What is an embroidery card reader?

Written by amy marie
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What is an embroidery card reader?
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An embroidery card reader is a device that reads embroidery cards. Embroidery cards are computer memory cards that store digitised embroidery designs. Sophisticated computerised sewing machines and dedicated embroidery machines can read the digitised design from a card and embroider it on fabric, hats or clothing.

Embroidery card devices can be either a reader or a reader/writer. A reader/writer can store designs on embroidery cards as well as read designs from embroidery cards. Storing a digitised design on an embroidery card is also called writing to a card.

Alternate names

Many major embroidery machine manufacturers refer to their embroidery cards and devices by different names. For example, Pfaff calls its embroidery cards "Smart Cards," and the embroidery card reader is the "Creative Smart Card Station."

Embroidery card devices and cards made by third-party companies also go by different names. When searching for third-party embroidery card devices, look for product names such as Ultimate Box or Magic Box, or descriptions such as embroidery design transfer systems.


Embroidery card devices may be either internal or external devices. An internal device is built directly into an embroidery machine, much like a CD drive is built into a computer. An external device is attached to an embroidery machine or computer through a connector. Most external readers attach to the embroidery machine or computer through a USB connector.


To work with an embroidery card, insert it into a slot in the embroidery card device. The embroidery cards are usually marked with an arrow to indicate the direction in which to insert them. Some embroidery card devices have multiple slots to accommodate different-size embroidery cards.


Each computerised sewing machine or embroidery machine will only work with designs in specific formats. Check with your machine manufacturer to find out which formats the machine will accept. Embroidery card devices that attach to a computer can often be used to convert embroidery designs to different formats.


Newer computerised sewing machines and embroidery machines are built with a USB connection that allows direct communication between the machine and a computer, obviating the need for an embroidery card reader. Designs sold on CDs or DVDs are less expensive than designs sold on embroidery cards because the media is cheaper. CD- and DVD-based embroidery design collections also contain more patterns because they hold more data than embroidery cards.

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