Choose it right – variety of industrial sewing machines explained
Which industrial sewing machine is right for you really depends on how you’re going to use it. For example, a dressmaker has different needs than someone making leather bags or car set covers. Some of these machines, like the Yamata FY8700, are suitable for thin to medium weight fabric while others, like the Consew 206RB-5, are great for heavier fabrics like leather or canvas.
While some manufacturers are very specific about the types of material their machines can be used with, that’s not always the case. A good rule of a thumb is that the presser foot should be more than 3mm higher than the thickness of the material to make sure that it can move easily under the needle.
Some industrial equipment is portable while other machines require 2 operators. That’s why it’s so important to know how you’re going to use your machine so you purchase the right model.
Tips for working on industrial sewing machine
Here are some useful tips to keep in mind, especially when you’re first starting to use it.
- Changing your seam allowances to ¼” can save time after sewing because you won’t spend as much time trimming, notching, grading, and clipping the seams. Plus, it creates a much smoother look.
- Don’t waste time cutting gemstone forms. Using ⅛” nips is more accurate and they’re less likely to fray or weaken the seams.
- Be careful when cutting fabric and patterns. Use a large, stable table and use a rotary cutter with a mat for the cleanest results.
- Don’t pin the pattern to your fabric. You’ll get better results if you use weights to hold it in place.
- Block your projects to make sure they lay flat without any puckering.
- Keep all of the things you need for your current project together in a sewing basket or bag including zippers, thread, and buttons.
- Sew as many seams as you can before stopping to press a garment. The best time to stop is when you have to cross over another seam.
- Cut buttonholes open with a punch rather than a seam ripper for better results.
- Don’t pin if you can help it. Pinning slows you down and can distort the fabric and seams as you go.
- Make sure to press your seams open before stitching over them to make sure that everything lays flat and looks neat.
These machines are pretty expensive, usually costing between $1000 to $3500. While this may sound like a hefty price, you have to think about a machine like this as an investment. If you’re going to be using it for a small business, the speed, efficiency, and quality you get from these machines will pay off in the end.
Features to consider while buying the best industrial sewing machine
There are some specific things you should consider when deciding which machine is the right one for you.
These machines are larger than regular home sewing machines so it’s really important to consider size. You have to make sure you have adequate space for the machine as well as enough room to work around it.
The machines that we chose range from 1,500 to 7,000 stitches per minute. That’s a wide range but even those machines at the low end are much faster than a typical sewing machine. That said, faster isn’t always better. For thicker materials like leather, slowing down a little produces more accurate results.
Keep in mind that these are industrial machines that usually run in a manufacturing-type environment. In other words, they’re pretty loud, especially those with a clutch-type motor. This is something to consider, especially if you’ll be working from home. A lot of brands market their products as having low vibration and noise reduction features which is ideal for home use. Servo motors are also a much quieter option.
What kind of motor is best for you depends on the kind of material you’re going to be working with. Clutch motors are best for hard, thick materials like canvas and leather though they’re typically pretty loud during operation. One reason for this is because they continue running even when you’re not actively sewing. When you do step down on the pedal, you’ll immediately feel the power of this engine.
If you’re working with thin to medium weight materials, a Servo motor is a great choice, like in JUKI DDL-8700 sewing machine. They have more variety in stitch speed and some can even make decorative stitches which can come in really handy depending on your project. Servo motors aren’t quite as powerful and only operate when you step on the pedal. Because they have adjustable speed options, they’re quieter and lighter than clutch motors.
The big thing to keep in mind about power is that some of these machines use a lot of it. Remember, these machines are meant for heavy use and you should consider the effect on your electric bill if you’re planning to use this machine at home. The good news? There are some eco-friendly options out available that consume less power.
Another thing to consider is whether your home of business is powered using a 110, 220, or 440 line. Some of these machines can convert from one voltage to another but others will require additional electrical work to make sure you’re being safe. If you’re unsure, consult with the building owner or electrician just to be on the safe side.
The bed of a sewing machine is the actual work surface and, believe it or not, it’s one of the most important things to think about. Why? Because each is meant for a different kind of material. There are 3 types of beds to consider.
A post-bed sewing machine has a raised column that sits above the actual surface of the table. This platform is where the needle and fabric actually engage. Because you’re working on a smaller, raised surface, you can concentrate on details. These beds are especially useful for boots, shoes, and bags that have a lot of curves and difficult stitches.
As you might be able to guess from the name, cylinder-bed sewing machines are rounded instead of flat which makes it easier to move fabric around them for difficult, detailed stitches, especially in hard-to-reach areas. This makes them a good choice for things like footwear, caps, shirt cuffs, and bags.
Flat-bed sewing machines have the same style bed as a regular home sewing machine only on a much larger scale. This is a good choice for large projects with a lot of fabric that need to be laid flat for best results.
Oiling and lubrication
Because of their speed and power, industrial machines need to be regularly oiled and lubricated. There are a lot of models that are self-lubricating and continuously pump lubricant over the moving parts.
If you choose a machine that needs manual lubrication, it’s important to be very diligent about maintenance. In fact, in some cases, it’s best to avoid them altogether. If you forget to oil the machine, you could cause extensive damage that’s expensive to fix.
Industrial sewing machines come with different ways to feed the fabric though the machine. Here are just a few.
Manual feed machines have an upright motion presser foot that grips the fabric before the needle goes in and releases so that the operator can move the fabric between each stitch. This is also called free motion feeding and give the operator a lot of control. It’s good if you need a sewing machine for quilting, darning, and embroidery.
Drop feeds use something called a feed dog beneath the throat plate. The feed dog goes up through the plate with each stitch, grips the fabric to the presser foot to move it forward, then returns to its original position.
Differential feed uses dual dog feeds beneath the throat plate, one in the front and one in the rear. These can go at different speeds to create shirring or stretch the fabric as you sew.
A top feed mechanism has a presser foot that’s split into 2 different parts. One holds the fabric by the needle and the other is on the lower side and moves the fabric along according to the position of the needle.
One thing that we wanted to mention is that some of these machines may arrive with some imperfections on the table and legs. Remember, these are pieces of industrial equipment and they’re not necessarily made to be pretty. That said, any imperfections shouldn’t affect the operation of the machine.
Warranties are always important so you should be sure to look over the one that comes with your machine so you know what’s covered and, more importantly, what isn’t. Because these are industrial machines, they’re made for heavy use and most of them have decent warranties that reflect that.