Home > > Do I Specify IDC Ribbon Cables…
20 June 2022
Durable IndustrialHigh ReliabilityIn the IndustryTraining
Written byWendy JanePreston
Despite the rise of wireless, cables are still vitally important in modern electronics, and necessary within equipment enclosures. Both ribbon cabling and individual (discrete) wires are common, and both IDC and single crimp connections give reliable connectivity. So how do you choose?
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What is an IDC Connection?
IDC is an acronym for Insulation Displacement Contact or Connector. That name also describes the way the contact makes connection to the cable conductor.
The rear of the connector, where the cable connection is located, has two rows of twin fork shapes. Each of these shapes has sharp points and a U channel between. The two rows of forks are offset by half a pitch – for instance a 1.27mm pitch connector has the rows offset by 0.635mm, ready for a 0.635mm pitch ribbon cable.
When you push the ribbon cable onto the rows of contacts, the sharp points pierce through the insulating rubber material, pushing it out the way (displacing it). As you push the cable further down, the sides of the center conductor are now in contact with the inside faces of the U channel. The conductor is squeezed slightly, ensuring a good connection joint between the cable and the contact.
This is where the name comes from – the insulation is displaced by the contact beams.
What is a Discrete Cable?
To make sure we’re comparing like-for-like, we’ll quickly define discrete cabling. This is a connection method that involves single cables with a single conductor (stranded or solid). These are often called equipment wires. You would attach them to single contacts, one at a time – whether that’s by crimping or soldering. Solder cup contacts may be pre-assembled into the connector, but crimp contacts will also need assembling to the housing.
The BIG Advantage of IDC
It’s a really big advantage in terms of assembly processes – with IDC and ribbon cables, you’ll connect all your conductors in one action.
An IDC connector has a bar that goes over the back of the connections. This bar helps push the ribbon down into the right position. It also makes sure that in use, the cable stays on the contacts, and that the sharp beam ends are covered up.
If you’ve only got a few contacts in your connector, it might be possible to do this assembly just by hand. But the more contacts you have the more force you’ll need, so tooling is available to help. This tool works like a vice or clamp and helps push the contact, cable, and bar together.
Clearly, this process is much quicker than discrete single cables, where every single contact must be (a) stripped, (b) crimped or soldered, (c) inspected and (d) assembled into the housing (depending on contact type).
This is a big saving in time, which means saving in costs. So why are aren’t all cable assemblies using IDC and ribbon cables?
Why Discrete Cables Win over IDC
- Cable sizing: To make sure the ribbon cable conductor makes a good connection with the IDC contact, it’s important that the forks and U channel are exactly the right size. The IDC end of the contact must be designed for a specific cable size and type – including the difference between solid and stranded core. And all those connections must be the exact same wire size – no mixing cable sizes in one connector. With discrete contacts and cables, mixing is possible.
- Cable duplication: If you have multiple connectors in your designs for, say, 10, 20 and 40 contacts, then you also need to keep stock of 10, 20 and 40 conductor ribbon cables. With discrete cabling, you just use the same reel of cable for every connection. IDC requires more storage space for cabling, and less chance of discounts due to economies of scale.
- Cable routing: Ribbon construction can limit the amount of routing you can do with the cables. Bundles of individual cables are often more flexible, and each wire moves independently to get your harness through and round obstacles.
- Connector availability: Because IDC contacts are more difficult to design and the sizing issue limits their flexibility, there are just less connector choices out there. And ribbon cable sizes normally stop at 22 AWG, so that’s no good if you have higher current requirements.
Finally, it’s not generally a good design choice for high reliability connectors that need to withstand the extremes of vibration, shock and temperature.
The performance of the contact design for IDC contacts often doesn’t match the more rugged and capable contact design we use on connectors like Datamate and Gecko.
Making the Decision
So how do you choose? Consider that your options will often be dictated by the connector performance you need. Make sure you first know what specifications you need from the connector, as that may eliminate one or other connector type.
If you still have a cabling choice, consider if it’s a one off, whether you have cable routing restrictions, and whether there are ready-made cables available. If you’re making cable assemblies in house, do you have the tooling or training for a particular type already?
Harwin’s Experts are ready to help guide you through the variety of cable connection styles and can eliminate the problems of in-house limitations with ready-made cable assemblies – contact us today.
Not sure of the right product
If you would like to talk to someone about which product would be the right fit for your requirements, contact one of our Experts for assistance.
