Common Wires, Cables, Connectors, and Their Applications

In our modern society, we have become very dependent on a vast array of electronics. From the lights that illuminate our buildings to the cell phones that we communicate long distance with, there are many electronics that we rely on every day. In order for all electronics to properly provide us with the functionalities that we’ve grown to expect from them, they depend upon an assembly of wires, cables, and connectors that all work together to establish electrical circuits. To help you better understand how countless electronics are designed, we will discuss wires, cables, and connectors in more detail as well as provide a brief overview of their common types.

Wires and Cables

While wires and cables are often considered to be synonymous to some, they are in fact two separate components. Wires are simply a single conductor, often coming in the form of a cylindrical, flexible metal strand or rod. Cables, on the other hand, are bundles of wires that are regularly kept together within a common sheathing. With either component, electrical current or signals may be transported. Depending on the application in question, there are a number of wire and cable assemblies that may be used, and we will discuss some of the more common types below.

Coaxial Cable

The coaxial cable is one that is constructed from four layers in order to create its coaxial shape. The center component of the cable is the conductor, encapsulated within an inner insulating plastic layer, metallic shield, and an outer plastic insulation layer. For their use, coaxial cables are capable of transmitting high frequency signals. As such, the metallic shield is paramount for mitigating noise inference. Coaxial cables can further be classified based on alternate designs or increased protection, all of which may serve cable televisions, antenna transmissions, and more.

Twisted Pair Cable

Twisted pair cables can come in numerous forms, though all are typically constructed by twisting two conductors for the means of improving electromagnetic compatibility. Twisted pair cables may either be shielded or unshielded depending on whether or not they need protection against noise. The twisting configuration of the wires can still generally reduce noise, albeit not enough to fully negate negative effects. Twisted pair cables are commonly used for Ethernet networks and telephone communication, the unshielded type serving residential and commercial buildings while the shielded type serves high-end applications.

Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optics their cable accessories are more unique as compared to other variants, constructed from flexible glass fibers known as optical fibers. Unlike the other common cable assemblies that transfer electrical signals, fiber optic cables and cable connector parts transmit data through light. Each fiber tends to be around the size of a single strand of human hair and may be protected with the use of plastic insulation. As fiber optic assemblies do not transfer electricity, they are less prone to certain interferences faced by conventional copper wiring.

Direct-Buried Cables

Direct-buried cables are the final common cable type that we will discuss, such types commonly being used for both communication and power transmission. Direct-buried cables are more complex than many other types as they are specifically designed for underground installation and do not require extra insulation, sheathing, or piping. For their construction, such cable assemblies are composed of wire bundles or fiber optic cables that are situated within a thick and robust metal core. To ensure that the cable is safe while buried underground, multiple layers of plastic insulation, waterproof materials, and shock absorbing gel may be implemented as needed.


While the cables and wires are tasked with transferring data and electrical signals over distances, the connector parts are the devices that join conductors together for the formation of electrical circuits. There are thousands of connector configurations available, each being designed for a variety of power, data, and audiovisual applications. To classify and categorize comnnetors, one may separate them by their functionality or physical construction.

Plug and Socket Connectors

Plug and socket connectors are a common type for many diverse electronic devices. Such connectors are composed of the male plug and female socket, both being designed for their secure attachment to one another. Typically, the male plug will have one or more external pins or prongs which are designed to mate with a correlating socket. The socket, meanwhile, contains openings that are designed for the insertion of the plug, ensuring a tight fit that is not easily separable. Plug and socket cable connector parts may be used for numerous applications, common forms including serial port connectors, VGA connectors, wall outlets and plugs, and more.

Crimp-on Connectors

Crimp-on connectors are a common solderless connection type that takes advantage of deformation and mechanical friction to join connectors to pre-stripped wires. Crimped connections are often established with wire and cable crimpers, those of which are special tools designed for creating such connections. It is important to be aware that crimped connections are permanent, meaning that the connectors and wire ends cannot be used again.

Soldered Connectors

Soldering is the process of joining two items together through the process of melting metal ends and attaching a filler metal for the joint, and such processes are common for plug and socket connectors. Soldering can be highly reliable when conducted properly, requiring the installer to carefully solder conductors to the electrodes located on the back of a connector. To ensure that thermal conductivity is not negatively impacted, the installer needs to avoid melting the dielectric of pins and wires.

Screw Terminals

Screw terminals are connector solutions for semi-permanent attachments of wires and cables, often chosen by manufacturers due to their simplistic installation and high reliability. Screw terminals can come in a variety of forms, all using the common method of connection which consists of using the tip of a bolt or screw to press an exposed wire onto a conductive surface. Screw terminals are often used for printed circuit boards and for plug and socket termination and their most common variation is the terminal block connector.

With the various wire, cable, and connector parts available, establishing robust circuits and electrical devices can be done with ease. If you are in need of top quality cable accessories, wire and cable extraction tools, wire components, and other electrical devices and parts, look no further than ASAP Buying. ASAP Buying is a leading online distributor of IT hardware and electronics, offering customers highly-requested components sourced from a variety of manufacturers of cable and connector products. If there are particular items on our website that you are interested in, fill out and submit an RFQ form at your earliest convenience and a dedicated account manager will reach out to you with a quote for your comparisons in 15 minutes or less. Get started today and see why customers steadily depend on ASAP Buying for all their part needs.


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