Industrial Sewing Machines: Everything You Need to Know

Looking for Superior Durability? Put the Focus on the Industrial Sewing Machine

There are several differences between sewing machines and industrial sewing machines.

The main one is their usage. 

Manufacturers design domestic machines for personal use, and industrial machines for long-term, professional tasks.

Before we tackle various terms and types of industrial sewing machines, let’s watch a video.  

Do you need an industrial sewing machine? Let’s hear a half-charming pin-up girl, half-industrial machines specialist Evelyn Wood. 

This is how she responds on her YouTube channel:  

From the video, you’ll get to know:

    1. What are industrial sewing machines?
    2. What are they used for?
    3. Why might you like one?

Do I need an industrial sewing machine?

Before we go further, let’s tackle the crucial question: do you even need a commercial sewing machine? 

You are probably too early in the industrial sewing machine game if you just learn to sew these days. 

Don’t rush! A sewing machine for beginners might be the perfect place for you now. 

According to Evelyn Wood, there are a few reasons to go for an industrial sewing machine over a domestic one

    • speed,
    • durability,
    • functionality,
    • reliability;

Before deciding if you need what an industrial machine offers, let’s review the details of this adventure. 

What is an industrial sewing machine?

As a rule of thumb, one industrial machine does one job. Needless to add, it will handle this task exceptionally well. 

You’ll pick one of the following specializations:

    • straight stitch (flat lock machine),
    • overcast stitch (serger/overlocker),
    • buttonholes (buttonhole machine),
    • cover stitch (coverstitch machine),
    • embroidery (embroidery machine);

Embroidery vs sewing machine
Image source: The Creative Folk

Each industrial sewing machine model has an autonomous:

    • lubrication system, 
    • table (read about a sewing machine table), 
    • table lightening, and 
    • separate servo motor;

The critical feature of any industrial sewing machine is the opportunity to operate at high speed for 24 hours. Industrial machines are designed to sew all day long without issue. Do you see why these machines need constant lubrication of their mechanisms now? 

Industrial sewing machines
Image source: Sew Way

A typical industrial sewing machine has a vertical rotary shuttle system. It has a rotary hook system that rotates in a complete circle around—it must make two full circles to form a stitch.

Also, industrial machinery usually uses an increased voltage—380 volts.

(by Sew Way)

Mind that an industrial sewing machine isn’t the same as a heavy-duty sewing machine. It’s a common misconception. Industrial sewing machines specialize in doing one thing. Yet, only some of them are experts in sewing leather or thicker sewing fabric.

Commercial sewing machines
Image source: Online Garments Academy

So should you get yourself an industrial sewing machine?

For starters, let’s review the cons of this enterprise.

First, you’ll need a lot of space. These machines are heavy, stationary, attached to a table, and take a lot of room. 

Secondly, since they’re so specialized, they will not replace your domestic all-in-one sewing machine.

Let’s say it once more: with one industrial sewing machine, you’ll tackle only one task. 

For example, if your industrial machine sews only straight stitches, you’ll have to handle all the buttonholes, zigzags, and overlock with another machine. 

Mom daughter sew clothes together pattern dress electric sewing machine
Image source: Info Depot

On the bright side, there are several valid reasons to start saving for an industrial sewing machine. 

Let’s break them down in the table created with the help of Jack North America

Reason

Explanation

You sew a lot

There are many fancy functions of domestic sewing machines (embroidery, decorative stitches, etc.). Yet, if you’re like most sewists, you use your machine for straight stitch seams in most of your projects.

You run a good chance of burning out the motor if you sew a great deal and operate a domestic machine all day. To avoid excess heat or load strain, introduce an industrial sewing machine to your sewing room ideas

You sew professionally 

If you sew professionally, an industrial sewing machine is a suitable choice for your business. 

Many domestic machines sew beautiful seams, but these models are costly. Also, no domestic sewing machine will give you more control over your seams than an industrial sewing machine. 

You run a fashion design workshop/manufacturing

This point concerns any type of workshop or manufacturing—even the smallest enterprises. An industrial machine will suit you better than a domestic machine. 