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What is IDC ribbon cable? ›
IDC is an acronym for Insulation Displacement Contact or Connector. That name also describes the way the contact makes connection to the cable conductor. The rear of the connector, where the cable connection is located, has two rows of twin fork shapes. Each of these shapes has sharp points and a U channel between.How do I identify a ribbon cable connector? ›
Ribbon cables are usually specified by two numbers: the spacing or pitch of the conductors, and the number of conductors or ways. A spacing of 0.05 inch (1.27 mm) is the most usual, allowing for a two-row connector with a pin spacing of 0.1 inch (2.54 mm).Which connectors use IDC termination? ›
Ribbon cable connectors: One of the most widely used formats with which IDC technology is used is for ribbon cable connector solutions. The ribbon cable connectors can be used for variety of different interfaces.What type of connector is IDC? ›
“An insulation-displacement contact (IDC), also known as insulation-piercing contact (IPC), is an electrical connector designed to be connected to the conductor(s) of an insulated cable by a connection process which forces a selectively sharpened blade or blades through the insulation, bypassing the need to strip the ...What is IDC cable used for? ›
IDC is generally used for mass termination for flat or ribbon cables.What is the code for ribbon cable? ›
The colors of rainbow ribbon cable are used to make conductor identification easier. The cables follow the standard color code of brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, gray, white, and black. After that, the colors repeat.How do I know what type of cord I have? ›
If the cable has a Type-A connector at one end (as in the above image), that will usually be the first type. The second will be the shape of connector that will plug into your device. Some cables have the same connector at both ends and are named accordingly—for example, a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable.What gauge is IDC ribbon cable? ›
The PVC insulated family of cables is available in various center spacings (30, 28, 26, 24, 22 and 18 AWG conductor sizes for a wide range of applications).What are 3 different cable types you might see? ›
Types of electric conductors
Flexible copper wire conductor: it is a set of fine wires covered by an insulating material. They are flexible and malleable. Single-core cable: a cable with a single conductor. Multi-core cable: a cable that has several conductors.
- Ribbon Electric Cables. It consists of multiple insulated wires running parallel with one another and is used for transmission of multiple data simultaneously. ...
- Shielded Cables. ...
- Twisted Pair Cables. ...
- Coaxial Cables. ...
- Fibre Optics Cable.
How do you connect a ribbon cable to an IDC connector? ›
Insert the cable into the IDC connector between the body of the connector and the plastic clip. Line up the end of the ribbon cable with the body of the connector so that it does not stick out past the body of the connector.What is IDC wire termination? ›
Insulation Displacement Connection (IDC) termination is the recommended method of copper termination recognized by ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A for UTP cable terminations. Commonly called punch-down connections, these connections require the use of a small punch-down tool to properly secure the cable to terminal block.Can you use IDC connectors on stranded wire? ›
IDC technology is suitable for both stranded and solid wires.What pitch is IDC cable? ›
0787") Pitch IDC Connectors, Terminals, and Sockets.Which connector is used for which type of cables? ›
RJ45 connectors are used for CAT6 cables and CAT5e cables. These connectors for twisted-pair Ethernet cables are similar in appearance to a standard telephone cord connector. They are wider, however, because they have eight conductors compared to only four conductors on a telephone jack.What are the 4 most commonly used analog connector types? ›
- The RCA Plug and Jack: The RCA is the most common connector type on consumer gear for composite and component video, as well as for both digital and analog audio. ...
- The BNC Plug and Jack: ...
- F-Connectors: ...
- The 4-pin mini-DIN Plug: ...
- The HD15 / mini dSub 15 / VGA connector:
Twisted pair, coaxial cables and fiber optic cable are three major network cable types in the communication systems. They have different cable structions, speed, bandwidth, and applications. All of them will benefit both in our daily life and in network construction work.What does IDC mean in telecommunication? ›
About IDC. International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets.Is flat cable the same as ribbon cable? ›
Ribbon cables, aka flat ribbon cables, are the most common types of cable used in the electronics we all use everyday.What is the difference between ribbon cable A type and B type? ›
"A Type" flat cable means --- the contacting side of the 2 top pin is on the same side(Both towards to up or down). "B Type" flat cable means --- the contacting side of the 2 top pin is on the opposite side(One towards to up, the other towards to down).
