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difference between a servo motor & a stepper motor

Stepper Motors vs. Servo Motors

How Are They Different?

The basic difference between a traditional stepper and a servo-based system is the type of motor and how it is controlled. Steppers typically use 50 to 100 pole brushless motors while typical servo motors have only 4 to 12 poles. A pole is an area of a motor where a North or South magnetic pole is generated either by a permanet magnet or by passing current through the coils of a winding.

Steppers don't require encoders since they can accurately move between their many poles whereas servos, with few poles, require an encoder to keep track of their position. Steppers simply move incrementally using pulses [open loop] while servo's read the difference between the motors encoder and the commanded position [closed loop], and adjust the current required to move.

Performance Differences

Some performance differences between Stepper and Servos are the result of their respective motor design. Stepper motors have many more poles than servo motors. One rotation of a stepper motor requires many more current exchanges through the windings than a servo motor. The stepper motor's design results in torque degradation at higher speeds when compared to a servo. Using a higher driving bus voltage reduces this effect by mitigating the electrical time constant of the windings. Conversely, a high pole count has a beneficial effect at lower speeds giving the stepper motor a torque advantage over the same size servo motor.

Another difference is the way each motor type is controlled. Traditional steppers operate in the open loop constant current mode. This is a cost savings, since no encoder is necessary for most positioning applications. However, stepper systems operating in a constant current mode creates a significant amount of heat in both the motor and drive, which is a consideration for some applications. Servo control solves this by only supplying the motor current required to move or hold the load. It can also provide a peak torque that is several times higher than the maximum continous motor torque for acceleration. However, a stepper motor can also be controlled in this full servo closed loop mode with the addition of an encoder.

Steppers are simpler to commission and maintain than servos. They are less expensive, especially in small motor applications. They don't lose steps or require encoders if operated within their design limits. Steppers are stable at rest and hold their position without any fluctuation, especially with dynamic loads.

Servos are excellent in applications requiring speeds greater than 2,000 RPM and for high torque at high speeds or requiring high dynamic response. Steppers are excellent at speeds less than 2,000 RPM and for low to medium acceleration rates and for high holding torque.

Stepper vs. Servo: The Verdict

Servo control systems are best suited to high speed, high torque applications that involve dynamic load changes. Stepper control systems are less expensive and are optimal for applications that require low-to-medium acceleration, high holding torque, and the flexibility of open or closed loop operation.

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Additional Servo Repair Info.

General Repair Info. - Fanuc Servo Motors
Fanuc Servo Maintenance & Parts List
Fanuc Servo Motor Repair - Technical Specifications
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Repair Services - Yaskawa Rotary Servos

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For national servo motor repair, stepper motor repair & other industrial services, including Fanuc servo motor repair, spindle motors,
brushless motors, and more, TigerTek is your servo motor repair source. Our specialty is lightning-fast in-house servo repair for all major brands.
All servos are expertly repaired with OEM parts and quickly returned like new, complete with 1 year warranty.
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