The chief advantage is the readiness of industrial machines to run all day without issue. In some manufacturing operations, these machines run almost 24/7. Lubrication systems of industrial machines provide minimal wear and tear on the internal gears. 

What else is so special about industrial sewing machines? They allow you to:

    1. control both upper thread tension and bobbin thread tension.

It’s critical when working with fabrics of different thicknesses or densities.

    1. adjust presser foot pressure and dog feed height;

Used industrial sewing machine
Image source: Sew Much Moore

When you decide to buy an industrial sewing machine, don’t forget the regular cleaning and oiling (also known as “the right maintenance”). It’s a deal-breaker to provide your machine with a long life, which it’s designed to have anyway.

Any qualified sewing machine repair technician can replace wearing parts like

    • needle bars, 
    • motors, 
    • cutting knives, 
    • hooks, and others; 

A commercial-grade sewing machine is designed to improve operator efficiency (operator grows with experience). New operators start slowly and set the industrial machine speed low until they grow more comfortable. Then, they can increase the sewing speed.

There are two more reasons to invest in an industrial sewing machine, according to Jack North America

Reason Explanation

You work a lot with heavy materials

Industrial sewing machines generally know how to sew heavy wool, denim, leather, canvas, or other heavyweight materials. Yet, those made exclusively to work with these fabrics will do it well above expectations. 

Sewing heavy materials on your domestic machine often is fundamentally a wrong move. It can cause the machine’s premature failure due to stress on the internal components and motor. 

Resale value/upgrading

According to Jack North America, industrial sewing machines hold their value longer. They are built to last a lifetime with proper maintenance. With time, when you update to a new machine, the old one loses very little resale value. For example, you buy an entry-level industrial machine and use it for some time. Eventually, you sell it, recapturing most of the initial purchase price.

Industrial machines have different feeding mechanisms: 

    • for sewing very delicate fabrics, a needle feed industrial machine performs better than a drop feed, 
    • for sewing thick leather, a compound feed (Walking Foot) in a heavy-duty commercial sewing machine is perfect. It can feed thick materials evenly and not mar the face of the material;

A factory sewing machine is designed to handle all manners of materials and sew beautiful seams without issue! 

Also, their motors are more potent than domestic machines. They aim to sew through multiple layers of thick materials and not get bogged down. 

Sewing machine for business
Image source: Sewing and the City 

Watch “Do you need an industrial sewing machine?” (or as the author calls it “Some rambling thoughts on sewing machine purchase while repairing a handle.”) by Jason of All Trades:

Types of industrial sewing machines

You won’t be surprised to hear that sewing machines come in several types. 

While the primary differentiation is domestic and industrial, both types have their further categories. 

As we read on Achilovers:

“There are four popular designs for the industrial sewing machine. […] “Flatbed” are similar to smaller, traditional sewing machines. They are great for sewing flat materials together. A “Cylinder-bed” type sewing machine passes fabric around a cylinder base instead of a traditional flat base and is most successful with thicker items, and cylindrical items. “Post-bed” machines are used on difficult designs such as boots and gloves and have more complex features, such as bobbins and loopers. “Off-the-arm” designs typically work on material that requires short seams like sleeves, and works with a horizontal column.”

Based on their body design

We know the look of a traditional domestic sewing machine. It’s typically:

    • a flat bed, 
    • an arm that rises in an arch over it, and 
    • a needle and presser foot that engage the throat plate that lies flush with the bed;

Most industrial sewing machines have the same form as domestic models. That’s why many people are not aware that industrial machines can also come in other designs. 

The main idea behind the looks of these appliances isn’t the looks at all!

It’s all about practicality. 

Manufacturers design these machines in a particular way to make them as hassle-free as possible. 

“The units are engineered to accommodate workpieces of a particular configuration, thus helping make the production process more efficient and less time-consuming.”

(by ABC Sewing Machine)

Let’s see what we know about the four types:

    1. Flatbed

Often found in factories. This machine’s flatbed is perfect for sewing together long, flat pieces of fabric. 

Certainly, seams created by flatbed machines look top-notch neat, clean, and professional.

