Pin connectors are a type of electronic connector meant to connect two or more electrical circuits by using pins, which are short, straight, stiff pieces of wire, with a blunt head and a sharp point. Almost every type of electronic connector involves some type of pin, which is typically associated with a male electronic connector, as pins provide the ability to be inserted into female electronic connectors or receptacles, also known as plugs.
Some common types of electrical pin connectors include multi-pin connectors, DIN connectors and stage pin connectors (also known as grounded stage pins or grounded stage connectors), which are widely used in the entertainment industry for stage lighting applications. In addition to the entertainment industry, there is a broad spectrum of applications and industries that utilize pin connectors: electrical devices such as batteries, speakers, antenna contacts and vibrators; automotives, in order to provide power to stereo systems; industrial manufacturing, in which pin connectors are able to withstand harsh environmental conditions; and telecommunications, for use in data communication equipment (DCE).
Pin connectors may be configured with the standard two pins, or they may be configured with many pins (as much as seven or eight, at times). As pins identified as being the male aspect of electronic connectors, many pin connectors are also configured as pin and socket connectors, with the socket considered the female aspect of electronic connectors. A specific type of pin that is an essential component of electronic pin connectors is referred to as a guide pin. A guide pin functions to provide alignment during the process of connecting mating connectors.
Guide pins are very critical to pin connectors, because they are able to prevent contact damage due to the miss-mating of connectors. Also, pin connectors featuring solely two pins are becoming less commonly used than those featuring multiple pins, especially in industrial applications, in which numbers such as four or five pins are commonly utilized.
In addition to the variance in the number of pins, there is also a diversity of pin shapes. Two prominent pin shapes are flat pins (the most common pin shape) and round pins (which are considerably less common). Flat pins are also at times referred to as blades, and are much easier to use when there are multiple pins, since they take up less space than round pins, which have a wider pin diameter.