Touchscreens often have a limited amount of space for their respective cables, circuit boards and other components. Most touchscreens, of course, are designed with a low profile so that users can easily carry them. With their limited space, manufacturers must selectively choose small components when building them. Although there are other types of cables used in touchscreens, one of the most common types is a ribbon cable. What is a ribbon cable exactly, and what purpose do they serve in touchscreens?

Overview of Ribbon Cables

Also known as a flexible flat cable (FFF), a ribbon cable is a type of electrical cable that’s characterized by a flat shape and flexible texture. Like all electrical cables, it provides a conductive path for electricity. Electricity can flow through a ribbon cable with little or no restriction. Ribbon cables are unique, however, because they can bend and flex without breaking.

Other electrical cables tend to break if you bend or flex them. They may not break initially. Rather, a standard electrical cable may require multiple instances of bending or flexing to break. Nonetheless, standard electrical cables wear down with constantly bending or flexing. As the cable wears down, it may no longer provide an effective conductive pathway for electricity and, therefore, data.

How Ribbon Cables Work in Touchscreens

Touchscreens often contain multiple ribbon cables. As previously mentioned, touchscreens have a limited amount of space inside of them. If manufacturing companies used standard electrical cables, they would have to build larger touchscreens — and that’s something most manufacturing companies want to avoid. To solve this problem, they use ribbon cables.

Ribbon cables aren’t just flexible; they are thin. With their thin shape, they consume a minimal amount of space inside of touchscreens. At the same time, they are less likely to break than standard electrical cables. Even if a ribbon cable bends, it shouldn’t succumb to damage. For these reasons, touchscreens use ribbon cables rather than standard electrical cables.

Ribbon cables are often used for the following components in touchscreens:

  • Liquid-crystal display (LCD)
  • Speakers
  • Cameras
  • Physical buttons

In Conclusion

A ribbon cable is a type of thin and flexible electrical cable used in various devices, including touchscreens. Smartphones, tablets and other touchscreens use them to conserve space and improve reliability. Ribbon cables work like other electrical cables by providing a conductive path for electricity. The difference is that they are thin and flexible — two characteristics that aren’t found in standard electrical cables.