A or a step motor is a brushless, synchronous motor which divides a full rotation into a number of steps. Unlike a brushless DC motor which rotates continuously when a fixed DC voltage is applied to it, a step motor rotates in discrete step angles. The therefore are manufactured with steps per revolution of 12, 24, 72, 144, 180, and 200, resulting in stepping angles of 30, 15, 5, 2.5, 2, and 1.8 degrees per step. The stepper motor can be controlled with or without feedback.
Stepper motors work on the principle of electromagnetism. There is a soft iron or magnetic rotor shaft surrounded by the electromagnetic stators. The rotor and stator have poles which may be teethed or not depending upon the type of stepper. When the stators are energized the rotor moves to align itself along with the stator (in case of a permanent magnet type stepper) or moves to have a minimum gap with the stator (in case of a variable reluctance stepper). This way the stators are energized in a sequence to rotate the stepper motor.
By construction the step motors come into three broad classes:
1. Permanent Magnet Stepper
2. Variable Reluctance Stepper
3. Hybrid Step Motor
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