How to Select Stepper Motors  Image Credit: Digi-Key Corporation | ElectroCraft | Numatics, Inc.   Stepper motors are DC (direct current) electric motors designed for precise motion control. They consist of multiple sets of coils and magnets which are designed to allow rotor movement in angular increments called steps. Stepping can be done in full step, half step or other fractional steps in both...
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Q & A on Stepper Motors (rotary)

We asked our users for their input on Stepper Motors (rotary). Here are the results of 83 users familiar with Stepper Motors (rotary).

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing stepper motor design?
13 answers
Answers:
Stepper motors are great ... but their starting torque is very small ... I don't know what technologies may be used to fix this ... I'm not a specialist anyway ...
~Ragy S, Student, Alexandria, Egypt
I would prefer stepper motors which are lighter but at the same time have more torque.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
Complete automation on manufacturing and test using vision.
~Manufacturing, Longmont, CO
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Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative stepper motors?
10 answers
Answers:
I used stepper motors from Mitsumi and NMB stepper motors. Between the two, I liked the NMB motors.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
NMB or other
~Hemraj C, Design Engineer, Indore, India
Difficult to say, Fanuc, Torchmate, many others
~Shane B, Research & Development, Williams Lake, Canada
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Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used stepper motors for?
18 answers
Answers:
Not used any. Considering an application for a 2 speed turntable (120RPM-240RPM ?) for a pill counting machine currently using a 2 speed synchronous geared motor. Hopefully the motor runs relatively smoothly.
~Haresh P, Engineering Consultant, Lake Forest, CA
I have used Unipolar Stepper motors to built a robotic Human feeder ...designed for spastic kids. I thought they worked wonderfully for the application I was building.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
Peristaltic pumps for fluid transfer in an on-line real time water toxicity monitor which detects broadband toxins.
~Victoria G, Research & Development, Cardiff, UK
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Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that stepper motors have been used for.
8 answers
Answers:
My application may be considered pretty non-standard since I used the stepper motors to built a robotic human feeder which could scoop food from a bowl and bring it to the mouth of a spastic person.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
I have designed many uses for steppers but I would not call any of them non standard.
~Shane B, Research & Development, Williams Lake, Canada
To move gradually a microscope, it's a way to try to have an automatic microscope.
~Diego Pena, Engineer, Burbank, CA
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Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of stepper motors?
6 answers
Answers:
It's very important to provide the pulse to the coils in the stepper motor in the correct sequence and for the appropriate time. If this is not handled correctly, it may burn the coil of the stepper motor or cause vibrations and stalling.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
Microcontroller pins are damaged
~Hemraj C, Design Engineer, Indore, India
Not if you follow my advice.
~Shane B, Research & Development, Williams Lake, Canada

FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
11 answers
Answers:
One of the things that would have really helped would be to have more geared stepper motors to get higher torque. I had to build my own gear boxes to accommodate the stepper motors (size 25 and 35 NEMA) , which was very difficult. I am still looking for some ready made geared stepper motors, which I can easily mount on my application.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
Mechanically fit in the existing enclosure. Constant speed operation but perhaps 5% speed ripple may be acceptable. Do not know what speed ripple is acceptable in this pill counting apparatus.
~Haresh P, Engineering Consultant, Lake Forest, CA
Maybe a reverse polarity stepper, where the current is turned off to step the motor, so it holds torque without current. Where the coils actually nullify a magnet's pull.
~Mathew Todd, Student, Marian, AUSTRALIA
Easily adaptable to couple to any pump head, ability to buy coupling shafts (flexible) off the shelf, higher sensitivity for lower flows.
~Victoria G, Research & Development, Cardiff, UK
Degree stepper motor with lots of mechanical parts in order to put the parts in many different applications.
~Diego Pena, Engineer, Burbank, CA
Very high speed (pulse rate) high torque low cost no matter what its current and volt are
~Ragy S, Student, Alexandria, Egypt
High torque motors with high RPM's without sacrificing precision too much.
~Steven G, Student, Perth, Australia
Hiigher torque, built in drivers and power supply connectors
~Shane B, Research & Development, Williams Lake, Canada
Lighter weight with high torque
~Hemraj C, Design Engineer, Indore, India
High torque low resonance
~Alvaro I., Design Engineer, Bogota, Colombia
Programmable driver
~Juan S, Student, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of stepper motors?
8 answers
Answers:
Unipolar steppers are cheap and will get most jobs done. For higher torque and speeds consider using bipolar steppers. It is a very good idea to size your required motors first by doing some basic calcs. Make sure you consider driver boards and any additional software you may use for control. If your motor is moving, how do you plan to power it (e.g. cable chain).
~Steven G, Student, Perth, Australia
Ensure that you use the correct stepper motor controllers to avoid them from frying due to excessive loads. Also its very important to study the load curve characteristics to ensure that the stepper motor delivers the appropriate thrust or drive required for the start , stop and steady states.
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
Join groups where you can seek advice from others such as what math to use when calculating loads on a given axis or when to to use servos instead of steppers and why seek advice from more than one.
~Shane B, Research & Development, Williams Lake, Canada
Keep in mind the kind of force that the stepper needs to be able to handle, and the current needed to keep that force.
~Mathew Todd, Student, Marian, AUSTRALIA
The control circuitry is almost as important to ends results as the stepper motor.
~Research & Development, Oakham, Great Britain
My advice will be the same ... its all about the suitable driver ...
~Ragy S, Student, Alexandria, Egypt
The current is so important to move those motors.
~Diego Pena, Engineer, Burbank, CA
Driver circuit
~Hemraj C, Design Engineer, Indore, India

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using stepper motors?
9 answers
Answers:
While buying be pretty sure what step angle, torque you need to drive the application. Understand how to figure out the windings/centre taps for unipolar and bipolar stepper motors. Also understand the NEMA ratings.....standard conventions used to describe a stepper motor
~Jude P, Research & Development, Bangalore, India
Research your needs well, get advice from other customers do your math and try to over design since belt chain and other drives have different efficiency levels.
~Shane B, Research & Development, Williams Lake, Canada
Ensure you are able to use the chosen product at both ends of your required speed range - low end means look at stepper angle, high end means look at torque required.
~Research & Development, Oakham, Great Britain
Steppers are great, easy, and efficient ... you just have to know which driver (current and volt) to use with them and everything is gonna be fine ...
~Ragy S, Student, Alexandria, Egypt
Constant acceleration ramps (linear speed increases/decreases), often difficult to make, provides great results in hard start/stop situations.
~Juan S, Student, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Only use them for high precision, if this is not an issue then this type of motor is probably not for you.
~Steven G, Student, Perth, Australia
I have always found NEMA motors to be a good standard and consistent in performance.
~Mathew Todd, Student, Marian, AUSTRALIA
Please specify at least torque and step angle before purchasing.
~Hemraj C, Design Engineer, Indore, India
The torque and the current of the motor
~Diego Pena, Engineer, Burbank, CA


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