Are ribbon cables still used? ›
Because of the simplicity of ribbon cables, their low profile, and low cost due to standardization, ribbon cables are used today in most computers, printers, and many electronic devices.What is cable identifier? ›
The CI cable identifier will safely identify a dead (or de-energised) primary cable within a group of energised or de-energised cables. It can also indentify live secondary cables, including neutrals, up to 240 V AC (440 optional).Are there different types of cable cords? ›
There are different types of cables in the market, like HDMI cable, VGA cable, DVI cable, Ethernet cable, PS/2 cable, 3.5 mm audio cable, USB cable, and computer power cord cable.How many types of cables are there? ›
Types of cable are Twisted pair cable, coaxial cable, multi conductor cable and fiber optic cable.Are all ribbon cables the same? ›
Ribbon cables are called out by the number of conductors, often termed “ways,” and the spacing between them, known as “pitch.” While they can still be made in all sizes and variations, the most common pitch is 0.050 inches. Common conductor counts range from 4 to 80 conductors.What is the difference between IDC and IPC? ›
An insulation-displacement contact (IDC), also known as insulation-piercing contact (IPC), is an electrical connector designed to be connected to the conductor(s) of an insulated cable by a connection process which forces a selectively sharpened blade or blades through the insulation, bypassing the need to strip the ...Are ribbon cables interchangeable? ›
Ribbon cables are all installed the same way, but the cables themselves come in hundreds of different sizes and shapes. You cannot use a third-party cable to replace the ribbon cable on your specific device.How are wires classified? ›
The two categories of single-conductor wires are solid and stranded (also called braided). Solid wire is rigid and conducts electricity better. Stranded wire consists of smaller wires braided together.What are the 2 most common types of cable connectors? ›
Twisted pair cabling comes in two varieties: shielded and unshielded. Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) is the most popular and is generally the best option for school networks (See fig.How are cables classified according to construction? ›
Classification based upon voltage rating of the cable
Super tension cables: These have a maximum voltage handling capacity of 33 kV. Extra high tension cables: These have a maximum voltage handling capacity of 66 kV. Extra super voltage cables: These are used for applications with voltage requirement above 132 kV.
What is cable specification? ›
Cable Specifications means the drawings and specifications regarding the Cable, the Cable Accessories, and related hardware and materials to be employed in the installation and splicing of the Cable.What is the two types of cables? ›
Twisted Pair Cables has two or more insulated copper wires twisted with each other and coded with color. Twisted Pair cables are especially used in telephone cables. The number of wires can measure the resistance to external interference. Coaxial Cables are made of solid copper or steel conductor plated with copper.What are the six 6 main types of cable tray? ›
- Ladder Type Cable Tray.
- Solid Bottom Cable Tray.
- Trough Cable Tray.
- Channel Cable Tray.
- Wire Mesh Cable Tray.
- Single Rail Cable Tray.
Thread the ribbon cable into the socket and push the socket together with your hands until the metal pins start to touch the ribbon. Check the alignment of the socket's metal pins, make sure the ribbon cable is centered under the pins properly. Use a bench vice to clamp the socket onto the ribbon cable.Can you splice a ribbon cable? ›
Ribbon cables also enable mass-fusion splicing, whereby each 12-fiber ribbon can be spliced in a single, straightforward procedure. This facilitates fast network installation and restoration after cable cuts.What is a ribbon cable used for? ›
Ribbon cables are usually used as interconnects for internal peripherals in computers, such as hard drives, CD drives, and floppy drives. On some older computer systems they were also used for external connections.What is a disadvantage of ribbon cable? ›
Drawbacks of Ribbon Fiber
There is no control over how the ribbon is oriented inside the cable, so any bending of the ribbon fiber could be perpendicular to its longitudinal ribbon axis, which can cause stress on the fiber. This damages the cable and causes insertion loss (loss of signal power).
Ribbon cables, also known as multi-wire planar cables, are flat cables with multiple cords fixed together. They're generally considered obsolete these days, but you may occasionally find them inside some TVs, laptops, gaming systems, and printers.What are IDC called? ›
An insulation-displacement contact (IDC), also known as insulation-piercing contact (IPC), is an electrical connector designed to be connected to the conductor(s) of an insulated cable by a connection process which forces a selectively sharpened blade or blades through the insulation, bypassing the need to strip the ...What is IDC in connectivity? ›
The IDC is a legacy solution for enabling Web browsers to access, read, and modify information in databases, but it is still viable for small environments with limited requirements. The IDC provides excellent performance using open database connectivity (ODBC) versions 3 and later.
What does IDK and IDC mean? ›
IDK = I Don't Know. IDC = I Don't Care.What gauge wire is ribbon cable? ›
Ribbon Cable, Unshielded, 10 Conductor, 24 AWG, 0.20 mm², 32.8 ft, 10 m.How do I know what gauge cable to use? ›
To determine what gauge wire you need, consider the carrying capacity and the amount of current the wire needs to conduct (measured in amperage or amps). Wire gauge is directly related to how many amps you need to run through it. The distance you need the wire to go can also impact the gauge of wire you need.