Stepper Motor

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What is Stepper Motor?

A stepper motor is an electromechanical device that converts electrical power into mechanical power. Also, it is a brushless, synchronous electric motor that can divide a complete rotation into several steps. The position of the motor can be accurately controlled without any feedback mechanism, as long as the motor is carefully sized to the application. Stepper motors are similar to switched reluctance motors. The stepper motor uses the theory of operation for magnets to make the motor shaft turn a precise distance when a pulse of electricity is supplied. The rotor has six poles and the stator has eight poles. To make one complete revolution the rotor will need 24 pulses of electricity to move the 24 steps. Another way to say this is that the rotor will move precisely 15° for each pulse of electricity received by the motor.

Construction & Working Principle of Stepper Motor

The construction of a stepper motor is largely related to the DC motor. It has a permanent rotor-like magnet that is in the middle and it will turn once force acts on it. This rotor is connected through a no. of the stator which is wound through a magnetic coil all over it. The stator is arranged close to the rotor so that the magnetic fields inside the stators can control the movement of the rotor.

The stepper motor can be controlled by reinforcing each stator one by one. So the stator will magnetize and act like an electromagnetic pole that uses repulsive energy on the rotor to move forward. The stator’s alternative magnetizing as well as demagnetizing will shift the rotor gradually and allows it to turn through great control.

The working principle of a stepper motor is electromagnetism. It consists of a rotor made with a permanent magnet and a stator with an electromagnet. Once the supply is given to the winding of the stator then the magnetic field will be created within the stator. Now the rotor in the motor will start moving with the rotating magnetic field of the stator. So this is the basic working principle of this motor.

In this motor, there is a soft iron that is connected by electromagnetic stators. The poles of the stator as well as the rotor don’t depend on the kind of stepper. Once the stators of this motor are activated then the rotor rotates to aligned itself with the stator otherwise turns to have the least gap through the stator. In this way, the stators are activated in a series to rotate the stepper motor.

Driving Techniques of Stepper Motor

Due to the complex design, stepper motor driving technique may be possible with some special circuits. There are many ways to operate this motor, some of them are discussed below with the example of four-phase stepper motor.

Single Excitation Mode

The basic mode of operating a stepper motor is a single excitation mode. This is an old method and is not widely used at the moment but one has to know about this technique. In this technique every phase otherwise stator next to each other will be activated one by one alternatively with a special circuit. This will magnetize and demagnetize the stator to move the rotor forward.

Full Step Drive

In this technique, two stators are activated at a time instead of one in a very short period of time. This technique results in high torque and allows the motor to drive the high load.

Half Step Drive

This technique is entirely related to full-step drive because the two stators will be aligned next to each other so that it is activated first whereas the third one will be activated after that. This kind of cycle for switching two stators first and after that third stator will drive the motor. This technique will result in better resolution of the stepper motor while reducing the torque.

Micro Stepping

This technique is often used because of its accuracy. The variable step current will supply by the stepper motor driver circuit toward stator coils within the form of a sinusoidal waveform. The accuracy of every step can be increased by this small step current. This technique is widely used because of its high accuracy as well as reducing operating noise to a large extent.

Stepper Motor Circuit & Its Operation

Stepper motors work differently than DC brush motors, which rotate when voltage is applied to their terminals. Stepper motors, on the other hand, efficiently arrange multiple-toothed electromagnets around a central gear-shaped piece of iron. The electromagnets are reinforced by an external control circuit, for example, a microcontroller.

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