Servo vs. stepper motors
What's the difference, and how doeseach work?
What is the difference between a stepper motor and a servo motor?
From contributor E:
A stepper motor is wound in such a way that the rotation has a certain number of discrete "steps". I only know of stepper motors being DC motors. These steps arewhere the magnetic fields cause the motor to want to settle in one of these positions.The number of steps per revolution is rather high, around two hundred or so, andvaries by model and manufacturer. What this means is that the motor has effectivelya resolution (smallest controlled movement) equal to the number of steps for thatmotor. Everything seems to have exceptions, and that applies to steppers also -there are some called micro step, with a higher resolution, but I don’t know muchabout them. Stepper motors may or may not have position feedback.A servo motor can be either DC or AC, and is usually comprised of the drive sectionand the resolver/encoder. A servo motor is much smoother in motion than acomparable stepper, and will have a much higher resolution for position control. Theservo family is further divided into AC and DC types. An AC servo had the advantageof being able to handle much higher current surges than a DC, as the DC hasbrushes, which are the limiting factor in this case. Therefore, for our practicalconsiderations, you can get a lot stronger AC servo motor than you could in DC or stepper configuration. Steppers, on the other hand, have economy as an advantage,and can be incorporated into a design to produce very smooth motion also. Thetrend for manufacturers of “serious” CNC machinery is to use AC servos. “Entrylevel” machines may have DC servos, or even steppers.A resolver/encoder is a glass disc with very fine lines on it and an optical encoder that counts those lines as it rotates with the motor. This information is couple to thecontroller which tracks the counts, the rate that they go by, and through a host of feedback loops, logic, and controlling the amplifiers, produces the desired motion.Stepper systems are often “open loop” which means that the controller only tells themotors how many steps to move and how fast to move, but does not have any wayof knowing where they actually are. This can lead to errors, should a situation arisewhere the motors are unable to comply with the commanded move. This can be veryobvious, where the motion stops and it sounds like you stripped a gear, or subtle,where the motor only misses a “few” steps. The result is the same - the controller thinks you are at X25.5, Y15.5 and in reality you might be at X25.3, Y15.4 . This canlead to a cumulative error, which may in turn lead to crashes, not to mention out of spec parts.How the motors are controlled by the “controller” and amplifiers is a lengthy subjectwith a lot of technical jargon.
From contributor B:
I'm just getting ready to upgrade the steppers on my old DT902 to servos and willconfess to a lack of understanding of how servos work. This upgrade is happeningdue to an unexpected opportunity that has left me on the short side of the technicalcomprehension curve.