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Which Termination Is Best, IDC or Crimp?

by | Nov 13, 2023

Connectors are the often-overlooked but indispensable components that facilitate communication and connectivity in a wide range of applications, from telecommunications systems to the intricate circuitry of our everyday electronics. Selecting the right termination method is a decision that can profoundly impact the efficiency of a project. In this article, we explore the ongoing debate between IDC and crimp connectors, two widely recognized choices in the industry. We will examine their strengths, weaknesses, and real-world applications to help you make informed decisions and ensure a robust and reliable wire-harnessing process connected to your project.

IDC Connectors: Revolutionizing Connectivity

IDC connectors have emerged as the virtuosos of a seamless connection to the conductors. The attributes include:

  • Effortless Connection: IDC, short for Insulation-Displacement Connectors (or insulation-piercing contacts), are designed for an easy connection process to insulated cables. These connector(s) feature specially sharpened blades that puncture the insulation on the conductor(s), eliminating the need to strip insulation prior to connecting.
  • Cold-Welding Reliability: When properly employed, these create a theoretically reliable gas-tight connection as the connector blade cold-welds to the conductor. These ensure a secure and durable wire connection.
  • Pitch Variety: IDC cable assemblies are available in different pitches, including 1.27 mm, 2.00 mm, and 2.54 mm. Most of these connectors are double-row, offering versatility in your wire connectivity options.
  • Time and Cost Savings: IDC is known for its efficiency in manufacturing. They allow for the termination of multiple wires and contacts at once, which not only saves time but also reduces costs significantly.
  • No Stripping Required: One of the key advantages of IDC is that they bypass the need to strip the insulation from wires before it is soldered.
  • User-Friendly Tools: IDC connectors can often be terminated using basic hand tools, and the forces required for termination are relatively low. This simplicity makes them accessible to a wide range of applications.
  • Enhanced Ruggedness: Matting connectors for IDC cable wire assemblies often incorporate features like locking clips, ejection latches, strain relief, and polarization, enhancing the ruggedness of the assembly.
  • Gas-Tight and Vibration-Proof: Insulation Displacement Connectors are prized for their gas-tight and vibration-proof characteristics. These qualities stem from the meticulous design and manufacturing of the best wire harness covers and wraps.

The Versatility Of Crimp Connectors

Crimping is a popular method for terminating stranded wires that substitutes soldering processes. A wire is threaded through the terminal, inserted into a crimping tool, and compressed under high pressure to create metal-to-metal contact. Crimping is ideal for designs that include distinct wires of varying diameters in a single unit.

Features of Crimped Contacts

  • Maneuverability Beyond Ribbon Cables: Crimped cable assemblies, typically designed for discrete (individual) wires, bring a degree of maneuverability that ribbon cables cannot match. They can bend, angle, and flex into tight bends and small spaces, allowing designers to navigate intricate paths that would be challenging with other termination methods.
  • Breaking Boundaries with Discrete Wires: A Crimp connection has breakpoints from a higher pin-count connector to several smaller position connectors, providing design flexibility and support.
  • Multiple Wire Sizes in One Cable Assembly: One of the standout features of crimp systems is their ability to accommodate two or more wire sizes within a single cable assembly. It not only streamlines the design process but also optimizes board space and reduces the need for additional connectors. With some contact systems, like the 2.54 mm pitch connectors, crimping accepts a wide range of wire gauges, from 20 to 30 AWG.
  • Pitch Transitioning for Real Estate Savings: Crimped connector assemblies empower designers to transition from one connector pitch to another, a common scenario when connecting their PCB to another supplier’s device or PCB. This transition often involves designing a smaller pitch termination to conserve valuable real estate.
  • Selective Population for Safety: Crimped cable contact systems offer the flexibility to pull pins selectively within the plastic insulator, ensuring compliance with creepage and clearance requirements. This meticulous control over pin placement enhances safety and reliability.
  • Diverse Design Options: Like their IDC counterparts, crimped contact systems come in a wide array of design and manufacturing options. These encompass a variety of wire gauges, pin sizes, centerlines, latches, and features aimed at increasing the ruggedness of the system. The range of choices allows engineers and designers to tailor the connector to meet their specific project requirements.
  • Trade-offs in Complexity: They often require more complex assembly and manufacturing processes, contributing to increased assembly time and tooling costs.

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Choose right connectors

Five Tips For Choosing The Right Connector For Your Application

Here are five essential tips tailored to assist you in making the right choice and deciding between IDC and crimp connectors, ensuring a seamless fit for your specific needs.

1. Cost-effectiveness

  • IDC: IDC connectors are inexpensive due to their streamlined manufacturing process, eliminating the need for labor-intensive tasks like insulation stripping, soldering, or individual crimping. They save time and money because they eliminate the need to remove insulation from wires.
  • Crimp Connectors: Crimp connectors excel in precision and security, offering gas-tight, low-resistance wire connections that are essential for the efficient transmission of signals.

2. Speed and ease of installation

  • IDC: IDC connections offer a wide range of applications because of their resistance to stress and large temperature variations. Since less force is needed to achieve a termination, they are simpler to install. Also, the ability to bulk terminate flat cables boosts production speed without the need for extra equipment or soldering.
  • Crimp Connectors: These come in a wide variety of types, offering adaptability to diverse applications and scenarios.

3. Durability and reliability

  • IDC: These create durable and reliable connections, are resistant to vibrations, and are capable of providing long-term performance. When a blade penetrates the insulation and makes contact with the wire, surface oxides are removed, resulting in a reliable metal-to-metal connection.
  • Crimp Connectors: Meanwhile, crimp connectors are highly precise and secure, minimizing the risk of signal loss or disconnection. They are also resistant to moisture and very reliable.

4. Suitability for different wire sizes

  • IDC: IDC is adaptable and offers various wire sizes and types, providing versatility in various applications. They may be used for both solid and stranded wires in a variety of applications.
  • Crimp Connectors: These deliver precise, gas-tight, low-resistance connections, ideal for efficient signal transmission.

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5. Flexibility concerns

  • IDC: IDC cable assemblies, while economical, are relatively inflexible and rigid, making them best suited for straight-line connections and less versatile for applications that require cable flexibility.
  • Crimp Connectors: These are highly controlled and precise, ensuring consistent results. However, they may entail more complex assembly and manufacturing processes, which can increase assembly time and tooling costs.


IDCs are more cost-effective and dependable than crimping and soldering, especially for cables used in power and data applications. Because of their simplicity and dependability, producers can connect huge numbers of wires at high speeds, making them the perfect termination solution for a variety of cable assemblies.

However, no matter what connector you choose, it should be of top quality and not break or get exposed to damage easily. Readers are reminded that the ultimate decision should confirm specific needs and priorities.

Violin Technologies, a leading contract manufacturer, offers custom wire harness connectors and terminals. Our expert cable engineers choose connectors based on connection types, insulation, and power contacts. Contact us today for the latest products tailored to your needs.

Almaas Saleem |author

Almaas Saleem

About the Author

Almaas Saleem is a skilled software engineer from Kerala, India who currently resides in East Africa. She is passionate about technology and constantly seeks to learn more about it through reading and hands-on experience. Almaas excels in web development, design, automated testing software, ethical hacking, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. She also works as a technical writer for new businesses, managing various entities. Almaas is distinguished by her steadfastness and commitment to her work, which consistently ion.