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.