      2. Cylinder-bed

As the name shows, the beds of cylinder bed machines have a cylindrical shape. 

Cylinder-bed sewing machines pass fabric around a cylinder base instead of a traditional flat base.

These devices are flawless for making things that are also cylindrical, think:

      • cuffs and sleeves, or 
      • bulky items, like saddles and shoes.

Big sewing machine
Image source: YouTube

      3. Post-bed

The post-bed machine design refers to a raised bed, offering more space to a sewer. 

We use these machines to 

      • make three-dimensional items: gloves, hats, and boots, or 
      • attach emblems, logos, or badges to garments and accessories;

      4. Off-the-arm

This construction makes it more comfortable to work on circular projects, like shirt sleeves and trouser cuffs.

Some domestic sewing machines have a free arm, but they aren’t as robust as those found on industrial sewing machines. 

Thanks to Sew My Place for this handy piece of knowledge!

Best sewing machine for business
Image source: First for Women

Semi industrial sewing machine

You may also come across a category “semi-industrial sewing machine.”  What does it mean exactly?

Just as the name indicates: 

“Semi-industrial sewing machines have caught on to the idea that a fusion of domestic and professional features makes for the perfect model, often boasting high stitch rates, larger sewing spaces, aluminum cast parts, upstanding spool stands for industrial-size thread spools and automatic functions.”

Woman and Home also has a couple of compelling examples to share: 

    • Janome MC6700P,
    • Juki DX-2000QVP,
    • TL-2020 PE (120V),
    • TL-2020 PE (230V),
    • TL-2010Q,
    • TL-2010Qi, and the list goes on!

Used commercial sewing machine
Image source: YouTube

Commercial grade sewing machine—before you buy

According to Archilovers, here’s what to consider before getting an industrial sewing machine:

    1. Budget
    2. Reason
    3. Type
    4. Features

While the list is super concise, it includes an immensity of top-notch considerations regarding an industrial sewing machine. We’re revealing them below. 

Speaking of super, do you know what else is “super” multiplied by four?

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    1. Super easy to use—with configurators that help you design and order in minutes.
    2. Super quality—you’ll meet premium quality from start to finish of your project.
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Invest in these different types of woven labels, custom hang tags, and care labels to give your projects super professional energy.  

Superlabelstore clothing tag

We’ll crack things worth considering before getting an industrial big sewing machine below, but first, let’s watch

“5 things to look for when buying an industrial leather sewing machine” by Stock & Barrel Co Leathercraft:

Budget

What’s the industrial sewing machine price?

    • a good quality basic sewing machine costs just over $100,
    • specialty machines and those with more features, from $200 to more than $600, whilst
    • most good quality industrial sewing machines are more than $1,000;

But this is just a general rule. Most entry-level domestic machines cost roughly equivalent to an average industrial sewing machine.

If you don’t feel like spending much on a new one, consider buying a used commercial sewing machine. Industrial sewing machines are known for their extended lifespan. There is a great chance you’ll come across a good one for half their price only because they were produced a long time ago. 

Reason

Is an industrial sewing machine the right choice for you?

These machines have the only single-stitch capability, i.e., they are built to produce the same or similar products quickly.

It means that if you sew at home and use only one industrial sewing machine, you’ll be limited stylistically—claim Archilovers

Industrial sewing machines are ideal for individuals who work in a manufacturing capacity. 

Go for this sewing appliance if you often need to 

    • make multiple products quickly, 
    • work long hours, and 
    • handle more difficult fabrics;

“While not off-limits to those who don’t sew for business needs, the goals of an industrial sewing machine can differ greatly from those of a traditional style.”

—we read on the same website. 

Heavy duty industrial sewing machine
Image source: Uno Sewing

Type 

There are four popular designs for the industrial sewing machine. 

The key to finding out which type of product you look for is understanding which type will meet your needs. 

“Flatbed” is like smaller, traditional sewing machines. It’s suitable for sewing flat materials together. 

“Cylinder-bed” is most successful with thicker items and cylindrical items. 

We use “Post-bed” machines on challenging designs such as boots and gloves. They provide more complex features such as bobbins and loopers. 

