For people just getting into electronics and printed circuits when you see a picture of an FFC cable or FPC, they can look very similar offer different features and functionality.
FFC (Flexible flat cable)
FFC (Flexible flat cable) referred to an electrical cable that is both flat and flexible and is an evolution of ribbon cable in a miniature form. Common uses of FFC in consumer devices will be high-density electronics such as laptops and cell phones.
These flat cables significantly improve cable management and consist of flat and flexible plastic film base, with multiple metallic conductors bonded to one surface.
These flat cables can usually require less space than their round cable counterparts while offering improved EMI/RFI suppression and eliminating wire coupling issues.
Hitaltech manufactures a wide variety of FFC cable which is available from 2 to 32 pins with a variety of insulation materials allowing them to be used in a range of applications. Some of the FFC cables are designed to operate in very high temperatures such as the high temp jumper system which is designed to operate in temperature of 150°C such as cars or white goods.
It is also possible to have them pre-terminated with a connector allowing for semi-permanent connections, alternatively, these can be supplied a bare allowing the cables to be soldered.
FPC (Flexible printed circuit)
An FPC or flexible printed circuit is a more complicated piece of electronics and used to describe circuits that can incorporate components and are built onto a flexible material.
FPC is made of polyimide material and etched copper conductors. FPC can accept more severe tolerances than FFC and is also available in 0.3mm thick versions.
An FPC can be used over a rigid printed circuit board to provide a greater flexibility to electronics or for particularly tightly assembled electronic packages.
There are many different kinds of FPC, including single layer, double-sided, multilayer flex circuit.
Single-sided flexible circuits have a single conductor layer made of either a metal or conductive (metal filled) polymer on a flexible dielectric film.
Double-sided flex circuits are flex circuits having two conductor layers.
Flex circuits having three or more layers of conductors are known as multilayer flex circuits. Commonly the layers are interconnected by means of plated through holes, though this is not a requirement of the definition for it is possible to provide openings to access lower circuit level features.