Wire-to-Board Connector Types

March 13, 2024 / Sam Tang
A connector in electronics is a component that connects two (or more) conductors, thus enabling power or/and singals goes through one conductor to the other.

What is wire to board connector?

The wire-to-board connector is a type of connector that connects a group of discrete wires to a printed circuit board. They vary in circuit sizes (number of contacts), number of rows, pitch (pin-to-pin distance), current rating, applicable wires, etc.
Wire-to-board connector (also known as cable to board connector) is a type of connector that connects a group of discrete wires (or cable) to a printed circuit board. They vary in circuit sizes (number of contacts), number of rows, pitch (pin-to-pin distance), current rating, applicable wires, etc.
molex micro-fit 3.0 mm connectors
Circuit size is the number of contacts or pins a connector has. 
Number or row(s):
single row
dual row
Common circuit size of wire to board connector is 2 to 30 (2*15). 
Pitch of a connector, is the pin to pin distance of two neighbouring contacts.
There are board connectors, wire connectors, and terminals in a wire-to-board connection system.

A board connector (also known as PCB header or PCB connector) is a connector that is soldered onto a printed circuit board, which connects with a wire connector.

Wire connector (also called housing) holds the crimped wires for mating with the PCB header.
wire to board connection system

Wire-to-board connectors are often categorized by the soldering technology and wire termination technology as follows.

  • SMT (Surface Mount Technology) Type – PCB Connector
  • Through-Hole Type – PCB Connector
  • Crimping Style – Wire Connector
  • IDC (also known as IDT) Connectors – Wire Connector

SMT (Surface Mount) Type - Board Connector

An SMT connector is mounted directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board. There are side entry (right angle) type and top entry (vertical or straight) type.
top entry
side entry
SMT connectors are usually packaged in reels for automatic processing, which reduces cost and improves quality.
But the processing equipment is expensive.

The good news is that there are EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Service) providers worldwide who offer the processing service.

Through-Hole Type - Board Connector

A through-hole connector is soldered after the contacts are placed into drilled holes on the PCB. It creates a stronger bond between connectors and the PCB.
right angle
The advantage of a though-hole connector is that it is perfect for larger components that will undergo high power, high voltage, and mechanical stress.

The Disadvantage of the through-hole type is that you have to drill multiple holes in the PCB. Which increases production costs and limits available space on the PCB.

Note that nowadays, for some through-hole connectors, you can also have them in a reel package for manufacturing automation.

Crimping Style - Wire Connector

A crimping-style wire connector is a connector housing (often made of plastic) that holds the crimped wires for mating with a PCB header.
female wire connector
male wire connector
Crimping is a simple and fast process that forms a solid connection by squeezing contact terminal and wire together, with a hand crimping tool or a crimping machine.

Good crimping creates an air-tight seal between the terminal and the wire. Which results in long-lasting, reliable connections.

To understand the crimping process, please view how to crimp Molex micro-fit.

IDC (as known as IDT) Connectors - Wire Connector

An IDC connector (Insulation Displacement Connector) is a wire connector in which the terminals (contacts) are pre-installed into the plastic housing.
After wires are connected to an IDC connector, it mates with a PCB connector.

There are two main types of IDC connectors in wire to board category.

One type is used with discrete wires. The other type is used with ribbon cable (this type of IDC connector is also known as ribbon cable connector).
IDC with discrete wires
IDC with flat ribbon cable
A ribbon cable is pretty simple and fast to assemble. When you have all materials prepared, a simple press with a simple tool is enough to complete the assembly.

The disadvantage of ribbon cable is the connection is inflexible, as it is just multiple discrete wires in parallel.

Zeakka offers a wide range of wire to board connectors from 0.8 mm pitch to 6.2 mm pitch.

If you have any questions, or you would like to choose a wire-to-board connector for your project, please contact us!
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LDZY electronics is a China manufacturer of connectors and custom cable assemblies (flat ribbon cable assemblies, discrete-wire cable assemblies, overmolded cable assemblies)
Address: No. 3 Yanxing 2nd road, Yan’gang Community, Humen Town, Dongguan City, China
Email: sales@ldzy.hk
Tel: +86 769 8532 7562
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