ribbon-cable

Introduction

Ribbon cable is name given to custom designed cable in which bunch of separately insulated conductors are bonded together in straight and flat parallel fashion. It’s a family of multi-colored (or possibly of same color) conductors having similar physical and chemical properties, and are bonded together. All the conductors of a Ribbon cable are joined to Headers and Connectors at both ends.

Following is a typical Ribbon Cable.

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Fig1. Typical Ribbon Cable

 

Parts

Ribbon Cable has two main parts: Headers and Wires. Wires are meant to transfer electric power while headers are supposed to accommodate mass conductors. Usually termination is done at both ends of Ribbon cables, but sometimes only one end is terminated while the other end gets terminated in a regular crimp or connection of soldier-bucket type.

ribbon-cable-03  ribbon-cable-04

        A                          B

 

Fig2.         (A) Male Connector for IDC termination

               (B) Female Connector for IDC termination

 

Construction

Ribbon cables are made through three basic methods after the individual conductors have been selected. These methods are following:

     1. Adhesive Bonding

     2. Thermal Fusion

     3. Envelope

 

1. Adhesive Bonding

In this method, the bonding edges of two adjacent individual wires are glued together using an adhesive, and individual wires get bonded together to form Ribbon Cable.

2. Thermal Fusion

First, the bonding edges of the insulation of adjacent wires are heated, and after that all the wires are passed through a glue type substance under pressure which fuses the insulation.

3. Envelope

First, each wire is made Teflon insulated by “enveloping” them in Teflon covering, and then they are run parallel through a matched roll calendar. By this way, Teflon tapes are introduced between the rolls and conductors.

 

Advantages, Disadvantages

     Advantages

  • Sometimes, round cables can’t be fixed in some areas, like narrow rectangular openings etc. Hence in this case, Ribbon Cable is the best alternative.
  • These cables are in chunk; hence have high current rating.
  • They are very flexible, and thus can be molded into any desired shape.
  • In case Connectors go out of order, they can be replaced very easily

    Disadvantages

  • The envelope technique of their preparation is not too much flexible and is expensive as well.
  • They are very delicate and require extreme care while handling.
  • The Adhesive Bonding method may result in degradation of its insulation.

 

Applications

Ribbon Cables are frequently used for the purpose of interconnection between two peripherals in computers, ovens, students electronics projects, etc.  For instance, below is the picture of a student’s electronics project.

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Fig3. Ribbon cable for interconnecting LCD and Arduino

 

As it can be seen, Ribbon cable has been used to interconnect LCD and Arduino Module.

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