“Off-the-arm” typically matches excellently with short seams projects, like sleeves, and works with a horizontal column.

Features

Let’s say you’ve got it all tackled:

    1. You’ve found a good reason to buy a commercial sewing machine, 
    2. You have a budget to afford it (keep in mind that investing in a used industrial sewing machine is an excellent idea), and
    3. you’ve chosen the type that suits your efforts perfectly; 

Following Archilovers guide, the last point to consider before buying a standard or heavy-duty industrial sewing machine refers to features. 

Industrial sewing machines are more basic and streamlined than their household counterparts. 

We can’t stress it enough: their purpose is to perform one job repeatedly and quickly without leaving much space for fancy add-ons. 

Yet, motor, speed, and noise level options will ask for your deepened study before the purchase.

Mechanical or computerized? Reviewing options doesn’t end here: needle stop position, 

    • tension control, 
    • feed mechanisms such as drop feed, 
    • needle feed, 
    • Walking Foot, 
    • puller feed, and 
    • manual feed; 

Think about these features before making the ultimate consumer decision. 

Semi industrial sewing machine
Image source: NY Times

To conclude this chapter, let’s go for a ride with Zoe Hong. 

From her almost half-an-hour “Intro to Industrial Sewing Machines,” we’ll gain valuable insight into these industrial, professional sewing appliances. 

The best industrial sewing machine models

The game is usually played between Brother sewing machine, Singer sewing machine, Janome sewing machine, and other brands known for their best sewing machine models.

Yet, the industrial sewing machine for the business sector is mainly a playing field for the JUKI brand. 

What is JUKI? 

JUKI Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of domestic and industrial sewing machines. It’s also involved in high-technology SMT (surface mount technology) assembly equipment. The company is headquartered in Tokyo.

The company currently markets its products on six continents in about 170 countries.

In October 2018, the company announced a cooperative project with Hitachi. They aim to use IoT-based digital innovation to optimize manufacturing processes.

JUKI is one of the most respected and reliable brands in the industry. 

Don’t get us wrong; there are also Singer and Brother industrial sewing machines on the market. Yet, the truth is, these brands aren’t as visible as JUKI in the industrial sewing machine category. 

Sewing Crafter advises to have a look at these points when choosing the best industrial sewing machine:

    • a Walking Foot feed is crucial for leatherwork (you can also buy a Walking Foot Accessory or a Rolling Presser Foot Accessory),
    • the pressure foot should be high is tall enough for the project you are working on,
    • the machine should take the thread size that you need to work with (read how to thread a sewing machine),
    • you should be able to install a speed reducer for detailed stitching,
    • choose between a flatbed table and a cylinder head on your machine,
    • get proper industrial machine needles for each kind of material. Look at the top part of it—it should be completely round. If you see a flat side, it’s a leather needle specifically designed for home sewing machines. (learn about sewing machine needles from this article);

In this paragraph, we’ll go through the commercial sewing machine models considered best in their category.

Let’s have a look at a few leading JUKIs and their fascinating rivals. 

Juki DDL-8700

This one is an industrial bestseller. 

You’ll find it in almost every popularity (and functionality, efficiency, and others) list.

According to Goldstar Tool:

“While the Juki DDL-8700 deserves an all-around five-star rating, it goes above and beyond. It’s quiet, requires very little maintenance, and it’s insanely powerful.”

So let’s get down to details. 

Why should we cherish JUKI DDL-8700 to such an extent? 

This machine is manufactured explicitly for light to medium and some heavy-weight fabrics. 

So if you have to handle:

    • denim, 
    • vinyl, 
    • boat canvas, or 
    • curtain, 

you may want to try this model;

Needle sizes in this machine range from 16 to 22. (check his article about sewing machine needles)

With JUKI DDL8700H, you can expect:

    1. ease of operation, 
    2. outstanding responsiveness, and 
    3. tremendous reliability (even at high speeds); 

Dreaming about creating seams of consistent quality, no matter what material? 

You’ve found your second half. 

Also, JUKI DDL8700H was chosen as the “best for denim” by Sewing Crafter.

Servo motor guarantees low noise and low vibration. This 110-volt machine can handle a fair amount of work.

