If you’ve disassembled an electric motor at least once your life, you should pretty much know the basics of this fascinating invention. But motors come in all shapes and sizes, and for just as many different purposes.
A stepper motor isn’t very different from traditional electric motors, but it has a few particularities that make it, well… particular. The copper coils that traditionally wrap around the rotor’s blades are now placed outwards and in greater numbers – as many as you want steps.. The reason is so that the rotor can be spun in discrete increments (chunks of what would normally be a full 360 degree rotation), typically controlled by a computer. The copper coils, also known as phases, can be energized in sequence so to give the rotor a nudge one step at a time. Stepper motors have great applicability in robotics, and not only.
Okay, so now we know the basics of a stepper motor as well. If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, then a video will surely answer every question that you might have about this type of contraption. The video embedded below is the work of Anthony Garofalo, who has 3D printed one of these babies for educational purposes. In his interview with 3dprint.com, Anthony explains that he used LEDs to mimic the movement of the rotor so that students can better understand the fundamentals of the device.
“I am a visual learner and I feel working models like this really help students grasp concepts faster,” he said. “I have already had multiple teachers and professor contact me saying they will make one to teach their students. I am almost done with Version 2 which I am really excited about. It is an Axial Flux stepper motor. Most people have never heard of them so I think it will make a great educational model as well.”