Frequently Asked Questions: Ribbon Cable

Ribbon Cables

Ribbon Cables

What is ribbon cable?

This cable gets its name from the way it looks. It is composed of a lot of conducting wires lined up side-by-side, to create flat, wide cabling, which resembles a ribbon. It is also known as flat cable or multi-planar cable.

Why use ribbon cables?

Ribbon cables are often used when space is a factor. They lay flat and take up very little room. Because they are flat, they can run beneath carpeting, which is very convenient. They can also be mass terminated easily.

What are some common applications for ribbon cabling?

Ribbon cabling is used for data transmission and communications. It is often chosen for computer cable applications, where it is used as internal wiring for hard drives, CD drives, and more. Ribbon cables are also commonly used as internal wiring for other electronics and appliances. They can be found in test and measuring equipment, automated termination equipment, robotics, and pick and place equipment as well.

Are there any disadvantages to choosing ribbon cables?

This type of cable does not allow for sideways flexing, so it may only be used in straight-run applications.

How do I determine which size I need?

Ribbon cables are often specified with the number of conductors and the spacing between them. With this type of cable, the conductors may also be referred to as ways. The spacing is known as pitch. The most common pitch for ribbon cabling is 0.050 inches or 1.27 millimeters.

Why is there a red stripe on the edge of my ribbon cabling?

The red stripe located on one edge of the gray ribbon cable serves as an identification stripe during the installation process. It is used to prevent reversed connections, which could be damaging to electronics. Generally, the red conductor is paired with pin 1 on a connector.

Do the colors used in rainbow ribbon cable have any significance?

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.

Who are the major manufacturers of ribbon cables?

Hitachi Cable is one of the biggest manufacturers of flat cable supplied by Allied. Hitachi Cable manufacture a wide variety of products, including microzip, high flex, round to flat, halogen-free, micro quick-twist, grey, and rainbow ribbon cables, in addition to ribbonized automation cables. From basic to specialized Hitachi cables, Allied has what you need.

Which types of ribbon cabling are available from Allied Wire & Cable?

Allied supplies a wide variety of Hitachi cables, including:

If you don’t see what you need, contact a sales representative at 800-472-4655, and we’ll find it for you.

What is round to flat cable?

Round to flat cable is cabling made with a flat cable core which is twisted or folded into a round shape before it is taped. It is available in double-shielded braided versions and in shielded or unshielded constructions. It is called round to flat cable because the majority of the cable appears in a round formation, but the ends show the flat cable core, enabling use with IDC connectors.

Are value-added services available for ribbon cables?

Yes, Allied offers value added services for ribbon cables.

How are ribbon cables terminated?

Ribbon cabling is often terminated with IDC connectors. These allow for mass termination of the conductors by forcing the ends into a line of bladed slots which slice through the cable’s insulation and then grip the wire to form a tight connection.


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