The Most Important Connector Types You Should Know

As our modern society has become increasingly dependent on electronics for transportation, communication, entertainment, security, and more, it is very beneficial to have a basic understanding of how such devices function and how they are designed. Connectors are one of the most basic elements of electronics, serving as a device that joins electrical conductors together for the means of establishing circuits. Connectors can come in a plethora of forms, often being specifically designed for a particular application, device, or function. Despite a vast array of connectors existing, there are certain classifications and groups that encompass some of the most common variations that are available. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of a few of the most important connector types, allowing you to better understand their designs and uses for electronics of all forms.

Plug and Socket Connectors

Plug and socket connectors are one of the most recognizable types, consisting of the male plug and female socket. The plug will often feature one or more prongs that are designed to fit snugly within a correlating socket, taking advantage of their inserts. If a more robust connection is desired for avoiding becoming loose due to vibration, hyperboloid contacts can be used.

Jacks and plugs may be considered a variant of plugs and sockets, the jack being the connector that receives the plug. Generally, the jack is a fixed component that is installed on the surface of a device or at the end of a cord, permitting the plug to be inserted for establishing a connection. While jacks may serve a variety of applications, they are commonly associated with telecommunications and audiovisual electronics.

Crimp-on Connectors

When a solderless connection is desired, crimp-on connectors are an option that rely on mechanical friction and uniform deformation for establishing circuits. With wires that are pre-stripped, a special crimping tool can be used to deform the metal of connectors to compress them together so that a high amount of static friction results. If done correctly, the crimped connection should be permanent and reliable, offering high resistance to vibration and thermal shock.

Ring Connectors

Ring connectors, or ring terminals, are types that feature a flat, ring shaped contact at their end. To attach such connectors to an assembly, a bolt or screw is passed through the hole of the connector, allowing for current to travel through. Ring connectors are regularly used for creating a single connection point for multiple wires, often serving automotive applications and circuit protection devices.

Edge Connectors

Edge connectors are a type seen on printed circuit boards (PCBs), acting as a portion of the structure that can plug into a correlating socket. Edge connectors are quite useful as they do not require multiple female connectors, instead only needing a single discrete female connector for attaching the outer edge connector of the PCB. Edge connectors are quite robust and cost-efficient as well, often relied on for the attachment of PCI, PCI Express, and AGP cards.

Soldered Connectors

Soldered connectors and connections are quite common for electronics, such parts regularly being produced by having wire or cable conductors soldered to the electrodes of a connector. As compared to crimped connections, soldered connections take longer to establish but can provide a much more reliable assembly if conducted correctly. Soldered connections are sometimes at risk of strain, thus they will often have housing added for the means of relief. Whenever one is establishing a soldered connection, they should ensure to take proper care not to melt the dielectric present between pins or wires as it may cause short-circuiting or other issues.

Binding Posts

Binding posts are commonly found within electronic test equipment, serving to terminate either a lone wire or a test lead. For their design, a stripped wire may be clamped onto or screwed to a metal electrode. As such connector types are regularly unisolated from other metal components, they should never be used to carry unsafe voltages that can harm individuals or damage system components.

Circular Connectors

Circular connectors are true to their name, coming in the form of cylindrical components that have multiple pins for attachment. Circular connectors can serve multiple roles, often being used for device powering, data transmission, and electrical signal transmission. Additionally, they may also be designed to excel in more harsh environments to benefit aerospace, security, defense, broadcast, energy, industrial, medical, and instrumentation applications alike. Circular connectors are designed for easy management, their housing permitting quick connection and disconnection as necessary without the need of tooling.

Screw Terminals

If a semi-permanent attachment of wires is desired, screw terminals are a good choice. While coming in a number of types, all screw terminals operate through the basic principle of clamping a stripped conductor with the use of a bolt tip. As a simple yet robust connection type, such connectors may be used to attach conductors, connect wires to circuit boards, or to terminate cabling. Terminal blocks are a common type of screw terminal, typically found on PCBs for the means of connecting wires to the board. Terminal blocks also permit wire attachment without the need of splicing or physically joining ends and are very flexible in their design to permit a number of assemblies. Barrier strips are another form of screw terminal, and such variations are fit for the connection of ring or spade terminal lugs.

Beyond the aforementioned types, a great number of connectors may be found to accommodate a diverse set of applications and system requirements. If you are in search of top quality connectors, aircraft connectors, mod connectors, connector kits, and other such equipment, there is no better alternative to Aviation Orbit. Aviation Orbit is a leading supplier of aircraft parts, NSN components, IT hardware, and electronics, providing customers access to over 2 billion top quality items. All of our parts have been sourced from top global manufacturers that we trust and undergo rigorous quality assurance testing, inspection, and cross-referencing prior to shipment. Additionally, we provide qualifying certifications and manufacturing trace documentation on all items as applicable. Get started on the purchasing process today and see how we can fulfill all your operational needs with ease.


December 7, 2023
June 30, 2022

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