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Published by Yenyuri Ar Oz

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Published by: Yenyuri Ar Oz on May 31, 2012
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This is an age-old debate: Which is better to go with, stepper or servo motors?
Well, to be totally honest, there really is no clear-cut answer to this ques-
tion as each has its own advantages and disadvantages; most of them are
listed below. I will mention, however, that the bulk of hobby and lower- to
mid-range production machines use a stepper-based solution. The reasoning
behind this is typically a combination of lower cost and ease of implementa-
tion. In addition, if a CNC machine has been properly engineered to operate
within the parameters that a stepper system has to offer, you should have
no loss of steps or performance issues to contend with. Obviously, if some-
thing out of the ordinary were to occur, such as running your cutter bit into
a clamp, there will be a probability that a loss of steps (loss of position) will
occur. This is where the buyer or system engineer needs to make the deter-
mination to provide feedback or closed-loop" functionality, or not. There is
no doubt that a higher level of performance can be realized by using servo
motors over steppers, but the cost difference can be appreciable. Ultimately,
the decision for most users outweighs wants versus needs. If you are a first-
time builder, I urge you to use stepper motors and drives the initial time

Advantages of Stepper Motor

• Lower cost - you will find that all of the components associated with
stepper systems (i.e., motors, drives, etc.) are less costly.
• Very accurate and dependable under normal circumstances - intrinsic
to stepper motors is their ability to achieve high positional accuracy.
• Optional 'hybrid' encoder feedback - if using dual-shaft motors, up-
grading to use of encoders is a fairly simple task.
• No tuning required - other than operating just under maximum ca-
pabilities of your drive/motor, no tuning is necessary.
• Less mechanical reduction needed (generally) - as these motors op-
erate best at lower speeds, lower reduction ratios are required.
• Simpler system to understand and work with - straightforward and
easy to implement.


The Physical Architecture

Advantages of Servo Motor

• Higher cost - motors, amplifier drives, and beefier power supply all
come at a higher price tag.
• Closed-loop system provides the user 'insurance' - considered as a
safety net.
• Higher mechanical reduction (generally) - the higher rpm rate may
exceed the required application velocities needed and can be corrected
via use of higher reduction ratio reducer.
• Tuning is required - trial and error testing required for proper system
• Faster response and operation times - higher acceleration and decel-
eration rates.
• More complex to understand and troubleshoot - generally the case.

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