3D Printer Stepper Motor Useful Guide

by Mike Brooks | Last Updated: May 4, 2022

3D printing needs you to set up all elements correctly for your workpiece to succeed. All components must work in unison and to achieve this feature, all parts need to be in place, as expected.

3D Printer Stepper Motor

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These components include the extruder, print bed, and most importantly, the stepper motor.

The motor ensures the axes move swiftly while printing your projects. Luckily, due to the 3D printer’s modular design, several motor types can fit in.

The stepper motor is what will determine the print quality. A better stepper means a better print quality.

The wide variety of motors can present a challenge, especially to beginners, when selecting the best motors for their 3D printers.

Worry no more; this article is a complete guide to 3D printer stepper motor useful guide. We have covered all you need to know about the 3D printer stepper motor.

Besides, we’ve listed the best stepper motors and best stepper motor drivers to consider. Read through to learn more.

What Is a Stepper Motor in a 3D Printer?

The stepper motor is an essential element of a 3D printer that controls the movement of the axes. The stepper drive is what controls the stepper motors.

For better operation, you need to customize the speed, precision, power, and temperature of the 3D printer’s motors. In case of a motor failure, you can replace it with a new one.

One factor to consider is that replacing the original stepper motor drivers with silent stepper drivers reduces the operating noise of the printer.

Do 3D Printers Use Stepper Motors?

Yes, 3D printers use stepper motors. This component is an essential part of a 3D printer. It is used to control and move the axes around while printing your 3D outputs.

They also have several other applications, including moving the extruder. The extruder assembly has a stepper motor that connects and pulls the filament to the extruder.

It can also be used to move the build platform along the axes; x, y, and z-axis. Their application depends on the type of 3D printer you have.

The stepper motor work by moving the object to a fixed repeated position and holding that position. However, you need to customize the interval to which it should move.

3D Printer Stepper Motor Types

There are several types of 3D printer stepper motors. Below is a list of the best ones to use in your 3D printers.

a) STEPPERONLINE Nema 17 Geared Stepper Motor

The STEPPERONLINE Nema 17 Geared Stepper Motor is more than a stepper motor. It has an integrated planetary gearbox, which operates at a 5:18:1 gear ratio.

STEPPERONLINE Nema 17 Geared Stepper Motor Gear Ratio 5:1 3D Printer Extruder Motor DIY CNC Robotics

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It provides the necessary step-down power needed for the smooth performance of the extruder motor, CNC robotics, and the 3D printer in general.

Despite their multifunctionality nature, they sacrifice speed to achieve more torque. It also has a high torque and a 0.35 degrees stepper angle.




b) Stepperonline 27:1 Planetary Gearbox Nema 17 Stepper Motor

The STEPPERONLINE 27:1 Planetary Gearbox Nema 17 Stepper Motor is a motor with high power conversion rates which can last for a long period.
STEPPERONLINE 27:1 Planetary Gearbox Nema 17 Stepper Motor DIY CNC Hobby Camera Robotics

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It is compatible with 3D printers with high torque and low-speed requirements.

Its gear ratio is 26:85:1, supplied by the planetary gearbox. Besides, it has a voltage input supply of 1.68A for top performance. The motor is highly efficient and convenient.




c) Usongshine Nema 17 Stepper Motor

The Usongshine Nema 17 Stepper Motor is a quality bipolar motor used in extruders and 3D printers.

Usongshine Nema 17 Geared Stepper Motor Gear Ratio 5.18:1 Planetary Gearbox for 3 D Printer DIY CNC Robotics

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It has the following specifications. Motor type; bipolar, intuitive design with a lightweight for portability. Besides, has high torque and quality build steel body.

Its converter comes with a silicon steel rotor and a motor coil for durability.




d) FYSETC 42-34 Nema 17 Stepper Motor for 3D Printer and CNC machines

The FYSETC 42-34 Nema 17 Stepper Motor for 3D Printer and CNC machines is a high-power motor designed for frequent and advanced printing needs.
FYSETC 3D Printer Motors Nema 17 Stepper Motor 42-34 Motor 1.8 Stepper Angle 1A 2 Phase Body 4-Lead with 39.3inch Cable for 3D Printer Extruder CR-10 10S Ender 3/ Pro/V2 Ender 5

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Despite this motor having more power, it is light, making it portable. That reason is what makes it widely used by 3D printing companies and experts.

The motor has a holding torque rate of 0.35Nm. Besides, it has a current rating of 1A and a voltage rating of 6V. Its build body material is primarily aluminum, making the motor weigh 220 grams.

It comes with a complete set of accessories, which are easy to connect. You can use this stepper motor with several 3D printers and CNC machines.




