton1026
Thank you very much. I didn't think a home-embroidery machine would do the trick. I am looking at Baruden with the WIlcom software. I think I will go to the ISS show in Nashville in May to see it in action if possible.

I appreciate your help.

Carol
That's great. Go check them out. But do a lot of your research before hand as Salesmen can be really sly. You can't go wrong with a Barudan. Keep these in mind:

- Make sure a tech is close to you! Especially since you're learning you'd hate to have something go wrong and your machine be down for days, even weeks. The best brands will say "this won't go down," but user error always happens. Barudan has quite a lot of techs whereas ZSK does not unless you're down south in Texas, Missouri, or there's a distributor up in Minnesota.

- Get EVERYTHING in writing. A major embroidery company lost a deal on a multi-head from me because they were dinking around and not putting what they said in any proposals in writing. If you're looking to get a single head there will probably be a training fee around $800. If you get a multi it's usually included.

- Wilcom is great, but don't pay the sticker price from any embroidery dealer. I called them and they had a special. I got E3 Designer, retails for $3,999, for $1800 direct from Wilcom.
 
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Old March 1st, 2017 Mar 1, 2017 6:10:43 AM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

barudan is pretty widely accepted as the best. tajimas are probably the most popular. don't waste your money on digitizing software....at least not in the beginning. there is a LOT to digitizing. learning the software is easy, but learning what will work and what will not is the hard part. it took me probably 2 years before i felt i could put out a decent design and i was doing it full-time. i've had some of the same customers for 20 years. most embroiderers don't have the time to learn to digitize once their business picks up. sunembroidery is exactly right. if you're trying to just learn embroidery...AND digitizing, and your work is coming out awful it would be a double headache trying to figure out which is the problem. learn embroidery first, then see if you have the time or inclination to learn digitizing. good digitizing can make or break an embroidery shop.

that said, a decent editing/lettering package is important. i would recommend going with a lower level wilcom, which is the most popular software. that way if you hire out designs to a digitizer that is also using wilcom, you would be able to use the native file to make changes or add lettering in the wilcom editing package. later on if you decided to upgrade to the full package it would probably just be an upgrade fee instead of paying for the full package.
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Old March 1st, 2017 Mar 1, 2017 2:38:43 PM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

Carol, we are going to the DAX trade show in Kansas City this weekend and there should be a few of the vendors showing some of the machines you might be interested in. (We live in St. Louis too!) You should be able to google DAX if you want more information. Dana is correct, digitizing is not easy. I used the software that came with my SWF machine for about 3 years and then bought Wilcom about 2 years ago. Difference is night and day but I still have light years to go before I will feel comfortable with using it. If you want to PM me, I can fill you in on some other St. Louis vendors that sell various machines that I am aware of. But the ISS shows are wonderful-I think they produce great trade shows.
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Old March 1st, 2017 Mar 1, 2017 5:43:37 PM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

If you are in St. Louis it makes since to get a ZSK since you are in the same city as the home office. At least you would have good support because you could drive the machine over there. If you were in a different state I would probably say Barudan.

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Old March 3rd, 2017 Mar 3, 2017 6:43:01 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

I own ZSK and you ain't driving them anywhere. My JAF series single head weighs in at a robust 900#! The newer Sprint single is closer to 185#. That one is manageable.
 
Old March 3rd, 2017 Mar 3, 2017 7:56:57 AM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

You should definitely go and LISTEN to different machines. A machine should not sound "tinny". Also talk with machine owners at the show. I have been a Barudan owner since 1993 and can count on one hand the number of times I've had to call a tech. Yes, "$#it" happens, but on a whole with proper maintenance/oiling these things will run forever. For software something to consider is Drawings you can see lots of videos/webcasts at Digital Arts Solutions website. We are currently running Wilcom and Drawings and love them both for different things. If you call DAS tell Craig or Will that Dennis/Vicki recommended them, lol.
 
Old March 3rd, 2017 Mar 3, 2017 9:40:29 AM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

Important considerations:

Everyone has given great advice- go to the show, listen to machines, ask questions about service/nearest tech, get software.

But these are just as important
1. How much space do you have to dedicate to the machine (single head on a stand or longer 2 or 4 head)

2. What power source do you have/will you need? Is the machine running on a regular 110v or will you need to call an electrician to upgrade to a 220?

