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PCB Connector Types

Key Takeaways

  • PCB connectors are employed for transferring power or signals from one point to another, which can be within the PCB or between different PCBs.

  • The PCB connector types are board-to-board connectors, wire-to-wire connectors or cable-to-cable connectors, and cable-to-board connectors.

  • The mezzanine connector establishes vertical or parallel interconnection between PCBs that are separated at a short distance.

PCB Connector Types

PCB connectors are used in electronic boards to link two components or boards

PCB connectors are used to link two components or boards. There are different PCB connector types available; designers must choose the one that best fits the application. The size, weight, space constraints, ease of access, etc., are a few of the factors influencing the selection of the PCB connector type

What Is a PCB Connector?

PCBs consist of various electrical components. All these components are laid on a conductive track or connected between pads. In certain cases, it is required to use other components or equipment to establish a connection in the board or between the boards.

PCB connectors are employed for transferring power or signals from one point to another. The transfer can be within the PCB or between different PCBs. Whatever the application, PCB connectors are mounted on the PCB.

PCBs are rarely hard-wired to any component or other boards. PCB connectors are mounted onto the board during the assembly process to establish connections. The PCB connectors are the components through which the design for manufacture is established on the board. PCB connectors make it easy to make the interconnection in the board. 

Selecting PCB Connectors

PCB connectors serve different roles in a PCB. Sometimes, connectors are used for establishing board-to-board connections. Other times, the PCB connector is for cable-to-cable or wire-to-board connectivity. The selection of the PCB connector depends on the purpose, size, weight, and power requirements of the board. 

PCB Connectors Types

The PCB connector types are:

  1. Board-to-board connectors
  2. Wire-to-wire or cable-to-cable connectors
  3. Cable-to-board connectors

Board-to-Board Connectors

When we are looking to connect two PCBs without using cables or wires, board-to-board connectors can be utilized. The board-to-board connectors overcome the space constraints that persist when cables are used for connections. The board-to-board connectors are preferred for establishing accessibility in limited space.

Board-to-board connectors can interconnect boards either in a parallel or perpendicular direction. When the PCBs need to be stacked, the board-to-board connector used is the mezzanine connector. The backplane connectors belong to this category of PCB connectors, which is often used in communications and computer systems. 

Cable-to-Cable Connectors     

In the prototype building stage, we might use cables or wires along with PCBs. In such applications, there may be a requirement to make cable-to-cable connections. One end of the cable is permanently fixed to a wire and the other end is separable. The permanent connection is made through either crimping or insulation displacement contact. 

Cable-to-Board Connectors     

As the name indicates, cable-to-board connectors are used to make a wire or cable connection to a board. The wire connection end follows the same as the cable-to-cable connector, whereas the board connection end uses either a press-in connector or a soldered two-piece connector.

The table below gives the details of some commonly used PCB connectors.

PCB Connector



Pin header connector

The pin header connector is used either as the board-to-board or wire-to-board connector. It consists of a row of pins that are available in surface mount, right-angle, or straight configurations. Different pin spacings and the number of pins are available in pin header connectors.

Socket connector

The socket connectors are designed to connect with the pin header connectors. Similar to pin header connectors, they are available in different configurations.

Backplane mezzanine connector

The mezzanine connector establishes vertical or parallel interconnection between PCBs that are separated at a short distance. The high-density mezzanine connectors are preferred in applications such as communication, industrial equipment, data processing, etc.

Flexible flat cable (FFC)/ Flexible print circuit (FPC) connector

The FFC or FPC connectors used in PCBs are compact and provide low-profile connections. They are ideal for boards with space constraints or those that require flexible, high-density connections, such as in mobile phones, wearables, laptops, etc.

For appropriate selection, designers should have knowledge of various PCB connector types. Cadence OrCAD can help you design PCB boards with different types of PCB connectors. Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.