SoftStep microstepping technology
The affordability and reliability of step motors – “steppers” – has made this technology highly popular among many industries today, ranging from electronic printers and disk drives to aircraft controls and many CNC applications. One of the major reasons for this is the application of microstepping drives, which have improved the smoothness and accuracy of the step motors.
Yet, for many users, such as manufacturers using CNC equipment, the microstepping technology still has some conspicuous drawbacks. Despite micro-stepping technology already on the market, step motors are still subject to vibration, noise and harmonic resonance issues because of the way they are driven. Even today’s microstepping motors can break tooling such as bits when operating at higher speeds, and often have chatter problems that create flaws when cutting arcs or circular shapes.
Now those drawbacks have largely been overcome with the development of “SoftStep” microstepping, a technology that can virtually eliminate noise and vibration that have been problematic in the past.
“Through the SoftStep advancement to microstepping, a step motor drive is approaching the level of smooth performance of continuous rotation motors while still being a lower price option for machine builders,” said Thomas Hart, president of Testra Corporation.
Hart explained SoftStep technology essentially converts driver data into ultra-fine microstepping (256 microsteps per motor step), ramping speeds up and down between steps to create a very smooth motion without the traditional stepper clicking, buzzing or whining noises – even at high speeds.
Available as standard or customized solutions, a variety of SoftStep drive systems deliver the benefits of ultra smooth microstepping regardless of selected step size, with on-board processors that treat input steps as small vector moves and smoothly chains them together.
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