3. Will you start out with orders from current clients (customized baby oneies/towels or corporate logos). These clients are vastly different the first will want/need more colorful designs upwards of 9 or 12 colors; corporate are usually under 6. How many needles will you need to start? I suggest no less than 9. Four or five can be standard colors- black, white, blue, and red and you can switch out the others as needed.

4. Are you looking to lease (new/used) or purchase outright (new/used). Cash is king. However, can you start with a smaller unit and once business takes off, justify a larger (or newer) unit.

5. Have you considered all the supplies (not including thread, bobbins and backing) that you will need money and space for? Extra hoops, Hoop assistants (such as HoopMaster, Lil Buddy), cap attachments and others I'm not thinking of right now.

6. How much time do you think you will be embroidering vs what you're doing now. Be realistic in your plan/budget. And be ready for unexpected growth spurts.

Hopefully I'll see you in Nashville.
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Old March 3rd, 2017 Mar 3, 2017 9:56:16 AM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

You are right. I have received wonderful advice so far and I thank everyone who has taken the time to help me with this.

I do have the space for a single head on a stand with optional space to grow for something larger if it looks things are going well.

I had not considered power. I may need to check on that. I just assumed it would be fine.

I currently work full time in a different field and know that from discussions with others I could have some corporate clients and probably some retail (onesies, blankets, etc) clients, but I am looking at a 15 needle, so that should not be a problem.

I want to pay cash, but I really wasn't sure if that would get me a discount or not. Negotiating with dealers and suppliers is something I need to know much more about.

I do have a lot of supplies already because I am pretty crazy about machine embroidery on a personal level, but my business plan does include hoops, hoop aids, and additional supplies. I have a fairly good editing program that does basic digitizing, so I may start out with that and farm out some digitizing at first.

My husband took very early retirement and I believe he would be willing to help me if there were significant growth spurts while I was still working full time. If it doesn't work out, I have about 10-15 more years of work in a field I love, and if it does, I am willing to give it up for my newest love, embroidery.

Thanks again!
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Old March 3rd, 2017 Mar 3, 2017 10:18:29 AM -   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

I'm going to against most people here and tell you I think the 10 needle Babylock will be a good place to start. We have 2 of the previous models. While they may not be 'commercial', they can certainly handle volume. We've been running the Brother 6 or 10 needle machines for almost 10 years now, they've taken everything we can throw at them.

If your business expands to the point where you need more than a single head, the single head machine will still come in handy for one-off's and smaller runs. The camera placement on the 10 needle machines gives you a capability simply not available on the commercial machines.

Unless you have proof that you are going to be running the machine 12 hours a day, 5-7 days a week, continuously, I think they are a great starting point. The first Brother 6 needle machine we bought, we only sold it to upgrade to a 10 needle with the camera. It had over 70 million stitches on it at the time, had been in the shop twice for minor repairs. The second one we had, we sold with over 50 million on, again, only sold it to get a second 10 needle machine. That one made 1 trip to the shop because I broke the needle threader.

YMMV but for us and a lot of other people, they have been great machines...
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Old March 4th, 2017 Mar 4, 2017 7:58:01 AM -   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Buying first commercial embroidery machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by chamilton1026
You are right. I have received wonderful advice so far and I thank everyone who has taken the time to help me with this.

I do have the space for a single head on a stand with optional space to grow for something larger if it looks things are going well.

I had not considered power. I may need to check on that. I just assumed it would be fine.

I currently work full time in a different field and know that from discussions with others I could have some corporate clients and probably some retail (onesies, blankets, etc) clients, but I am looking at a 15 needle, so that should not be a problem.

I want to pay cash, but I really wasn't sure if that would get me a discount or not. Negotiating with dealers and suppliers is something I need to know much more about.

I do have a lot of supplies already because I am pretty crazy about machine embroidery on a personal level, but my business plan does include hoops, hoop aids, and additional supplies. I have a fairly good editing program that does basic digitizing, so I may start out with that and farm out some digitizing at first.

My husband took very early retirement and I believe he would be willing to help me if there were significant growth spurts while I was still working full time. If it doesn't work out, I have about 10-15 more years of work in a field I love, and if it does, I am willing to give it up for my newest love, embroidery.

Thanks again!
Paying cash does not typically get a discount. Most distributors would prefer a lease package.
 






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