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I need a machine recommendation. SWF, Ricoma or Tajima?

Discussion in 'Embroidery' started by expresssign, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. expresssign

    expresssign Premium Subscriber

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    Aug 30, 2003
    Blue Ridge, GA
    We are considering adding embroidery to our shop and are looking for a 2 head machine, and know NOTHING about embroidery, so newbie for sure.

    Which manufacturer would you consider the most reliable and have the best equipment or anything else I might need to know. I have watched a ton of youtube videos, and Ricoma has a few nice ones comparing itself to the other two.

    Any suggestions or things to look out for?
     
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  2. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    Sep 27, 2010
    Mid TN
    Stick with your name brands. Not based so much on which one is cheaper. If it's really too good to be true compared to others, it probably is.

    I'm partial to Barudan's myself, but they aren't going to be the cheapest (even used), but from your list, the next one would be Tajima and then SWF. Stick with name brand as they would typically have a good service record for when you need them. As far as close by, most techs will work on different brands of machines. I have a very good tech for when I need him out of Muscle Shoals, but I don't know if he would go into GA or not.

    Now, this isn't related to machines, but don't feel compelled to get the software that they try to bundle with the machine. Some are decent, some aren't as good as others.

    For a commercial digitizing product, your looking at a min of $3k. Anything sub $1k will be mainly auto converting and if one isn't up and how things should look, or how to tweak things, getting home versions will get you in a bind in various ways. May be able to make a $1500 program work, also would depend on what features you have on your machine as well. I have a sequin dispenser, so that automatically either puts me at $3k at minimum or one particular open source project (which has a step learning curve if unfamiliar with manual/semi-manual digitizing).

    One thing that I would highly suggest, although it's hard to do if starting out from scratch, is to take files that you have and have them embroider those files on the machine, not ones that they supply and have had a lot of time to perfect for demo'ing. You for sure want to sample machine on hats and if they would allow it also with 2mm foam (anything thicker and you are probably looking at changing upper and maybe even lower tensions, so they may not go for much thicker if they go for it at all). For puff, it's going to need to be setup for puff specifically. If it's puff on say a shirt or fabric swatch, it'll have to have applique in it as well.
     
  3. expresssign

    expresssign Premium Subscriber

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    Aug 30, 2003
    Blue Ridge, GA

    Thanks for your reply. On equipment, cost is not as much of an issue as quality, features, support, etc. so I agree with you 100%. I know you get what you pay for. Im trying to figure out which company is the largest, best quality and basically the luxury or top of the line manufacturer that the others are trying to be. Also, which software do you recommend for digitizing?
     
  4. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    For machine brand, in my opinion, Barudan. It has some features that with the right software you can hardcode into the .u?? file format or do at the machine (control machine speed at certain parts of the design so you don't have to babysit the machine is one big one in my mind).

    As far as software goes, Wilcom Embroidery Studio. You may be able to get away with Wilcom Hatch, but it doesn't have all of the features that I'm thinking of, but depending on what you are needing to do with the software, it may be enough. Bare in mind, that while Hatch and EmbroideryStudio have the same EMB file extension on the master proprietary file format, they aren't quite as interchangeable. At least, last time I checked. So keep that in mind just in case.
     
  5. TomNJ

    TomNJ Member

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    Apr 11, 2017
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    First off, take a hard look at what's involved in the embroidery business. You stated you know nothing about the business. It's easy to get sucked in by listening to the sales reps at the trade shows. Who is your target market? With a 2 head, you're not going to be doing production contract work. You simply can't get enough throughput on 1 machine to make it worth while. At least in my opinion. One off work sucks. You'll only get about $12 to put a name on a polo and after all is said and done, you have spent 45 minutes on the entire process. Sales, design & production. You'll spend a lot of time explaining to customers that come into your shop with a crappy jpeg and want you to embroider a hat. You'll have to tell them that you need a special file to embroider the logo and it will have to be digitized. You'll then have to explain what digitizing is and how much it's going to cost. After you then tell them that one hat is going to be $60 with the digitizing, hat and labor, you've just wasted 30 minutes of your time. Then at Xmas when people come into your shop and want a name embroidered on a stocking. You tell the $25 and they think you're insane, storm out of your shop and bad mouth you on Yelp. Take a hard look before you take the plunge. Unless you have a niche market, embroidery is a low margin business. If you do decide to take the plunge, Tajima will not disappoint. Also, instead of spending $55k on a 2 head, why not start out with a single head for less than 1/2 the cost? When that machine is running all day and you can't keep up, it's easy to make the decision to buy a 4 head. You'll need a single head anyway.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    I would actually expect this more with a single head then a multi-head. Single heads are where you get the more "business in a box" type of mentality and far easier to get sucked into that. At least in my experience.

    Hmmm, that's strange. Now, granted any multi-head that is bigger then a 2 head will do better, one can get production contract work with a 2 head. How big those runs are is the question. More heads you have, the bigger the run, but even with a single head, can get production contract work. How many items and lead times are what people have to learn to handle (and how many hrs one is willing to work over in case that figuring is wrong(I've been here many a time when I started out in this work)).
    I agree with you there, one offs do suck, but if done right, one will actually make more for that run then a production run. Just not as consistent as a production run. And with a single head, will be doing a lot more of them more often then not.

    If you are doing one offs that just about anyone can do, even those with a single needle home machine, then those one offs are really painful.

    As to the rest of that quote, I hate to break it to everyone, but that is a conversation one has regardless if it's a production client or a one off client. I have that conversation on a regular basis, even with people that are in other trades that have to deal with the exact same thing with whatever they do (oh the irony).

    As to the 45 minutes, I've spent 4 hrs on just digitizing alone for a hat design (realistic animal embroidery, lots of one stitch at a time digitizing, old school) that was a one off. There are going to be some jobs that digitizing alone can take all day (full backs especially) just on the digitizing alone. Depending on the design and the production worthiness of the digitizing, stitch out can take that long for just 1 (if single head).

    45 minutes for the entire process can be a breeze at times.

    But that situation of interaction between you and the customer above happens a lot. Some listen, some don't.


    It is definitely heading that way and oh so quickly. Between software vendors selling POS auto conversion techniques in their software, to people not knowing what good embroidery should look like. Or because they buy that cheap software that is mainly (or exclusively) auto converting can't fix the work to make it look better. Then of course, there is the traditional low ballers that either price things too cheaply (or not at all).

    Don't necessarily have to be in a niche market to get better margins, just have to market and deliver better then what others do. For some customers that won't matter, but like in any trade after so long, it becomes easy to identify those. Of course, having better economy of scale helps with those margins as well.

    But have to be honest with oneself and do a proper C/B and business plan to figure out what machine is the best fit. What market to go after and how long does one have to where should be showing a profit or it's time to get rid of the equipment and bow out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
  7. E Coloney

    E Coloney Member

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    -suggest you establish a relationship with a current embroidery shop to get wholesale pricing and from there see how much is involved from a sales/customer satisfaction (and customer demand) point of view. There is WAY MORE to learn about the ins/outs/process limitations of embroidery than merely buying a machine and being in business the next day. The folks that come in off the street will know next to nothing of what goes into it along with yourself (until you learn. Learning takes experience. Experience means making mistakes. Mistakes cost you money.). If you work with an experienced and interested embroidery shop, you don't have the expense for a machine and inevitable errors along the way,... right out of the gate.
     
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