How To Choose The Right Stepper Motor For 3D Printer?

Cheryl Owens14 Mar 2022

3D printers have become increasingly popular and more accessible to the public. They are something that people either want or need to produce their design or product. If you’re looking for a 3D printer, you may be wondering which model to purchase. You should first consider what type of printer will best suit your needs. Do you want an affordable model for occasional use, or do you need a professional machine for high-quality products? One of the most important features of any 3D printer is the motor. The motor is responsible for driving the extruder, and it's incredibly important because it determines how fast and accurate your prints are going to be. This blog post will discuss choosing the right stepper motor for your 3D printer. But before getting deeper into the selection, what is this stepper motor?

What is a stepper motor?

A stepper motor is a device that is used to generate an electrical current in a rotating magnetic field. These motors are commonly found in printers and other machines, like sewing machines. They are driven by an external power source, which provides energy for the wire coils inside the motor to wind in one direction. The coils take on different positions depending on how much power is applied. When applying power, the coil winds clockwise or counterclockwise. This motion changes the magnetic flux, generating an electrical current.


The stepper motor consists of coils and magnets that move back and forth at a set speed. The coil sets are connected to pins on the backside of the motor, which allows you to control how many steps per revolution. Depending on your needs, this can be adjusted from a 500-step/rev low-torque model for small-scale printing objects to a 2-million step/rev high-torque model for building large structures.

What makes a good 3D printer stepper motor?

When choosing the right stepper motor for your 3D printer, the first thing to consider is determining what type of materials you want to print with. There are two main materials that you can use with a 3D printer: ABS and PLA. ABS models are cheaper than PLA models, but they're also weaker. They are recommended for those who want to print only occasionally or for parts used in places that need durability, like a car engine. PLA models are stronger and more flexible than ABS models, but they're also much more expensive. They're recommended for those who want to print things that require higher quality prints, like jewellery ornaments. Another important consideration is whether you need a stepper motor with continuous torque or not. A continuous torque motor has higher torque than a non-continuous model but can't reach its maximum speed as easily as the other model can. It's great for printing high-quality parts because it won't slip out of position while moving at low speeds. However, if your movements are going to be larger, it may not be ideal due to the lower torque and speed capabilities. To conclude, it depends on the type of material you want to print with and how frequently you plan to use your printer to decide what kind of stepper motor model works best for you.

How to choose the right type of stepper motor for your 3D printer.

The first thing to consider when choosing a stepper motor is the size of your printer. A smaller 3D printer will typically use a smaller stepper, while a larger printer will need more powerful motors. In addition, you should also consider how often you plan on using your 3D printer. If it's not going to be in use often, it might be best to buy an economic model with less power. On the other hand, if you plan on using your 3D printer daily, you'll want to invest in something that has more power and better performance. Another important consideration is the weight of your printer. The weight of the extruder is directly related to how much power it needs to function properly. If your extruder is too heavy for the motor, it could cause problems such as overheating or overloading during prints. To prevent these problems, it's important that the machine has enough power for its extruder but remains lightweight and portable enough for easy transport and storage. When buying a new stepper motor for your 3D printer, make sure that it fits in with the size and weight requirements outlined above so that you can avoid any complications during printing or while maintaining the machine.

What are the pros and cons of different types of stepper motors?

Stepper motors are the standard for 3D printers, but different stepper motors vary in features and performance. The most common type is the bipolar stepper motor. However, you can also find unipolar stepper motors with a single rotor and an external power supply. Bipolar stepper motors have two coils of wire that create magnetic fields that interact with moving the shaft. In contrast, unipolar steppers have one coil and rely on a controlled-current circuit to move the shaft.


Unipolar steppers allow you to use your 3D printer without relying on a power supply or external hardware. Bipolar steppers are more reliable than unipolar ones because they don't require as much power or voltage to operate correctly.


Unipolar motors tend to be less powerful than bipolar ones because they don't require much current from their power supply. Unipolar motors need external circuitry for operation, making them more difficult to troubleshoot if something goes wrong due to increased complexity in electronics.

What stepper motor to buy for a professional 3D Printer

A professional machine with high-quality materials will require a specific stepper motor. These professional printers typically use NEMA 17 motors and cost more than $3,000. One thing to consider is how fast your prints will be with this type of stepper motor. This motor has 32 micro-steps per one full revolution, which puts it on par with other brands like Ultimaker and Afinia H800, which have 16 micro-steps per revolution. This is one factor that many people look at regarding print speed because it directly influences how long a project will take. For example, if you want your project finished in four hours but need a stepper motor with 16 micro-steps per revolution and thus 10-12 millimetres per second (mm/s), your project will take 20 hours more to complete.

Cheryl Owens

Cheryl Owens

Welcome to Printlitic! 3D printing became a hobby of mine 5 years ago with an earlier model of Anycubic printer. Since then, I have grown to love seeing what people can build & create, and how these printers can change the world.

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