On the dark side, JUKI DDL8700H doesn’t have a Walking Foot, so you’ll need to add a foot accessory if needed. (read about sewings supplies)

Check out the “Juki DDL 8700 Overview” on the YouTube Cut Sew channel:

Commercial sewing machine model
Image source: Im Sew Juki

So let’s sum it up with Bee Sights:

Pros

Cons

Great for light and medium fabrics

Not a lightweight or portable model—can not be moved around easily

Easy and smooth operation

Not very suitable for leather and other heavy-duty materials

(read about the leather sewing machine and embroidery sewing machine)

Noise-free operation

No auto needle threader

Sturdy build

JUKI DDL-5550N

Another hero from the JUKI stable.

This model is not such a big sewing machine—it’s a size down from the DDL-8700. 

However, Juki DDL-5550 is heavy, weighing around 250 pounds in total.

This machine is sold as a complete unit that comprises:

    • the machine head, 
    • table, 
    • stand, 
    • motor, 
    • sewing light, 
    • drawer, and 
    • all necessary components for successful sewing; 

JUKI DDL-5550N is quiet.

Its servo motor uses 90% less energy than other motors and is 1/3 lighter than clutch motors. 

Originally 5500 stitches per minute, the JUKI DDL-5550N industrial sewing machine has speed control. 

The motor’s adjusted speed remains the same no matter how hard you push down on the pedal.

With this machine, you can start your sewing slower. Then, you can gradually set it higher as you build your sewing confidence up.

So, if you’re a beginner who decided to invest in a quality industrial sewing machine, this is your pick.

Commercial grade sewing machine
Image source: Sewing Your Style

On Sewing Your Style, we read:  

“This machine is ideal for sewing lightweight and medium weight fabrics. It is not intended for leather or other heavy materials. This model is engineered for reduced noise and vibration and made for comfortable operation. […] If you are a quilter, this won’t be the only machine you will need, but it’s perfect for piecing, binding, and straight-line quilting.”

You can also download a JUKI DDL-5550N manual from Sewing Your Style and learn about the pros and cons of this model. 

Janome HD1000 

Apparently, there’s also some space for other brands on the top.

Let’s start with the Janome HD1000—an industrial-grade domestic sewing machine. Halfway between industrial and domestic, and skilled at sewing leather! 

Janome’s machines are built to last for decades.

Thanks to the aluminum they’re made of, you can be sure that they’re both lightweight and durable. 

Let’s see what our guide Joanna conjures up with Janome HD1000 in her sewing room:

Janome HD1000 also comes in a black version!

Factory sewing machine
Image source: Morgan Makes Stuff

Singer 191D-30

It’s time for Singer! This model has what it takes. 

Singer 191D-30 has a durable unit. It’s a versatile, heavy-duty, high-speed industrial sewing machine. It handles high-volume projects and bulk orders with ease.  

“Singer 191D-30 is equipped with an industrial-grade motor that provides extra power and high speed to sew multiple layers of fabrics with ease. The sturdy construction of the Singer 191D-30 ensures long-lasting durability.”

—we read on Bee Sights.

So, could anything make us unhappy with this model?

Just two tiny things: it’s not suitable for beginners, and it’s relatively expensive ($699.99).

Industrial sewing machine models
Image source: Sewing Gold

Brother RH-9820

This Brother commercial sewing machine was selected by Gathered as the best dressmaking machine. 

If you’re serious about making garments professionally, consider getting Brother RH-9820. 

It makes sewing light, quick, efficient, and precise.

Significant features?

    • maximum sewing speed 2,500 rpm,
    • easy to change the needle,
    • specializes in fine finishing of buttonholes,
    • large arm pocket to allow smooth fabric handling,
    • easy-to-use operate;

Industrial sewing machine price
Image source: Pastori

There are hundreds of other industrial sewing machine models worth your attention. 

They are produced by established brands known for making quality sewing machines, such as:

    • Juki,
    • Yamata,
    • Jack,
    • Brother,
    • Singer,
    • Janome,
    • Consew,
    • TechSew;

Discover some models these leading brands propose on Sewing Crafter

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