This is a question that crossed the mind of every embroiderer – seasoned, professionals, and startup entrepreneurs alike.
Given the temptation to save money on a second-hand embroidery equipment, research is certainly warranted.
The truth is there is no simple answer to whether or not you should purchase used commercial embroidery equipment. Like most business decisions, this is a matter of analyzing considering other options before making a decision on what’s best for you.
Machine cost can take up a significant percentage of the startup capital, particularly if overall capitalization is an issue. In such a case, you may be forced to buy second-hand embroidery equipment.
With plenty of capital, the cost of embroidery machine may not be an issue. The only decisions you will be faced with include number of rotary heads, desired software features and types of frames.
Regardless of what startup costs you are faced with, it is important to keep the following in mind when deciding between a new and used commercial embroidery machine.
Used Machines Offered as Fully Reconditioned
A fully reconditioned machine offers a used embroidery machine and many additional sewing hours. It is more affordable than a new or late model machine.
It is important to note that it’s not wise to properly recondition a used machine only to sell it. You won’t get enough money to cover the costs incurred buying and reconditioning the machine.
That said, if a used embroidery machine is advertised as fully recondition, it means one of two things. Either the machine wasn’t truly reconditioned or the seller got the machine free and reconditioned it.
Were the bent needles replaced? Were the needle cases removed and rebuilt? What about the needle bar felt packings and O rings? Were they replaced? Were the frame drives realigned? All of these are pivotal questions you need to answer before making a decision.
This is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing between a new and used embroidery machine. The first consideration is the available warranty options. Many new embroidery machines come with basic warranty coverage and you have the option of purchasing an extended warranty.
If going for a used embroidery machine, it is important to ensure that you have real tech support. This can be someone who is used to running and operating commercial embroidery machines. An online resource for fixing errors will also come handy.
Wear and tear
This is the biggest area of concern when choosing between new and used embroidery machine. A used machine can be in excellent condition while another may have been run completely into the ground.
This is due to differences in maintenance. For instance, was the machine oiled properly? Did the owner change the automobile oil every 6000 miles? All of these are important factors that will affect the wear and tear of a machine.
Keep in mind that operator skill sets will affect the rate of wear and tear. Novices have been known to a great amount of damage to their embroidery machines.
Used embroidery machines can range anywhere from excellent to extremely poor condition. Unnecessary machine damage and poor sewing performance are mostly the result of homegrown repairs.
Look out for sellers who have worked for big companies like Nike and Harley Davidson. While this doesn’t have a direct bearing on the condition of the embroidery machine, it is an indication that to some extent, good machine care was taken.
There are many technological differences between new and used embroidery machines. In addition to the bells and whistles found in newer models, the hardware differences are plenty. For instance, a used machine built on a 16-bit processor will not be able to compete with a 64-bit processor model.
Even though older machines allow for software upgrades, it is important to note that they will always be limited to their existing hardware. Ethernet networking, floppy drives and thumb drives may not be available as upgrades on used machines.
You will get faster sewing speeds and increased productivity with newer machines. Newer embroidery machines can achieve maximum speeds of 1200spm – 1500spm while many older models have a speed limitation of 750spm.
This equates to a 2:1 production ratio, meaning a new embroidery machine can produce two designs for each embroidery design on an older machine. A new machine is your best bet if you need speed and features that match your production model.
If you feel that an older model will match your production model while trimming the general startup costs, then you should go ahead and purchase it.
Embroidery machine manufacturers continue to produce repair parts long after the end of the model year. Assuming they do so for 5-7 years, it means that the parts will become obsolete and difficult to find. As such, cannibalization is crucial to ensure that an old machine remains functional.
Keep in mind that the older a machine is, the closer it is to having obsolete parts. This means that at some point, the machine will only be good enough for harvesting parts.
New embroidery machines come with new parts and are properly regulated systems. They are also well tuned and warranty and training are included. They produce world-class embroidery and are ready to use out of the box.
The asking price is usually higher than that of older machines, and reflects the benefits noted above. For businesses with a huge startup capital or anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the challenges brought on by a used model, a new machine will prove a worthy investment.
The biggest challenge when purchasing a used embroidery machine is establishing true value. A used machine that’s in good condition could be good use of your money. The high maintenance may not bother you if you are mechanically inclined.
If you decide to go with a used embroidery machine, it is important to ensure that it is assessed by a reputable source and every repair is tabulated. This will make it easier for you to negotiate an equitable value for you and the seller.