Common Circuit Board Connector Types

Board-to-board circuit board connector

Board-to-board circuit board connector

Circuit board connectors are critical components in electronic systems, designed to provide reliable electrical connections between different parts of the circuit. Their primary purpose is to ensure that signals and power are transmitted between various system elements, facilitating the device’s proper functioning. These connectors also enable easy assembly, maintenance, and reconfiguration of electronic circuits, contributing to the modularity and scalability of the design. There are three main circuit board connector types: wire-to-wire, wire-to-board, and board-to-board.

Circuit Board Connector Types: Main Categories

Wire-to-Wire

Butt connectors are a type of wire-to-wire connector

Butt connectors are a type of wire-to-wire connector

A wire-to-wire circuit board connector serves as an interface that allows for the direct electrical connection between two or more wires within an electronic system, facilitating the transmission of signals or power. This type of connector is designed to securely join individual wire conductors to a PCB without soldering, providing a reliable and easily detachable connection.

Wire-to-wire connectors are essential in various applications, ranging from consumer electronics to industrial machinery. They ensure efficient, robust, and flexible electrical connectivity while simplifying the assembly, maintenance, and reconfiguration of electronic circuits.

Wire-to-Wire Connectors

Connector Type

Description

Application

Best Practices

Crimp Connector

Connectors with crimped ends that attach to wires and then connect to each other

Automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment

Ensure proper crimping tools and techniques are used for secure connections

Splice Connector

Connectors that join two wires together permanently or semi-permanently

Electrical wiring, automotive, and home appliances

Use insulation and strain relief to prevent wire damage.

Butt Connector

Cylindrical connectors used to join two wires end-to-end

Automotive and marine wiring repairs

Use heat shrink tubing for additional insulation and protection

Wire-to-Board

A pin and socket connector is a type of wire-to-board connector

A pin and socket connector is a type of wire-to-board connector

A wire-to-board circuit board connector facilitates the direct electrical connection between individual wires and a PCB. This connector type ensures that signals or power can be efficiently transmitted from discrete wires to the PCB, providing a reliable and easily detachable interface. It is crucial in various applications, including consumer electronics, automotive systems, and industrial equipment, where secure, durable, and straightforward connections are required.

Using wire-to-board connectors, manufacturers can streamline the assembly process, improve maintenance and repair efficiency, and enhance overall flexibility and modularity using wire-to-board connectors.

Wire-to-Board Connectors

Connector Type

Description

Application

Best Practices

Header Connector

Simple pin connectors that can be straight or right-angle, single or double row

General connections, peripheral devices

Ensure proper alignment to avoid bent pins and maintain reliable connections

Insulation Displacement Connector (IDC)

Allows wires to connect without stripping insulation

Ribbon cables in computers and electronic devices

Verify proper seating of wires in the connector to ensure reliable connections

Terminal Block

Screw-down connectors clamping wires in place

Power supply, industrial applications, and high-current connections

Tighten screws adequately to prevent loose connections and potential arcing

Flat Flexible Cable/Flexible Printed Circuit (FFC/FPC)

Flat cable connectors connecting flexible circuits to a PCB

Consumer electronic devices like laptops, cameras, and smartphones

Handle with care to avoid damaging the flexible cable during insertion

Molex Connector (refers to pin and socket connector type standardized by Molex Corporation)

Multi-pin connectors for wire-to-board connections

Consumer electronics, automotive, and appliances

Ensure proper orientation during connection to prevent damage to pins and sockets

Board-to-Board

Card edge connectors are a type of board-to-board connector

Card edge connectors are a type of board-to-board connector]

A board-to-board circuit board connector is designed to establish a reliable electrical and mechanical connection between two PCBs within an electronic device. These connectors facilitate the seamless transmission of signals and power between PCBs, enabling complex multi-board configurations that enhance the functionality and performance of electronic systems.

Board-to-board connectors are essential in applications where space optimization, modularity, and scalability are critical, such as computing, telecommunications, and industrial automation. By allowing PCBs to be easily connected and disconnected, these connectors simplify assembly, maintenance, and upgrades, while also ensuring robust and precise alignment between the boards.

Board-to-Board Connectors

Connector Type

Description

Application

Best Practices

Card Edge Connector

Connectors allowing PCB edges to be inserted into a slot

Computer expansion cards, memory modules

Ensure the connector and PCB edge are clean to maintain good electrical contact

Mezzanine Connector

Low-profile connectors stacking one PCB on top of another

Portable devices like mobile phones and tablets

Align connectors carefully to avoid damage and ensure reliable connections

Pin Header and Socket

Male pin headers and matching female sockets connecting two PCBs

Development boards, modular systems

Use sockets with retention clips for more secure connections if necessary

Surface Mount Connector

Connectors soldered directly onto the PCB surface

High-density applications requiring vertical PCB stacking

Use proper soldering techniques to avoid cold solder joints and ensure strong connections

Backplane Connector

Connectors for multiple PCBs linking to a common backplane

Servers, mainframes, high-end computing systems

Ensure connectors are firmly seated to maintain reliable power and signal distribution

Coaxial Connector

Connectors for RF signals providing a shielded connection

Telecommunications, broadcasting, high-frequency signal applications

Use appropriate tools for crimping or soldering coaxial connectors to maintain signal integrity

Stacking Connector

Connectors designed to stack boards vertically in compact arrangements

High-density electronic assemblies, such as in smartphones and other compact devices

Ensure precise alignment and secure connections to avoid disconnections during operation

There are many options for sourcing your circuit board connectors. The best option is to use the largest online electronics library, which is relied upon and trusted by PCB engineers around the world. This will help ensure that you base your part selections and CAD models on vetted data and information from the manufacturer.

If you’re looking for CAD models for common components or important design information on circuit board connector types, Ultra Librarian helps by compiling all your sourcing and CAD information in one place.

Working with Ultra Librarian sets up your team for success to ensure streamlined and error-free design, production, and sourcing. Register today for free.

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