Ribbon cables are tucked away in cramped spaces, hard at work and helping maintain the functionality of many facilities across a wide array of industries. Their flat construction makes them easy to identify, and their ability to be customized makes them a valuable option for companies looking at updating electronic internals for their computers, equipment, and machinery.
The history of ribbon cables dates back to the mid-1950s to the dawn of the computer age. File footage and photographs show the original size of the first major computational systems, complete with complicated messes of cables. Since ribbon cables are flat, they were an ideal solution to help make these systems be more organized. Construction of ribbon cables became more structured, standardized, and available at a low cost. Furthermore, it was a convenient solution for a number of mechanical applications where space was at a premium.
Ribbon cables can be referred to as flat cable or multi-planar cable. On a lighter note, there is a variation of ribbon cable that is color-coded by the colors of the rainbow. Thus, it is referred to as “hippy cable”. The key thing to remember is that whether using an official name or a tongue-in-cheek colloquial nickname, all members of the team need to be on the same page as miscommunication over details like these can problematic.
Though there are some areas where ribbon cables are more likely to be found, it may be surprising to see just how omnipresent this perceived ‘simple’ technology really is. Ribbon cables can be found in the following:

  • lighting assemblies
  • used in data transmission
  • CD drives
  • patient monitoring systems in healthcare settings
  • consumer appliances, which are becoming more digital & less analog
  • surface-mount technology (SMT) for printed circuit boards (PCBs)
  • industrial controls
  • data storage systems, vital in a day & age of consumer privacy

    The final area where ribbon cables are to be found has to do with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). First, it’s important to have a basic understanding of IoT. This is a network/system created made up of physical elements in a facility. These elements are machinery, equipment, etc.. They are able to connect with other networks/systems via the internet. As they interact with each other, they provide information, in real time, about any particular type of data wanted. Well-designed and engineered ribbon cables can help companies streamline their IoT capabilities. This means a chance to greatly improve automation (e.g., facility monitoring systems, self-monitoring equipment, energy consumption & conservation systems), and so much more.
    However, none of this is possible without a manufacturer who understands how to make the ideal ribbon cables for the job. LoDan Electronics, Inc. in Chicago has been an industry leader in cost-effective, custom-engineered interconnect solutions since 1967. We’ve built our company around excellence and a customer first philosophy. Click here to connect with us about your next ribbon cables project.