Wire-to-Board Connector Types

Table of Content

A connector in electronics is a device that connects a group of wires to a printed circuit board (PCB) or another group of wires, or directly connects two PCBs, thus enabling connectivity to transmit electrical power or signal.


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 connectors
molex micro-fit 3.0 mm connectors

Circuit Size

circuit size

Number of Rows

single row wire to board connector
single row
dual row wire to board connector
dual row

Pitch (pin to pin distance)

pin to pin pitch

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 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
top entry
side entry
side entry

SMT connectors are usually packaged in reels for automatic processing, which reduces cost and improves quality.

reel package

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.

dual row through hole straight wire to board
dual row through hole right angle wire to board
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 insertion orientation
female wire connector
male insertion orientation
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.

insulation displacement connector

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 discrete wires
idc with flat ribbon cable
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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