What Is the NEMA Standard?

NEMA is the acronym for National Electrical Manufacturers Association. It is a U.S corporation of electrical equipment manufacturers.

NEMA has stepper motor standards globally, which means that the NEMA-branded stepper motors would have the same features worldwide.

These features include torque, dimensions, current capacity, and voltage capacity.

However, some other motors comply with the NEMA standards. For instance, there are ancient AC motors with the same specifications as NEMA motors.

However, despite this motor meeting the NEMA standards, you can classify it or use it interchangeably with a stepper motor.

Which Stepper Motor Is Best for 3D Printer?

The best stepper motor for 3D printing is the STEPPERONLINE 27:1 Planetary Gearbox Nema 17 Stepper Motor. It has high power supply rates which can last for a long period.

It also has low noise and better heat dissipation for less heat production.

Besides, its versatile design allows for convenience while using the tool. Moreover, it is a highly efficient motor as far as 3D printers are concerned, ensuring top performance when printing 3D projects.

3D Printer Stepper Motor Driver [Stepper Driver]

The 3D printer stepper motor driver is the most crucial part of the 3D printer stepper motor. Large prefabricated 3D printers have in-built drivers on their mainboards.

You can replace the driver if it is on a sister board; this is the best stepper motor driver. However, the one soldered permanently is irreplaceable.

The good thing is that you can change the motor without replacing the driver.

You can consider factors like voltage and current ratings when selecting the best 3D printer stepper motor drivers. You should ensure that the two values are compatible with what motor supports.

In that regard, you should always make sure that the amperage and voltage capacity of the driver equals or exceeds the motor’s requirements.

Note that for more torque, you need a high current supply with a constant voltage requirement.

Another factor to consider when selecting a suitable motor driver is the number of micro-steps. The micro-steps are the amplitudes produced by an electric current flow.

The number of micro-steps determines the vibration and noise the 3D printer produces.

Keeping the values as low as possible ensures a higher torque and performance precision. Consider this example: for a full rotation, your 3D printer will need 52,200 micro steps if the motor has 200 steps and a number of 256x.

The board is another factor to consider when choosing a suitable motor driver. This element protects the motor driver against overheating. It also stabilizes the current supply and prevents short-circuiting.

You might like: Stepper Motor Cooling (4 Easy Ways)

How Many Stepper Motors Are in a 3D Printer?

There are four stepper motors in 3D printers. These stepper motors are attached to the X-, Y-, and Z-axes. The X and Y axes have one motor each, that is connected using screws and belts.

However, the Z-axis can either have one or two stepper motors.

These stepper motors use screws because this is the point where all tool head weight exerts pressure.

Note that if your 3D printer has two stepper motors on the Z-axis, the total motors would be five; otherwise, if it has one motor, the total motors would be four.

The remaining stepper motor is the one fixed at the extrusion point. It controls the filament extrusion process. It is fixed to a pulley, gear, and a spring.


Are All NEMA 17 Stepper Motors the Same?

No, not all NEMA 17 stepper motors are the same. The NEMA 17 only determines the faceplate dimensions for the motor mounting purposes.

However, other motor features are different. Therefore, NEMA 17 stepper motors may differ in step count, step size, shaft style, gearing, wiring, coils, and phases.

Are All 3D Printer Stepper Motors the Same?

No, stepper motors differ from each other. NEMA has a set of standards that applies to most stepper motors, meaning the NEMA motors will have the same voltage, torques, dimensions, capacity, and many more features.

However, 3D printer stepper motors will have differences in their features, including the construction material, current rating, gearing, shaft type, and their make; either unipolar or bipolar.

What Stepper Motors Does the Ender 3 Use?

Ender 3 uses motor model 42-34 NEMA 17 motors (see at Amazon). These are the motor types that work best with Ender 3 printers (see at Amazon). These include Ender 3 CR-10, CR-10s, S5, i3 select mini, and many more.

For instance, the FYSETC 3D Printer Motors (see at Amazon) Nema 17 Stepper Motor is widely used with Ender 3 printers.

It has a 1.8 stepper angle, 1A current rating, a 0.35Nm holding torque, and 220 grams weight with an Aluminium body.


3D printer stepper motors have proven crucial in 3D printers. However, to ensure the best possible result in your 3D printing, you need to pair your stepper motor with a stepper driver with the same specifications.

Also, consider a motor with a replaceable driver to allow for replacement when the original driver fails.

Michael Brooks is the founder of M3DZone.com. He sees a very bright future for 3D printing that's why his mission is to try and make this easy for everyone. Discover your hidden talent and creativity. You can follow here: Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.