General about stepper motors 8

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Stepper motors are used in a wide variety of applications due to their low cost, ruggedness, simplicity of construction, and wide acceptance, among other factors.

Stepper motors are widely used in applications wherein the position of a mechanical element must be readily and accurately adjusted over a predetermined range of possible positions.

Stepper motors have proven very popular in modern, sophisticated mechanical equipment since, by varying the time between steps in a step table, a stepper motor may be driven through very flexible and highly precise velocity profiles necessary to implement complex mechanical functions such as those carried out by paper handling equipment.

Stepping motors are extensively used in various fields, such as information devices and audio equipment including, a printer, facsimile, image scanner, copying machine, laser beam printer, CD-ROM, DVC. For instance, stepper motors are commonly used in devices such as desktop printers for a variety of purposes, including the feed of paper through the printer and the movement of a print head carriage across a paper path.

Stepping motor modules are used particularly in printing and copying devices to drive transport drums, which transport the paper or forms that are to be printed through the printing or copying device. In these appliances, the motors are often controlled by microprocessors, which time the movement of the material along the assembly line and control other equipment based on the anticipated timed movement of the material along the assembly line.

Small stepper motors have been utilized to drive a set of camera shutter blades. The number of pulses transmitted to the stepper motor determines the aperture achieved by the shutter blades. Such shutter blades are reasonably fast and simple to drive electronically. Because of its suitable performance characteristic for positioning control, stepping motors have been used in photo graphing electronics devices, such as a digital camera and video camera (camcorder) for adjustment of aperture, focus, and zoom.

Compact electronic devices and information handling apparatuses, appropriate for portable use, have been recently developed, and miniature and light-weight stepping motors are widely employed in these devices. Timing devices such as an electronic timepiece or watch, and timing switches are typical of such electronic devices. In these timing devices, the energy generated by the movement of the user's arm is converted into electricity which is used to drive the stepping motor which moves the hands of the device. These timing devices operate without batteries and can continuously run off the energy generated by the user's movement. Recently, due to rapid development upon the photo-electronic technology, related photo-electronic products has become standard and required peripherals of the computer system. For example, an optical storage device is one of those popular apparatus. In controlling the sled of the optical storage device, control of the motor is particularly important.

For the optical storage device and the related products such as the CD-ROM, the CD-R, the CD-R/W and the DVD, the stability during high-speed operation and the ability of accurate data-retrieving become crucially important to the control of the sled of the optical storage device.


  • Stepping Motors: A Guide to Theory and Practice, 4 Edition th , P. P. Acarnley, IEE, 2002

  • Electromechanical Motion Devices, P. Krause and O. Wasynczuk, McGraw Hill, 1989

  • Stepping Motors and Their Microprocessor Controls, T. Kenjo and A. Sugawara, Oxford university press, 1995

  • Step Motor System Design Handbook, 2 Edition nd, A. Leenhouts, Litchfield Engineering Co., 1997

  • Control Sensors and Actuators, C. deSilva, Prentice Hall, 1989

  • Design with Microprocessors for Mechanical Engineers, K. Stiffler, McGraw Hill, 1992.

  • Stepping Motor Tutorial by Dr. Douglas W. Jones, 1995

  • Stepper Motor Tutorial by Rustie Laidman, 2000

  • The Handbook of Small Electric Motors, Yeadon and Alan W, Yeadon, Eds, McGraw Hill, 2001

  • Electric machines and drives, G.R. Slemon, Addison-Wesley, 1992



  • Application / Advisor: Motors



Stepper motors were developed in the early 1960's as a low cost alternative to position servo systems in the emerging computer peripheral industry. The main advantage of stepper motors is that they can achieve accurate position control without the requirement for position feedback.

In other words they can run "open-loop", which significantly reduces the cost of a position control system.

Stepper motors utilize a doubly-salient topology, which means they have "teeth" on both the rotor and stator. Torque is generated by alternately magnetizing the stator teeth electrically, and the permanent magnet rotor teeth try to line up with the stator teeth. There are many different configurations of stepper motors, and even more diverse ways to drive them. The most common stator configuration consists of two coils. These coils are arranged around the circumference of the stator in such a way that if they are driven with square waves which have a quadrature phase relationship between them, the motor will rotate. To make the motor rotate in the opposite direction, simply reverse the phase relationship between the two coils signals. A transition of either square wave causes the rotor to move by a small amount, or a "STEP". Thus , the name "stepper motor". The size of this step is dependent on the teeth arrangement of the motor, but a common value is 1.8 degrees, or 200 steps per revolution. Speed control is achieved by simply varying the frequency of the square-waves.

Because stepper motors can be driven with square waves, they are easily controlled by inexpensive digital circuitry and do not even require PWM (pulse width modulation). For this reason, stepper motors have often been inappropriately referred to as "digital motors". However, by utilizing power modulation techniques to change the quadrature square-waves into sine and cosine waveforms, even MORE step resolution is possible. This is called "micro-stepping", where each discrete change in the sine and cosine levels constitutes one micro-step. Theoretically, there is no limit to the position resolution achievable with micro-stepping, but in reality, it is limited by the motor mechanical and electrical tolerances. Some stepper motors are designed specifically for micro-stepping, and consist of tightly matched impedances between the two coils, and tighter machining tolerances on the teeth, at the expense of higher cost.

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