Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Which is better? Servo motor or stepper motor?

The overwhelming majority of linear motion applications (with the exception of pneumatically-driven types) use either a stepper motor or a servo motor to provide torque to the driving mechanism, which is typically a ball or lead screw, rack and pinion, or belt and pulley system. And unlike other components involved in linear motion, when choosing a motor, there is usually a clear answer to the question, “Which technology should I use?” This is because servo motors and stepper motors are designed for very different performance characteristics. Determining which is to use for a given application requires understanding these differences and balancing them with other factors, such as cost and complexity.

The basic premise of a servo motor is that it operates in a closed loop motor system, meaning that an encoder or feedback device sends signals to the controller indicating the actual position of the motor. This information is compared against the commanded position, and the controller sends corrective signals to the motor in order to minimize the error. The result is very tight positioning accuracy and more reliable positioning than can be achieved with stepper motors. However, closed loop systems require tuning of the control parameters and are more time-consuming to set up. The additional components required for feedback and greater complexity also make them more expensive than steppers.

A general rule is that stepper motors are best suited for applications that run at 1000 rpm and below. This is because at higher speeds, a stepper motor’s torque production drops off rapidly. Servo motors can operate at a wide range of speeds, and they’re usually the better choice for high-speed applications.

As mentioned earlier, a stepper motor rapidly loses torque capability as its speed increases, with torque typically falling off at speeds above 1000 rpm. However, at lower speeds, steppers have excellent torque-producing capability for a given motor size. It’s important, however, to never exceed a stepper motor’s rated torque (which can limit its ability to accelerate), because doing so can result in lost steps or cause the motor to stall.

Which is better? Servo motor or stepper motor?

The verdict
In general, servo motors are the better choice for applications that require precise and accurate positioning, high speeds, and/or the ability to withstand changing loads (especially those that might require higher than the rated motor torque). For applications that don’t require position feedback and that operate solely within the design limits of the motor, stepper motors from china provide a simpler, more cost-effective solution.

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