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Principle of Operation

Electric motors run by electromagnetism. However, there are also other types of motors that utilize
electrostatic forces or piezoelectric effect. In the case of a PMDC {Permanent Magnet DC) motor,
motion is produced by an electromagnet (armature) interacting with a fixed field magnet (housing
In a brushed motor, electrical current flows through the motor terminals in the endcap assembly that
comes in contact with the commutator in the armature assembly through the carbon brushes or
brush leaves. The electrical current powers the coils generating a magnetic field causing the
armature to rotate as it interacts with the magnets encased in the housing assembly. Flemmings
Left Hand Rule helps to determine the direction of the force, the current and the magnetic flux.
In a brushless motor, when electricity is applied across the motor termination, a current flows
through a fixed stator field and is interacting with a moving permanent magnet or a moving induced
magnetic field inside a rotor / armature. After the motion and force load have been met by the
available source current it returns back to the source exiting the motor.

Key Elements Interacting to Produce Motion

Magnetic Flux - A motor can have a fixed wound coil or a permanent magnet stator and a moving
wound coil armature or PM rotor that will have interacting magnetic flux fields to produce a force and
Force - The amount of current that flows through the electromagnetic field is proportional to the
amount of interacting electromagnetic field force required to achieve the opposing work load. In
addition to the force and motion needed by the device one must consider any efficiency loss in the
conversion of electrical power into mechanical work (watts).

Stepper Motor Overview

What is a Stepper Motor
Stepper motors operate differently from other DC motors, which simply spin when voltage is applied.
A rotational stepper motor is an electromechanical device that can divide one full rotation (360) into
a large number of rotational steps. Stepper motors are controlled electronically and do not require
costly feedback devices. The linear stepper motor is similar to the rotational motor other than the
shaft moves in a linear or lengthways fashion. Both types have two winding arrangements for their
electromagnetic coils: unipolar and bipolar. Unipolar means that every coil end has one polarity. A
recommended Zener diode is used to ensure a fast current decay in the switched-off coil. This will
give an increased motor torque especially at higher frequencies.
Bipolar indicates that every coil end has both polarities. The coil will be positive and negative during
each drive cycle. Since every coil is fully used, the motor has a higher torque compared to a unipolar
coil. A bipolar driver can incorporate a constant current drive capability, called chopper drive. This
will provide an increased torque output during higher frequencies and reduces the effects of
temperature and supply voltage variations.

Stepper Motor Basics

The PM or "tin can" stepper motor is a low cost solution for your positioning applications with typical
step angles of 7.5 - 15. Smaller step angles can be obtained trough Microstepping. The shaft of the

motor moves in distinct step increments when electrical control pulses are applied. The current
polarity and frequency of the applied pulses determines the direction and speed of the shafts
One of the most significant advantages of a stepper motor is its ability to be accurately controlled in
an open loop system. Open loop control means no feedback information about shaft position is
needed. This type of control eliminates the need for expensive feedback devices by simply keeping
track of input step pulses. A stepper motor is a good choice whenever controlled movement is
required. They are recommended in applications where you need to control rotation angle, speed,
position and synchronism. Detent, Holding, Pull-In and Pull-Out torque capabilities, speed (RPM)
and steps per revolution (step angle) characterize a stepper motor.
Detent torque defines the maximum torque that can be applied to a de-energized motor without
causing the motor to rotate.
Holding torque defines the maximum torque with which an energized motor can be loaded without
causing rotary movement.
Pull-In performance defines the motors capability to start or stop. This is the maximum frequency at
which the motor can start or stop instantaneously, with a load applied, without loss of
Pull-Out defines the maximum torque when applying an acceleration/deceleration ramp without
loosing steps. It defines the maximum frequency at which the motor can operate without losing
Our rotational stepper motor can be combined with our full line of Gearboxes to increase torque and
reduce speed.

Design Considerations
Power supply


Battery supply possible

Driver electronics need


Speed accuracy


Effected by load torque

Manufacture tol +-10% of no load speed

Speed control


Open loop or closed loop speed control Closed loop - high

accuracy, but sensor need

Position control

High effort

Closed loop position control and sensor need

Overloadablity / load inertia


High start torque or peak load torque

Able to accelerate high load inertia



300...2000h (limited by wear of brushes) Depend on speed, current

and brush config

Speed range [rpm]


No load speed



At operating point of max. efficiency

Power vs. size


Winding thermal protection


If overload (mechan.blocking) not excluded - Current limitation or

thermal contacts

Load sensing


Current rises with load

Stalling permissible


No or only short time (winding overheat)

Electromag.interference EMI


Suppression means (capacitors / varistors)

Braking/Holding torque


Detent torque
Braking improvable by winding short circuit

Max.output power from JE [W]

Linear motors from JE


Encoder Motors
Encoders (Sensors) can be implemented inside the motor or mounted to motor rearside.
They are needed for a precise speed control or angular position control. Typical application: Printers
and scanners.
There are different options:

Optical encoders

Hall-effect magnetic sensors


Johnson Electric offers a range of several optical encoders.

Basic principle: A slotted wheel or a black/transparent strip photo print is rotating with the motor
shaft. A photo sensor provides a sine wave or pulse pattern that follows the speed of the motor.
Output signal can be analog (0...3.3Vac) or digital (0...3.3 Vdc or 0...5Vdc).
One signal or two signals phase shifted 90 (enabling detection of direction of rotation ; allows 4x
Several options for resolution. Terminology: CPR (Counts Per Revolution) and LPI (Lines Per Inch).


HC385MG with slotted encoder wheel

(CPR = 48 ; one signal, sine wave 0...3.3Vac)

NF123G with fotoprint wheel

(CPR= 32 ; two signals, sine wave 0....3Vac)