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I am looking to attach a cable to board in the most compact (yet manufacturable) way possible. This does not need to be disassembled ever, it can be a permanent connection.

Is there a standard way of attaching cable-to-board without a connector? Can it be done in a way that can be mass-produced, and does not occupy much room? Something like a reflow-solderable ribbon cable :)

I need 48-50 wires (possibly 3x 16 or 3x 18). These are low-frequency analog signals (<1kHz), they can be shielded similar to audio cable, or just rely on the enclosure shield; no special high-speed stuff is needed. In this case each signal pair goes to a different location 5-10 inches away, so they would split once away from the board (FFC cable or ribbon won't work, split-ribbon may be ok). Space is at a premium: a standard 0.1 inch header is much too bulky. Ideally I'd like an assembled height of <2mm and board area <30x10mm. I've looked at Hirose DF-9 or DF-19 and JAE FI-X or FI-R connectors and cables as used for LCD displays - while fairly compact even these are bulkier than I'd like (and the typical cables made for these don't even use all pins, and add significant cost). Surely there must be a better way?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why not look at 0.05" headers? Samtec.com has many options for both headers and board to cable and a nice online catalog. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jan 27 '15 at 4:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby: Interesting, I had a look. These seem to be ~5mm tall (just the connector, not mated). That seems a bit large? \$\endgroup\$ – Alex I Jan 27 '15 at 4:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ They have standard and non-standard heights available. But look at the entire catalog, they have different types of connectors too. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jan 27 '15 at 5:41
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Why not go with direct wire-to-board IDC connectors? They do not satisfy your ideal case, but they are still quite small: Digikey 3240-50-00-ND is 50 pins (2x25), it is 3.x36mm on board with 5mm height

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