Hobbyists and some home sewing individuals who are searching for the cheapest industrial sewing machine is expected in the age of Amazon. However, when sewn product operations are looking for the lowest priced machines for their factories, a real problem is developing. A few years’ time has already shown us insight into this growing issue and how it is harming sewing production lines. If your business makes sewn products, this article is to inform you of the risks versus rewards involved with using cut-rate options for your business. As for the hobbyists who purchase from “the internet”, just make sure to call “the internet” when your sewing machine starts acting up.

Disposable Machines Hurt more than Help

“Throw Away Machines” are flooding the market. We have seen manufacturers of these machines offer little to no support for repairs. The more supportive dealers have a hard time locating parts, because these bargain models are a hodgepodge of designs – copies of multiple, major manufacturers’ machines. The picture is worse in dealing with the less supportive sellers. Some of these look-alike brands are a mishmash of three major designs, have similar parts to three different machines, but good luck figuring out this puzzle and finding the part you need.  Within the industry, we hear individuals and small shops are having a terrible time attempting to fix any little issue, while larger assembly lines are running into bigger problems.

A major bedding company, a long-time customer of ours, ordered a load of these dummy contraptions to make their mattress line. In a year their productivity increased, and they called to acquire another machine or two. The machine model they wanted was no longer available. In fact, it had changed several times over the course of that year. This became a pattern. The bedding company requested more of the same model the following year, and that model was unavailable. They found themselves with a jumbled collection on the factory floor. Now, this may not sound like a problem until you consider that each of these look-alikes is a Frankenstein’s Monster of designs and parts. Ultimately, they were able to repair some but abandoned most of their mixed bag. This year, they started buying the major brands again to keep their production running.

This is a long-time lesson that they could afford to learn because they are part of a larger corporation, but what about the medium and smaller shops? Might they be crushed by the doom of an unrepairable operations line? What will come of them when they cannot get support for their main industrial machines?

Here is a snapshot of another customer we earned from a failed knock-off. They came to us because there was no effective support to help them get their $20K programmable backup and running. Sure, they saved 50% on the purchase of this automated machine, but once it stopped, it became a hat rack and was removed from the production floor to collect dust near the break area. They were fed up with their vendor, this machine, and the lack of support and knowledge. They found us on a google search. Since finding us, they have purchased about 5 new automated Brothers and their business is growing rapidly. They came back again and purchased another 5 Juki machines a little later. And they always buy genuine parts. A takeaway here is that they had the demand for a product to warrant the purchase of top quality.  The key point is that they will be able to continue production without issue because they are using actual industrial sewing machines from real manufacturers. 

Even Real Brands Are Making Mistakes

We see a bad outcome from the Throw Away Machines, for anyone who has their business based on sewn products. Maybe hobbyists won’t mind if they lose their entire investment on a machine, but we doubt that too. 

To make matters worse, manufacturers like, well, we’ll just call them; ZACK, have a more profound effect on the industry by flooding the market with their Throw Away machines. The long-standing, high-grade sewing machine brands are left to rethink their strategy as cut-rate disposable machines are gaining traction across the globe. This decline in quality machines cannot be blamed on the copycat manufacturers alone, however. It takes two to Tango. The demand from many cost-cutting customers created a market space for these machines in the first place. 

The Japanese companies, Brother and Juki have long been leaders that we can depend on. However, there have been some instances of lower-cost models coming out to compete in the disposable market. The last Juki sergers in the 6700 series had an introductory cost of $932. With the release of the latest 6800 series, we have a lower introductory cost of $632.00. That’s about a 3rd of the cost being lopped off the top. We are forecasting that if this trend continues, there could be a decline in quality as Juki attempts to compete with the low cost of disposable sewing machines. Ugh. Still, we remain hopeful with Juki however, because they have figured out ways in the past to stay competitive without sacrificing quality. 

Carmaker examples would be trite to mention here, but do you know what happened when Mercedes Benz made a cheapo car for bargain buyers? People got skeptical of Mercedes after the introduction of the first-generation A-Class.  The design was an attempt to compete with the fuel-saving family hatchbacks of the late nineties. The little jellybean shaped car had cloth seats, no horsepower, and still was priced a little higher than the competing models of the time. It did not perform or live up to the brand’s long-running reputation. It didn’t sell. It bombed horribly. 

Whatever happened to the A-Class? It got a complete overhaul on design and power. They did not completely abandon the idea to compete with lower-cost cars, but they quit competing with the bottom line of manufacturers. They learned from their mistake. Obviously, the carmaker still creates automobiles that last for a good 30 years, but their brand lost some of its’ luster with this seemingly desperate marketing move. We hope that the brand name leaders in our industry will quickly finish with their mistakes and realize that they cannot compete with cheap machines like Zack and the hundreds of other cut-rate machines being thrown together with haphazard designs and random parts. 

How to Protect your Sewing Production 

The cheap Chinese Zacks and Jarki’s aren’t going anywhere, but most real manufacturers will not be swayed by an inferior machine that speaks poor English and carries a lower price tag. If you are reading up until this point, then perhaps you have been considering the purchase of a bargain-basement machine. The need to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market space is understandable but buying low-price machines today will come with a high price – not too far down the road. Maybe look around your business and find another way to save a few bucks instead. When your machine has an issue, as they all do, you’ll need to be able to repair it. When you can call a partner like us or another high-quality vendor, you’ll find your part easily. You can then give yourself a pat on the back for being a responsible adult who makes good decisions. Otherwise, you’ll have to call Amazon and see if they can help you with the needle timing issue, or in locating that little screw you need. We’re sure that Jeff Bezos will drop what he’s doing and facetime your phone so you can work out your problem on that knock-off brand machine you bought from him for a couple hundred dollars. 

Since we’re forecasting possible mistakes from even the highest quality brands, it will be good to keep up with industry updates. We’ll be on the lookout for new rollouts from these guys and keeping an eye on anything that doesn’t seem to follow their regular pricing schedule. Of necessity, we do understand the purchase of cheap machinery in some cases, but we still expect the best from the major brands. We follow the Brother, Juki, Yamato, Union Special, Kansai Special, Consew, and Mitsubishi online and get emailed and sometimes even snail mail about their lineup changes and updates to their core offerings. You can also stay informed, or get caught up quickly, by following our Industrial Cut Sew Blog. Just sign up to get our newsletter and we will make sure you are in the loop with industry updates.