The Role of Holding Torque in Hybrid Stepper Motor Operation



Stepper motors are widely used in various industries due to their precise and controlled movement capabilities. One of the key factors that determine the performance of a stepper motor is its holding torque. Holding torque plays a crucial role in maintaining the position of the motor when it is stationary, preventing any involuntary movement. In this article, we will explore the significance of holding torque in hybrid stepper motor operation and its impact on different applications.

Understanding Holding Torque

Holding torque, also referred to as detent torque, is the amount of torque required to prevent a stepper motor from rotating when there is no external force applied to it. This torque is generated by the magnetic field created by the stator's stationary coils and the rotor's permanent magnets. The holding torque is instrumental in ensuring the motor remains in position when powered off or holding a load in place.

The Influence of Holding Torque in Positioning Accuracy

Positioning accuracy is critical in many applications where precise movement is required. Holding torque plays a pivotal role in achieving accurate positioning. When the motor is stepping, each step corresponds to a specific angle of rotation. The holding torque ensures that the rotor remains firmly in position after each step, without any deviation caused by external factors such as vibration or gravitational forces. This ability to maintain precise positions is especially crucial in applications like robotics, CNC machines, and 3D printers, where even the slightest movement error can lead to significant inaccuracies.

The holding torque is directly related to the motor's ability to maintain its position, and higher holding torque translates to better positioning accuracy. Motors with low holding torque may experience positioning errors due to slipping or micro-movements caused by background vibrations or irregularities in the load.

Holding Torque and Motor Overload Capacity

In many industrial applications, stepper motors are subjected to heavy loads and sudden changes in torque requirements. Holding torque plays a vital role in ensuring the motor can handle these situations without losing its position. When a motor is operating near its maximum torque capacity, there is a risk of it stalling or skipping steps. The holding torque provides the necessary resistance and stability to prevent such issues.

A motor with insufficient holding torque may become overwhelmed in scenarios where a sudden change in torque demand occurs. For example, in a CNC machine, the motor's holding torque becomes crucial when the cutting tool encounters a particularly resistant material, demanding a higher torque output. If the motor lacks sufficient holding torque, it may not be able to hold its position, resulting in inaccurate cuts or even damage to the machine.

Holding Torque and Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a significant concern in many applications, particularly those that require continuous motor operation. A stepper motor that constantly generates high holding torque even when not in motion consumes unnecessary power, leading to increased energy consumption and heat generation. To address this issue, newer designs of hybrid stepper motors incorporate technologies that reduce the holding torque when the motor is not stepping.

These technologies, such as low-power detent or dynamic detent mechanisms, reduce the current flowing through the motor coils during periods of inactivity, thereby reducing the holding torque. When precise positioning is not required, this reduction in holding torque helps reduce power consumption and heat buildup in the motor. However, when the motor needs to hold a position, the necessary holding torque is instantly engaged to maintain stability.

Applications and Considerations for Proper Holding Torque Selection

Determining the appropriate holding torque for a specific application requires considering various factors, such as the load requirements, speed, precision, and environmental conditions. Here are a few application examples and considerations that can guide the selection process:

1. Robotics: In robotic applications, holding torque is essential for maintaining position accuracy, especially when the robot is required to hold its position for extended periods. The weight of the payload and the robot's structure should be taken into account when selecting the appropriate holding torque.

2. CNC Machines: CNC machines often require high torque to withstand cutting forces and to maintain precision. The holding torque must be able to resist any forces that might jeopardize the position accuracy during machining operations.

3. Textile Machinery: In textile machinery, such as looms or embroidery machines, holding torque is crucial to ensure precise positioning of threads or needles. The holding torque should be capable of overcoming any external force, such as resistance from the material being worked on.

4. Medical Equipment: Holding torque is significant in medical equipment like MRI machines, where high precision and accurate positioning are critical. The holding torque should be able to counter any vibrations that may be present in the environment.


Holding torque is a critical factor in the operation of hybrid stepper motors. It directly influences positioning accuracy, overload capacity, energy efficiency, and overall performance. By selecting the appropriate holding torque for specific applications, engineers can ensure that the motor maintains its position accurately, avoids stalling or skipping steps under heavy load conditions, and operates energy-efficiently. Understanding the role of holding torque enables engineers to make informed decisions while designing systems that rely on stepper motors, ultimately improving the performance and reliability of various applications across industries.


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