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Everything You Need to Know About Stepper Motors
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Steppers motors are often considered less useful than servo motors. However, the truth is that they are just as reliable and useful as servo motors. Stepper motors have several coils organized into groups known as phases. Each phase is energized to rotate the motor. The stepper motor rotates one step when the phase is energized which is perhaps the reason why it is called "stepper motor."

Stepping can be controlled via a computer program which allows users to achieve extremely precise speed control and/or positioning. That is the reason why stepper motors are used in applications where precise motion control is required.

Stepper motors from Midwest Equipment are available in different styles, sizes and electrical properties. In this post, we’ll discuss where stepper motors can be used and what their limitations are.

Stepper Motors Are Good for…

1. Speed Control

The speed of a stepper motor can be controlled via pulse signals from a computer program or a microcontroller like Arduino. Motor speed control is often required for robotics and automation. Thus, stepper motors are ideal for processes where speed control is essential.

2. Positioning

Steppers motors are designed to move in repeatable steps with precision. This is why they are used in applications where precise positioning is required. Applications where stepper motors are generally used include 3D printers, camera platforms and CNC machines. These motors are also used in disk drivers for positioning the read and write head.

3. Lower Speed Torque

Conventional DC motors do not have a high torque at a low speed. This is not the case with stepper motors. Stepper motors have maximum torque at a low speed which makes them an ideal option for applications where low speed and high torque is required.

Limitations of Stepper Motors

1. No Feedback

Servo motors provide feedback for positioning. However, most stepper motors don’t have feedback for positioning. Precision is achieved by running an open loop. Home detectors or limit switches are mostly required for establishing a reference point and for safety.

2. Low Efficiency

Current consumption of stepper motors doesn’t depend on load. Even when they aren’t doing any work, they keep drawing current. Due to this reason, they get hotter than DC motors during their operation.

3. Limited Torque at High Speed

Generally, the torque of stepper motors is less at high speeds and more at low speeds. Although, some steppers can perform better at a high speed, they must be coupled with a suitable driver for that purpose.

In a nutshell, stepper motors are ideal for applications where precise speed control and positioning is required. However, operating stepper motors can be difficult as they offer no integral feedback and are less efficient. So, if precise speed control and positioning is a requirement for an application, stepper motors should be used.

If you're interested in purchasing a stepper motor or have further questions, contact us at Midwest Equipment today!


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