Stepper motors are used in a wide range of applications, and according to motion solution provider ElectroCraft, most are used to translate rotary motion into linear movement. The use of integrated leadscrews can be an excellent choice for such applications, which can be configured to prioritize high linear speeds or high precision and force.

There are three main ways in which leadscrews can be integrated with stepper motors:

  • Guided linear actuator (captive): A leadscrew is threaded through a nut that is an integral part of the internal motor shaft. The end of the screw is attached to a moving load. A built-in mechanism on the motor assembly prevents leadscrew rotation, producing linear motion.
  • Linear actuator (non-captive): This configuration works in a similar manner to a guided linear actuator; however the leadscrew is not rotationally fixed. The leadscrew must be externally fixtured to the load so that it cannot rotate and will instead produce linear motion.
  • Leadscrew motor (external nut): The leadscrew is integrated to the motor shaft and rotates to move an externally mounted nut in a linear direction. The nut connects to the load and must be prevented from rotating in order to produce linear motion.

Figure 1. Stepper linear actuator configurations. Source: ElectroCraftFigure 1. Stepper linear actuator configurations. Source: ElectroCraft

ElectroCraft AxialPower™ Enhanced Series: Greater force per frame size

ElectroCraft has extensive experience with each style of linear actuation, and the AxialPower™ Enhanced Series (APES) actuators can generate up to 50% more peak force than similarly sized offerings from other suppliers. Product selection is configurable or completely customizable, including a variety of leadscrew selections.

ElectroCraft APES linear actuators have been available in a NEMA11 frame size for several years but are now being offered in both NEMA17 and NEMA23 frames for greatly enhanced performance capabilities. In addition to multiple frame sizes, motors can be configured in different lengths and winding options to produce the needed motor torque and speed output. While the enhanced output force of APES actuators aren’t always needed, more capable systems can provide greater reliability when not pushed to their limits.

Figure 2. Linear actuators for laboratory equipment. Source: ElectroCraftFigure 2. Linear actuators for laboratory equipment. Source: ElectroCraft

Unlike many motor suppliers, ElectroCraft provides full linear motion solutions, which equipment manufacturers may want to consider as an option versus integrating such a mechanical system in-house. ElectroCraft also offers a variety of stepper drive options, from simple open loop stepper control using discrete inputs to sophisticated closed loop servo control with built-in motion capabilities and network communications such as CAN bus or EtherCAT.

ElectroCraft: Experience full system integration

ElectroCraft brings over 50 years of experience to the table as a global provider of dependable motion control products. ElectroCraft linear actuators can be found in medical and laboratory equipment, semiconductor processing applications, industrial machinery and other applications. ElectroCraft strives to support solutions for many years, even decades at times, allowing the end user to maintain designs and equipment well into the future.

With the new ElectroCraft offerings in NEMA17 and NEMA23, machine builders have further options for high force (up to 400 lbs) or high speed output. More info on ElectroCraft is available via the website and via phone at 844-338-8114.