Stepper drivers/controllers continue to make their mark on factory automation by offering a low-cost alternative to hydraulics and pneumatics, and price/performance to compete with servos in selected applications. But beyond the basics, manufacturers of stepper systems are advanced control options including network connectivity, I/O solutions and software tools that enhance their basic product offerings.
The ability to create multi-axis stepper systems using networking or to provide stepper solutions that integrate into larger systems where some axes benefit from stepper technology, creates unique system architectures.
STEPPER CONTROLLER/DRIVER WITH CANOPEN
QuickSilver has added a CANopen option to its smallest closed-loop stepper motor controller/driver. CANopen can be configured for peer-to-peer, master or slave, which allows the controllers to share I/O and registers with other CANopen-enabled SilverDust controllers or third-party CANopen devices such as I/O blocks, encoders or PLCs.
For multi-axis systems, several MG-Cs can be connected and, with one unit configured as the master, other axes can receive motion commands over CANopen. This single-axis, programmable controller/driver is specially designed to provide servo control using third-party stepper motors, creating a closed-loop stepper system.
STEPPER DRIVES FOR CNC CONTROL
Complex CNC applications are increasingly implementing stepper motor technology, with pneumatic systems being replaced by electrical drives. To meet this need, B&R Automation is offering ACOPOSmicro — an extremely compact drive for operating stepper and servo motors in the lower performance range.
At 63-mm wide, the drives save space in the switching cabinet. Voltage levels of 80V dc and 110/230V ac are available in order to achieve higher torque at high speeds. The performance ranges between 50W and 1 kW. POWERLINK and the X2X remote backplane are onboard as fieldbus interfaces.
The unit's cooling design makes side and back wall mounting possible. Cold plate mounting for oil or water cooling is available in addition to wall and feed-through mounting. This cooling design reduces costs by eliminating the need to carry out additional work for climate-control and the related service tasks.
MICROSTEPPING DRIVER AND CONTROLLER
The R356 microstepping driver/controller from Lin Engineering combines intelligence and high performance in one small package. The package is capable of outputting up to 3A of peak current and can also handle from +12 to 40 dc volts of input.
The R356 is capable of microstepping resolutions ranging from 2 to 256x. This extended range results in up to 51,200 miniature steps for every full revolution on a bipolar 1.8 degree stepper motor. Other features include fully programmable ramps and speeds, software selectable hold and move currents, four configurable digital I/O and two dedicated inputs.
The driver/controller features RS485 communication (RS232 and USB converter cards available). Intuitive commands can be preset to execute on power up. Since programs can be stored in onboard memory, it can be used as a stand-alone unit.