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Author Archives: MarVac Content Team

  1. Types of Ribbon Cables

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    Ribbon cables, sometimes called planar cables or flat ribbon cables, feature a wide, flat shape, which resembles a ribbon. Each ribbon cable includes several conducting wires that run parallel to each other on a flat plane. This distinctive shape makes them easy to use in applications with limited space. In this blog, we’ll discuss the different types of ribbon cables to help you choose the right option for your application.


    5 Types of Ribbon Cables Explained

    So, how many ribbon cables are there? They can typically be categorized into five types, including:

    • Standard: Easily recognized by its gray color, a standard ribbon cable is commonly used for mass termination applications. 
    • Rainbow: Rainbow ribbon cables are constructed similarly to standard ribbon cables, except they are color-coded. This makes them easier to organize and identify.
    • Twisted Flat: This variant of standard ribbon cables features pairs of conductors that are twisted and bonded together, with alternating twisted and untwisted parallel sections. Because they have sections that are untwisted, connectors and PCB headers can be terminated with conventional IDC ribbon cabling methods.
    • Round-to-Flat: This ribbon cable begins as a circular bundle and then flattens into a ribbon shape, making it useful for tight spaces.
    • Bonded: Bonded ribbon cables aren’t as flexible as other ribbon cable types but simplify mass termination. Their bonded design facilitates improved cable organization from one end to the other. 


    Choosing a Ribbon Cable

    When between types of ribbon cables for a specific application, it’s important to consider the following factors:

    • Pitch: Pitch refers to the space between conductors within a ribbon cable. Typical pitch measurements include 0.5mm, 1mm, 1.25mm, and 2mm –  the pitch you choose will depend on your specific application requirements. 
    • Flexibility: Standard ribbon cables offer a high level of flexibility. Depending on your space requirements, you may need a customized ribbon cable solution with even greater flexibility. 
    • Life Span: It’s important to choose ribbon cables that have been thoroughly tested and rated for longevity.
    • Fire Resistance: Fire resistance is critical to the safety and functionality of electrical devices. Make sure to select ribbon cables that adhere to your application’s fire safety regulations. 
    • Extreme Temperatures: While standard ribbon cables work well in moderate temperatures, higher-temperature applications may require ribbon cables with silicon jackets for added protection.


    Ribbon Cable Applications and Uses

    The flat shape of ribbon cables can sometimes make them difficult to handle. For example, when used externally for computer-related applications, they can block airflow. For this reason, they are mainly used inside electronic devices rather than outside of them. 

    Common applications of ribbon cables include but are not limited to:

    • Board-to-Board Interface
    • Instrumentation and Measurement 
    • Lighting 
    • Medical Equipment
    • Aerospace Devices
    • Defense Equipment
    • Robotics


    Learn More About Types of Custom Ribbon Cables

    The unique flat shape of ribbon cables makes them well-suited for use within various electrical devices, ranging from medical equipment and robotics to lighting, computer systems, and more. Understanding the different types of ribbon cables is key to choosing the right option for your application. 

    At MarVac Assemblies, we can manufacture a wide range of custom wire harness assemblies, including ribbon cable, single-lead, multi-conductor, and twisted pairs. We can work with both stranded and solid wire ranging from 2 to 24 AWG, and our superior wire harness services meet WHMA/IPC-A-620 standards. 

    To learn more about our custom wire harness assemblies for ribbon cables, contact us or request information today.

  2. What Are Wiring Harnesses?

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    What are wiring harnesses, and what significance do they have for electrical and electronic (E/E) device designs? A wiring harness is a protective outer covering or sheath that holds a group of electrical wires or cables together.

    For many applications, wiring harnesses are an ideal way to simplify and standardize the assembly of components that require complex wiring systems. Installers can work with the wires as a pre-assembled unit rather than attaching and configuring each one separately within the device. This improves product uniformity and reduces the chances that any connections are skipped.

    The design of a custom wiring harness must take several factors into account, including the number and type of signals being transmitted, voltage requirements, and environmental conditions like exposure to extreme temperatures, corrosive substances, dirt, or water. 

    Wiring harnesses have many advantages for E/E devices and components, such as:

    • Organizing device wire layouts
    • Simplifying workflows
    • Easy identification of wire assemblies
    • Reducing wire and cable clutter at workstations
    • Easier troubleshooting
    • Reducing electric shock risk during wiring
    • Maximizing space for airflow and components inside devices


    Materials for Wiring Harnesses

    What are wiring harnesses made of? It’s essential to select a sheath material that meets the specific needs of the application, such as thickness and flexibility, thermal insulation, moisture resistance, chemical resistance, temperature protection, or UV resistance. Common choices include:

    • PVC
    • Vinyl
    • Thermoplastic elastomers
    • Polyurethane
    • Polyethylene


    Cable Harness Vs. Wiring Harness

    A common question customers ask is, what is the difference between a cable harness and a wiring harness? They have similarities, but there are some notable differences.

    Cable assemblies tend to be used with point-to-point wiring connections. They may include multiple legs or loopbacks; however, in general, they are a pre-bundled group of cables or wires.

    Wire harnesses are generally more complex and are an excellent choice for creating a custom group of wires or cables within a device or component. Designers have the ability to include exactly the wires or cables needed for the application and plan out how they should be routed on installation. 


    Where Are Wiring Harnesses Used?

    There are many applications for wiring harnesses across industries. In any situation where handling numerous separate wires becomes cumbersome or counterproductive, wiring harnesses are an effective solution. They are also critical in protecting delicate wires and connections from damage and environmental conditions.

    The following are examples of industries and applications that depend on wiring harnesses to simplify and organize complex wire systems:

    • Automotive, aviation, and transportation: Vehicles use wires and cables to relay electrical signals for sensors, control units, lights, actuators, batteries, and more. Harnesses also provide protection against the elements and corrosion.
    • Telecommunications: Harnesses for data transmission wires minimize wiring errors while protecting wires from harsh operating conditions and temperature extremes. 
    • Flat screens and control panels: Harnesses keep wires and cables compact and neatly grouped in small spaces like thin screen assemblies and panel instrumentation.
    • Durable IT equipment: In heavy industrial and military settings, harnesses protect sensitive electronics from dust, weather, and abrasions. 
    • Industrial machinery, manufacturing, and construction equipment: Harnesses keep similar wires together and located away from moving parts, heat, exhaust fumes, and other hazards.
    • Home appliances: Wiring harnesses streamline appliance assembly in factories and for professional appliance installation.
    • Medical equipment and devices: Harnesses keep exposed and enclosed wires away from staff and patients and protect wires from dirt, liquids, and physical damage.


    Learn More About Custom Wiring Harnesses From MarVac Assemblies

    MarVac Assemblies helps your team make short work of complex electrical connections and assemblies with a range of products and services. We specialize in custom wire harness assemblies, supporting the safe and efficient wiring needs of numerous industries. Additional capabilities include wire processing, sleeving, box builds, value-added electronic component assembly, soldering, kitting, packaging, and more. 

    Contact us to learn more about our services, or request a quote to connect with our experts about your next wiring application.