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Stepper Motor Overheating - How To Resolve This Issue

Are you looking for solutions to resolve the Stepper Motor Overheating? Let Smooth Motors help you with top-quality motors. Read how you can reduce the heating in this article. 

January 26, 2024

The process of transferring electricity via a wire coil causes every electric motor in use to generate heat while it runs. To generate rotation, electric motors employ an electromagnetic circuit that includes coils made of copper wire. Copper is a great conductor, yet it becomes hot because of its resistance. The motor's temperature is determined by the current flowing into it and the winding resistance. In contrast to servo motors, which provide only the current needed to generate the intended motion, stepper motors must always have their full-rated current supplied.


Stepper Motor Heat Sources

Stepper motors produce a lot of heat when used at full power, but their design accounts for it. Hybrid stepper motor designs include other heat sources, like vibration and eddy currents, and motor windings, which account for the bulk of the heat produced. A sequence of square wave pulses with a harmonic frequency spectrum is used to operate the motor, which causes it to vibrate. There is an increase in both heat and auditory noise caused by this vibration.


How Can You Reduce This Heat Up?

It is normal for a stepper motor to generate some heat; however, if stepper motor overheating happens often, there are methods to lower that temperature. Most often, a function of stepper drives known as idle current reduction is used, which, while the motor is not in use, decreases the current provided to it to a certain percentage. During idle circumstances, the entire holding torque of the stepper motor is usually unnecessary, allowing for a reduction in the applied current and, therefore, the motor's heat generation. There are more complex ways to lower heating, such as using a drive's micro-stepping capability or shaping the current wave to eliminate harmonics and smooth the pulses sent to the motor.

Additionally, heat-sinking techniques may reduce stepper motor overheating, enabling it to run cooler. If the drive output current exceeds the stepper motor's maximum current, the components may be misaligned. Most stepper drives' dip switches or software allow output current adjustment.

Stepper Motor Overheating


Three Top Methods To Reducing The Heatup

Lower the Motor's Holding Current

A motor's operation's acceleration and deceleration phases are crucial to many motion control applications. Torque is not needed as much when the engine is idling or in a holding position. It is recommended to lower motor current under these situations.

By default, this is done by most contemporary stepper drives. The drive may, for instance, cut the idle current in half compared to the operating current. The idle current may be programmed to any number between zero and one hundred percent with more advanced stepper drivers. Reducing idle current significantly affects motor heat if a step motor sits stationary, even briefly.


Reduce Running Current

When picking a step motor, many design engineers go for an overly cautious model, meaning it has more torque than is necessary for the task at hand. Experimenting with different values for the motor's operating current might help find the best one. Simply put, you must watch the motion output and slightly lower the running current. If the trial run was successful, Retest the motor's performance after lowering the operating current.

The motor will misalign or stall unless you keep adjusting it. The engine should return to precise placement with a little increase in current. When a step motor is too big for its intended use, engineers may sometimes find ways to lower the motor's operating current to a point where the temperature drop is noticeable.


Closed-loop Step Motor

Switching from an open-loop to a closed-loop step motor system drastically reduces stepper motor overheating. If equipped with a high-resolution encoder, step motors may be controlled by servos in a closed-loop system. Because of the recent change to the system's architecture, the engineer must change the motor and drive used by the application. However, the significant drop in temperature is typically beneficial.

Feedback loops allow precise control of step motor current, velocity, and position in a closed-loop step motor system. By controlling the amount of current flowing into the motor from the drive, the current loop guarantees that the torque requirement is always met. Current flowing into the motor decreases mechanically whenever torque production is inadequate or nonexistent. Sometimes, this closed-loop management approach may reduce motor temperature by half or more.

The reduced current flowing through the motor windings of a closed-loop stepper allows for faster acceleration and higher productivity (up to fifty percent more torque than specified holding torque) while also making the device quieter to operate (up to 10 dB quieter). The system's accuracy is greater when there are no delays.

Stepper Motor


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