Industries dependent on electronic components are continually assessing the most minute parts of their machinery & equipment. While the majority of these items can be lost in a sea of greys and silvers, one item stands out for both its physical shape and sometimes colorful appearance — ribbon cables.
Unless you’ve looked inside of your home PC or television, you’ve likely never seen one of these cables. However, their development has been crucial to the skyrocketing ease of data transmission & communications in today’s technology. In fact, ribbon cables are found just about everywhere there is any kind of technology in an industry.
Also referred to as flat or planar cables (for obvious reasons), ribbon cables have a characteristic look to them that make them ideal for applications that, from an engineering standpoint, need to accomplish a lot in as little space as possible. Understanding the space and the overall application the ribbon cable will be used for is the first step in knowing how best to find the right cables for a project. If space is limited but there is a need to have a number of connections taking place simultaneously, ribbon cables can be an ideal solution.
Their construction makes them ideal for internal connections. Their build is lighter, thinner, and less rigid, allowing easier physical manipulation as compared to other types of cable.
While modern technology advances & components get smaller, the construction of ribbon cables remain critical for one important reason — consistency across basic electrical characteristics. Also, because of their flexible nature, there is a reduced risk of wiring & connecting mistakes to take place when compared to other cabling options.
Knowing the physical space ribbon cables will occupy, as well as what will be expected of them in term of functionality, will be key in knowing how best to proceed with their construction. Two key elements stand out: pitch and the number of conductors, also called ‘ways’. Pitch refers to the center to center spacing of conductors. There are standardized scales for each of these components when manufacturing ribbon cables. However, customization can take place as necessary based on the needs of the client.
Perhaps the other most notable part of ribbon cables that bears noting is the connector type. As would be expected, a different connector will come into play for different applications. Not only is the application of consequence, but so are logistical challenges and adverse environmental conditions (e.g., extreme heat and cold, dust).
The look, feel, durability, and physical make-up of ribbon cables make them ideal for a number of uses across a variety of industries. For example:

  • Robotics (also, pick and place equipment)
  • Computers/Hard Drives
  • Electronics (consumer or industrial)
  • Test & Measuring Equipment (e.g., aerospace, medical, military)
  • Connectivity in Limited Space
    Ribbon cables are color-coded for ease of installation & monitoring. Everything from conductors, conductor plating, stranding, and wire gauge can be specified when ordering cables. High on the list of priorities when ordering is ribbon cables is specifying application & environment.
    Ribbon cables have become a quintessential electronics component when working in tight confines is critical. Furthermore, their diverse functionality makes them an ideal choice when customizing transmission and connection needs.
    As one might imagine, not all ribbon cables are the same. Because they are not usually seen, confidence in their functionality is crucial. As such, the biggest factor in determining the quality of a ribbon cable is the experience & reputation of the manufacturer. The right manufacturing partner results in a final product on which a customer can depend. The same electronics manufacturing partner will also help lay the groundwork for future upgrades as a company’s needs change over time & allow them to be proactive.
    Can ribbon cables from Illinois level up your operation halfway around the world? Here at LoDan Electronics, Inc., we have been a go-to name for interconnect solutions since 1967. See why today.