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 lifetime, 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.
If you are looking for the best stepper motor driver, I’d go for the BIGTREETECH TMC2209 V1.2 Stepper Motor Driver from Amazon. It significantly reduces noise in 3D printers and produces much smoother movements overall.
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
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.
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 (face plate 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.
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 its 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 are 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 its 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.
Best Stepper Motor Driver for 3D Printers (Upgrades)
There are many stepper motor drivers out there you can get for your 3D printer, but you’ll want to get one that works well for your particular machine.
The Kingprint TMC2208 V3.0 Stepper Damper with Heat Sink Driver (4 Pack) from Amazon is a great choice that many users have loved using. One user said he went from using standard drivers to these, and the difference in noise and control was astounding.
Previously, he had a very noisy 3D printer that also had jitters throughout the printing process, but now, the printing is silent and really smooth. They have a good large exposed heatsink area, so the installation is made a little easier.
The difference between these and classic 4988 steppers are huge. Another nice feature that has been added to this is the pin headers for UART access, so you don’t have to solder them on yourself.
One user mentioned how she didn’t realize 3D printing could be so silent, making a really dramatic difference in noise. If your 3D printer vibrates a lot, even to the point where your table vibrates like another user, you’ll want to get these installed as soon as possible.
After installing this, the loudest thing on people’s 3D printers are the fans.
BIGTREETECH is a very well-known 3D printer accessories company that produces really reliable and useful parts. If you are looking for some of the best stepper motor drivers, you’ll want to look into getting yourself the BIGTREETECH TMC2209 V1.2 Stepper Motor Driver from Amazon.
They have a 2.8A peak driver, made for SKR V1.4 Turbo, SKR V1.4, SKR Pro V1.2, SKR V1.3 Motherboard, and comes with 2 pieces.
- The motor makes it very hard to lose steps; ultra-quiet mode
- Has a large thermal pad area to reduce the temperature of the work
- Prevents motor shake
- Supports stall detection
- Supports STEP / DIR and UART mode
The TMC2209 is an upgrade over the TMC2208 in that it has an increased current of 0.6A-0.8A, but also increases the function of stall detection. It has some cool technology within the part such as SpreadCycle4 TM, StealthChop2TM, MicroPlyer TM, StallGuard3TM & CoolStep.
These do things such as give more control, reduce noise, and provide a smoother operation.
One user said they paired these stepper motor drivers with the SKR 1.4 Turbo, along with a new screen and now their 3D printer is smooth and silent. You won’t regret making this great upgrade if you are facing issues of noise and large vibrations.