How do IDC connectors work, and what tools should I use?

IDC (Insulation Displacement Contact) connectors work by forcing the connector through the insulated jacket on the cable. Eliminating the need for stripping the cable.

IDC Crimp
Photo Credit Molex

There are two main types of IDC connectors Ribbon Cable and Punch-down blocks.

  • Ribbon Cable IDC’s are designed to connect all wires to the connector at once, thus saving you time. Ribbon cables usually have a specialized crimp tool to make all the connections at the same time. Making your upfront cost more.

Ribbon Cable Crimp

Photo Credit Sparkfun

  • Punch-down blocks, also known as Telecommunication connectors have individual wires connecting each position within the block. These take more time and have standards set in place for where each wire will go. Punch-down tools are used to seat the cable into place. You can find our punch down tools here. If the manufacturer has a recommended tool it is best to use that one to ensure proper fitment.

Photo Credit Klein Tools

  • Screwdrivers can work in a pinch. When using a screwdriver make sure that it is slotted (flat tip) otherwise you may damage the cable beyond repair. Here are some screwdriver options that are also ESD safe.
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