Flat cables allow for compact designs of electrical conductors and tubing, encasing power, signal, video, data and even pneumatic tubing in one flat profile. By eliminating the multiple layers of fillers, shielding and jacketing used in round cables, they offer reduced space and weight and extremely long lives.
Because of their smooth, compact design, flat cables are more flexible than their round counterparts, especially in high-flex applications such as robots, festoon and automated processing equipment. They are also suitable for military, aerospace, medical and clean room systems. This flexibility can be attributed to the fact that flat cables flex equally and in the same plane, reducing the twisting and stress put on round cables. Offering small bend radii, flat cables are able to fit into tight and compact spaces and are designed for up to tens of millions of cycles.
The conductors in flat cables are equally spaced, with the exact same distance to travel. In round cable, however, the wires twist and turn inside the cable, so the spacing and the length of travel varies, and it constantly changes. The result is that flat cables have significantly better electrical performance than round cables, including faster signal speeds, less skew, and higher current-carrying capacity, due to the consistent, straight-line path for the electrical current in a flat cable.
A final advantage of flat cable designs is that they are easier to terminate and identify than round cables because of their parallel conductor layout. This parallel design also means they are easy to repair, and this equality makes the design strong, as stress and loads are evenly distributed throughout the cable.