What is the Best Stepper Motor/Driver for Your 3D Printer?


Stepper Motor - Which is Best

If you’ve wondering just which stepper motor/driver is best for your 3D printer, you’re in the right place. It’s a quite overlooked part of a 3D printer and it deserves a bit more of an informed decision rather than just sticking with what your printer came with.

Many people have reported prints improving after installing a better stepper motor on their 3D printer so which one is best for your 3D printer?

For such an essential part of a 3D printer, I’ve wondered which stepper motor is the best so I created this post to find that out so read along for the answers.

For the people that came for a quick answer, the best stepper motor for your 3D printer is going to be the StepperOnline NEMA 17 Motor. It’s highly rated on Amazon and is the #1 listing for Electric Motor Mounts. Low noise, long life time, high performance and no loose steps!

Many have described it as a plug-and-play motor but it does require a bit of know-how, but shouldn’t take too long at all to install. Once you install this stepper motor, any slip problems you’ve had previously should be dealt with easily.

Now let’s get into what makes a stepper motor so important.

What are the Key Functions of a Stepper Motor?

Under the hood of every 3D printer out there, you’ll find a stepper motor.

The proper definition of a stepper motor is a brushless DC electric motor that divides a full rotation into an equal number of steps. The position of the motor can be ordered to move and hold at certain steps and used at your desired torque and speed.

In simpler terms, stepper motor is what the motherboard uses to communicate to the motors of your 3D printer to make it move around the various axes. It gives the precision, speed and positioning of how things move so it’s a very vital component of a printer.

The reason stepper motors are used in 3D printers is because of their wide range of benefits such as low cost, high torque, simplicity, low maintenance while being highly reliable, and works in just about any environment.

Also on the technical side of things, they are very reliable because there are no contact brushes in the motor, meaning the life of the motor depends solely on the longevity of the bearing.

Stepper motors are also used in medical instruments, engraving machines, textile equipment, packaging machines, CNC machines, robotics and much more. 

What Makes a Stepper Motor Better Than Others?

Now it’s important to know that there are many different sizes, styles and characteristics that a stepper motor can give you.

The factors that are important to us are the ones that work best for a 3D printer specifically. Since we need to consider how much work the motor is going to be doing, we take a few things into account.

The main factors that make a stepper motor better than another are:

  • Torque rating
  • Size of motor
  • Step count

Torque Rating

Most stepper motors have a torque rating which roughly translates to how powerful the motor is. Usually, the bigger the size of the motor, the more torque rating you’ll have because they have a better ability to deliver power.

You do have smaller 3D printers such as the Prusa Mini which would require less torque than lets say, an Anycubic Predator Delta Kossel so do keep the size of your printer in mind.

Size of Motor

You have a wide range of sizes for stepper motors but many can definitely be too strong for a simple 3D printer, which doesn’t require too much performance.

For 3D printers, we generally go for the NEMA 17 (faceplate dimensions 1.7 by 1.7 inches) because they are large enough to get the job done. 

You would usually use larger NEMA motors in products that require industrial applications or CNC machines. Do keep in mind that NEMA simply describes the size of the motor and not it’s other characteristics. Also two NEMA 17 motors could be very different and are not necessarily interchangeable.

Step Count

The step count is what gives us the precision that we need in terms of movement or positioning resolution. We call it the number of steps per revolution and it can range anywhere from 4 to 400 steps with the common steps counts being 24, 48 and 200. 200 steps per revolution translates to 1.8 degrees per step

For you to get a high resolution, you will have to sacrifice speed and torque. Basically, a high step count motor will have lower RPMs than another motor of a lower step count of comparable size.

If you need higher step rates to turn the motors efficiently, it will require more power so the torque comes in lower and vice versa. So if you want great precision of movement, you will need high step counts therefore reducing the amount of torque you have.

Best Stepper Motors You Can Buy Now

NEMA-17 Stepper Motor

StepperOnline NEMA 17 Motor as recommended at the start of this post is a great choice for a stepper motor. Thousands of happy customers have used this stepper motor with great success with it’s high quality and flexible customization.

It comes neatly packaged and is a bipolar, 2A motor with a 4-lead and 1M cable/connector. The only downside here is the cables are non-detachable. Do note that the colors of the cables don’t necessarily mean they are a pair.

The way to determine wire pairs is to spin the shaft, then touch two wires together and spin it again. If the shaft was more difficult to spin, those two wires are a pair. Then the other two wires are a pair.

Once you do install this stepper motor, your performance should be second to none and smooth for years to come.

Usongshine NEMA 17 Motor is another choice that is well-liked between 3D printer users and is slightly smaller than the above choice. This high torque stepper motor is made of high quality steel and has great performance.

A few advantages of this stepper motor is it’s effective thermal conductivity and quality control for each stepper motor that’s sold. You get your stepper motor (38mm), 4pin cable and connector a strong/quiet device to assist you in your 3D printing journey.

The wiring is better set out, with the black and red wires being A+ & B+ then the green and blue wires being A- & B-.

Customer service is also at the forefront of their product so you have good peace of mind after your purchase.

Even at print speeds of 120mm/s+ this stepper driver will deliver amazing performance every time.

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