All You Need to Know About Linear Stepper Motors, Their Actuators, and Their Applications

A stepper motor is a brushless electromechanical device that converts electrical energy to mechanical energy. It divides rotational motion into equal number of steps with the help of actuators, depending on the application requirement. There are many types of stepper motors such as linear stepper motor, and are made based on the number of steps per revolution. For motion, they make use of actuators. Stepper motors offer consistent repetition of movement, speed control, and precision in positioning. They have a number of industrial applications such as 3D printing, robotics, CNC machining, medical imaging, and so on. This post discusses the various stepper motor applications and the role of linear actuators in stepper motors.

Linear Stepper Motors and Their Actuators

Types of Stepper Motors

Primarily, there are three broad categories of stepper motors— variable reluctance, permanent magnet, and hybrid. However, we would focus on linear stepper motors, and they are normally of the hybrid type.

Linear Stepper Motors

Various types of linear stepper motors have been devised by stepper motor manufacturers over the last few years mainly based on requirements such as fitment in compact spaces and more. To further categorize, linear stepper motors are the primary type, and their sub types have mainly evolved from this one. Here are a few types of linear stepper motors:

  • Linear Stepper Motors:These stepper motors with linear motion are open-loop systems with a base and a slider. They provide high speeds and resolutions. The sliders are also called forcers which contain a permanent magnet, teeth, and motor windings. To balance the air gap, bearings are used in these motors because a magnetic attraction is created between the base and the slider. Linear stepper motors are cost effective and efficient when the linear motion is internally enabled in the motor. This helps eliminate the need for a number of external mechanical points and a separate transmission system is eliminated.
  • Linear Slide Stepper Motors:These motors offer various positioning systems and axes, and convert rotary motion into linear motion. They offer unidirectional free motion with the help of bearings. There are linear slide stepper actuators which facilitate motion in motorized slides such as machine tables and roller tables.
  • Miniature Linear Stepper Motors: As the name suggests, these are extremely small-sized motors with mini stepper motor linear actuators. But they come with advanced motion control technology. There are miniature actuators for these motors, which facilitate complex motions and deliver the required thrust.

Stepper Motor Driven Linear Actuators :

Actuators are devices which facilitate motion, and are fitted in components or tools which require movement. Commonly, stepper motor actuators are of the linear type, and hence the name. A stepper motor actuator produces force and motion along a linear or straight path. They share most of the properties with stepper motors, although there are some differences. A stepper motor has a shaft, while a stepper actuator has a precision lead screw and precision nut which together facilitate linear motion. They also have a stator and a rotor just like stepper motors, which in fact have improved resistivity as they are laminated with robust metal coatings such as silicon steel. The driver or controller of the stepper motor controls the movements of stepper motor linear actuators, in terms of switching on or off, speed, and rotation. The controllers translate the signals and clock pulses they receive into phase currents for stepper actuators to interpret and act.

Applications of Stepper Motors:

Stepper motors are used in a wide range of industries from manufacturing and security to medical and electronics. Here are some application areas of stepper motors:

  • Automated machine tools
  • Automotive gauges
  • Surveillance equipment such as cameras
  • Zooming functions in digital cameras
  • Medical imagers and samplers
  • Blood analysis machines
  • Dental photography equipment
  • Fluid pumps
  • Respirators
  • Hospital beds
  • Stretchers and incubators

If you require actuators and stepper motors for your application, ensure you source them from a reliable manufacturer and supplier. Venture Manufacturing Co. makes superior quality and technically perfect linear actuators and more. On certain types of actuators, Venture Mfg. offer stepper motor actuators and brushless DC motors.