Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Are Flat Ribbon Cables and Why Are They Used for?

About Ribbon cables Electronic Parts and Its Product Range:

A ribbon cable can be described as a cable with multiple conducting wires that run parallel with each other on the same plane. As a result, the cable is wide and flat, hence the name flat ribbon cable. Its name is also due to the fact that the cable itself resembles a piece of ribbon, although it is also known as a multi-wire planar cable. Their main function is for use in the internal peripherals in computers, which includes hard drives, CD drives, and floppy drives. However, in the past, they have also been used for external connections, such as in older computer systems like the Apple II series or the BBC micro. Now, more recently, round cables are replacing this altogether as the more efficient component used for external connections and are also starting to be used more frequently in internal connections?

The main purpose of this is to allow mass termination to insulation-displacement connectors (IDC). The following connectors are all suitable for it: BT224 connectors, D-subminiature connectors, DIN 41612 connectors, PCB transition headers, and DIL headers.

Ribbon cables were originally invented back in 1956 by Cicoil Corporation in California. At this time, engineers discovered that silicone rubber could be used to essentially mold a flat cable which contained multiple conductors. These so-called flexible cables began to replace the bulky and round cables. Companies such as IBM and Sperry/Univac spearheaded this change as they were the first companies to initiate this change. The initial use was in such applications as mainframe computers, card readers, card punching machines, and tape machines. As the use of ribbon cables became more commonplace, companies such as 3M and others began manufacturing them as well. Additional methods and better materials were eventually developed to reduce the cost and increase efficiency of these cables by standardizing the design. Nowadays, these are a staple in most computers, printers, and other electronic devices due to their low-cost, high-efficiency, and their standard nature. The pioneer of this movement, Cicoil Corporation, also continued to develop additional flat ribbon cables in the decades to come, including products that allowed the USA to put the first person on the moon. They provided many products to US government organizations and NASA. Today, they continue to manufacture these products, which are used in various applications such as missiles, satellites, semiconductors, manufacturing equipment, and medical equipment, as well as other military, aerospace, and automated machinery applications around the world.

What began has a handful of manufacturers several decades ago when there were first invented has grown to a more comprehensive list of manufacturers. Alpha Wire, Assmann WSW Components, Cicoil, CNC Tech, Daburn Electronics, Harting, Molex Inc, Omron Automation and Safety, Phoenix Contact, TE Connectivity, Weidmuller, and 3M (some of which were mentioned above) are all popular manufacturers of flat cables, although there are scores of others in the industry as well.

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