Embroidery Machine Legend

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The following terminology can be used when describing embroidery equipment


The heads are the stations or the number of items a machine can do at a time. Most embroidery machine models will have the number of heads encoded in their model numbers. For example, a Tajima TMFX-C1204 is a 4 head.

The distance between one head to the next is know as the head spacing.

Most every multihead embroidery machine will allow the operator to turn off any heads they want. An operator might want to turn the head off if they only want to embroidery an amount of items less than the number of heads or, if a head is having operational issues it should be turned off.


Embroidery Machine Needle
Embroidery Machine Needle

Needles are the number of colors the machine can do assuming each spool color is different.

Typical logos are no more than 5 colors and most logos are 1 - 3 colors. Machines are now sold with 15+ needles which however are not necessary, can be used to increase production embroidery.

A few pros or other uses for the additional needles:

  • Additional needles can be used for backup colors so when the machine breaks thread, a color change can quickly keep the machine running. When the machine stops next, the broken thread can be rethreaded. The same concept can be used if the machine is breaking needles. If a logo only has a few small number of colors, loading all the needles up with backup colors might increase output.
  • Most all logos are going to use the primary colors. If the machine has the machine, it should be threaded with as many of the basic colors as possible so that the operator does not have to change spools often.

Types of machines


A Flat Only machine means that the table top does not lower. When the table top does not lower it does not allow for cap systems or tubular systems.

A regular machine can become a flat machine just by putting the table on or raising the table up

Cap Machine

A Cap Machine has the ability to embroider on caps. There is an attachment that will need to be needed to change the machine from.

Tubular Machine

Tubular Embroidery Hoops about 12CM
Tubular Embroidery Hoops about 12CM

A tubular machine is a machine with a removable table top. This allows for cylinder embroidery meaning a shirt neck can go through the embroidery machine plate and hang down. The tubular hoop attachments allow for quicker loading and unloading of garments.

Arm Type

An Arm Type machine is not a bridge machine. An arm type machine is a machine with the typical embroidery heads that look like sewing machine heads. Arm type machines have a neck and base all attached.

Arm type machines do not allow as much sewing area as the Bridge machines because the neck of the sewing head is at the back of the machine.

Bridge Type

A Bridge Type machine is not an arm machine. A bridge type machine has a long beam running across the machine that all the heads attach to. Because it has this beam, garments have much more room to pass under the heads because the heads do not have a neck.