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Things to Consider for Choosing the Right Ribbon Cables

Popularly known as planar cables or flat ribbon cables, ribbon cables are wide, flat, rectangularly shaped cables that resemble ribbons. Generally, each ribbon cable features a parallel wire that runs on a flat plane; this distinct design allows them to be used in compact operational environments. To learn more about these electrical components, this blog will provide a brief overview of how ribbon cables work and where they are used.

Different Types of Ribbon Cables

Ribbon cables are available in a few basic styles and configurations, those of which we will outline from most frequently utilized to least common.

1. Standard

Standard ribbon cables are identified by their gray color and are often used in mass termination applications.

2. Rainbow

Rainbow ribbon cables are color-coded standard cables that are employed when organization and identification is necessary. In some instances, each colored ribbon is divided into individual terminations.

3. Round-to-Flat

Round-to-flat cables, as their name suggests, start with a circular shape and flatten into a ribbon, enabling them to be adaptable and flexible in tight spaces.

4. Twisted Flat

Serving as a variation of standard ribbon cables, twist flat cables feature a pair of conductors that are twisted and coned together. They are designed with alternating twisted and untwisted parallel sections so that present connectors and PCB headers can be terminated with conventional IDC ribbon cabling techniques.

5. Bonded

While bonded ribbon cables are not flexible like their counterparts, they simplify mass termination. Additionally, their bonded design ensures that all cables are organized from one end to the other.

How to Choose the Right Ribbon Cable

When you are deciding which ribbon cable you require for your operations, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

  • Pitch refers to the space between conductors within a ribbon cable. Common pitch measurements range from 0.5mm to 2mm, and the correct pitch varies according to ribbon cable requirements for a particular application.
  • Extreme temperatures have a major impact on the optimal functionality of ribbon cables. For example, basic ribbon cables may work perfectly fine in moderate temperatures, while high-temperature environments require that ribbon cables be equipped with a silicon jacket for additional protection.
  • Flexibility is critical where there is limited space, meaning that you may need to order a customized ribbon cable with greater flexibility.
  • Service life is guaranteed when you ensure that your ribbon cables have been tested and rated for longevity.
  • Fire Resistance is important for the safety and functionality of most electrical devices. As such, you should choose a ribbon cable that is fully compliant with the fire safety regulations associated with its intended application.


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