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Image courtesy ZSK Machines

Term of the Week: Single-Head Embroidery Machine

Andrea Bommarito is part of the third generation in her family business (ZSK Machines), started by her grandfather in 1955. Growing up and immersing herself in the sewing embroidery industry paved the way for a love of decoration technique and education. Based in St. Louis, Andrea aids in training as well as workflow and production solutions. 

The simple definition of a single-head embroidery machine is a machine that can produce one embroidery piece per operation. Although this may not seem impressive compared to the large, multi-head equipment, the single-head embroidery machine is one of the most popular models in the U.S. for embroidery embellishment because of its flexibility and versatility.

In the history of embroidery equipment, the single-head model did not evolve until the late 1970s and, even then, did not make a significant impact on the market. It was not until the mid to late 1990s that this type of equipment created a huge impression. Most embroidery businesses in the United States operated with several large pieces of multi-head equipment for mass production. Imagine that during this time, 16- and 20-head machines were standard models, and the 4- and 6-head machines were considered small units.

The single-head did not exist in the various manufacturers' lineup until the 1980s, and, even then, it wasn’t well-received. The cost of a single-head machine was one and a half to two times (or more) the price per head compared to multi-head equipment. Plus, the market norm was producing hundreds to thousands of pieces at a time, so why would a single-head be considered a good investment? The need for smaller orders and sample items started to emerge as mass production went overseas. The changing economics foraged a new embroidery market for the single-head and started a revolution in equipment.

For more on the capabilities of a single-head machine and its role in embroidery, check out Andrea's full-length article in the January issue of Printwear