The Best Stepper Motor Driver for 3D Printers

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It might not be the most exciting topic in the world, but the stepper motor driver you choose for your 3D printer can make a ton of difference when it comes to the final result of your prints. Looking for the best stepper motor driver for your 3D printer? You’re in the right place.

On this page, we’ll dive into the world of printer motors. We’ll explore what they do, why they’re important, and which ones you should consider for your printer at home. 3D printing is an incredible hobby, but there’s quite a lot to learn if you’re a newbie.

That’s where we come in. We’re dedicated to making the world of hobbyist printing more accessible and fun for as many people as possible. Check out the rest of our site for more tips, reviews, and recommendations!

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What is a 3D Printer Stepper Motor?

Understanding these motors requires a little bit of background knowledge about how 3D printing actually works. Don’t worry, we’ll try to keep our explanation fairly simple here.

When you design something for your machine to print, your computer translates it into many individual layers that will be built up piece by piece when printing. Your slicer communicates these layers to your printer using something called g code.

This code tells your machine the exact coordinates it should focus on from moment to moment. A stepper motor driver can move independently on both the x and y axis. These little components are how your printer nozzle gets to where it needs to be.

This means that they’re super important when it comes to the accuracy, consistency and quality of your prints,

Why do People Upgrade Their Stepper Motor?

So we’ve established that stepper motor drivers are important in 3D printing, but what specific reasons are there for considering an upgrade? In this section, we’ll dive into some of the most common reasons for buying new drivers for your gear.

More Consistent Results

The primary benefit of these units is that they increase your overall control of your project. Higher levels of control translate to more consistent results. When working with less premium printers, you may notice that multiple prints of the same model come out differently every time.

With better units installed in your machine, you should find that it’s much easier to get the results you need every time.

Improved Precision and Control

If you’ve tried a few prints before on a low-end machine, you may have found it difficult to get specific with your projects. Want intricate details? Finishing touches that make the print really shine? You’ll need some better stepper motor drivers!

Once you’ve upgraded, you’ll benefit from superior precision, accuracy, and control.

Reduced Noise

In case you didn’t know this already, 3D printers can be super loud! This is especially true with certain types of stepper motor driver. Less expensive models can save you money, but their motors can produce a lot of noise.

If you can afford to invest in something a little more premium, your setup can run a whole lot quieter.

Slash Energy Consumption

This is another big benefit to upgrading your existing gear. Your energy bill can quickly go through the roof if you print regularly. A huge component of this energy consumption comes from powering the motors of your machine.

Upgrade these motors, and you stand to see substantial reductions in your energy use.

Improved Safety and Durability

This of course depends on your specific printing environment, but some less premium setups can overheat fairly quickly. When electrical components overheat, this can cause them to degrade – fast.

Poor thermals can impact the durability of your printer and your final results when printing. Improving your stepper motor drivers can help your machine run much more efficiently. If you play your cards right, this could mean that your printer lasts significantly longer than it was going to before.

Questions to Ask When Buying a 3D Printer Stepper Motor Driver

We know that this kind of purchase can be a baffling one. It’s not exactly the easiest topic to wrap your head around. For this reason, we outline a few useful questions that you should ask yourself below.

They’re designed to help you narrow down your search when shopping.

Will This Work With My Machine?

This is probably the first question you should ask yourself when looking to upgrade your system. Unless a motor is going to work with your printer, there’s 0 point in buying it at all. Check and double-check the compatibility for any unit you consider.

The driver board is usually the sticking point when it comes to compatibility. If the driver board works with your machine, most other aspects should be fine too. Individual manufacturers usually publish helpful info for this kind of thing, so be sure to check this out too.

How Much do I Want to Spend on This?

Before looking at any specific products out there, it might be worth setting an upper price limit for yourself. How much did you spend on your printer in the first place? Is your max motor driver price reasonably proportional to this?

Upgrading your gear can make massive improvements, but it’s important to stay realistic when shopping. Setting limits for yourself will make it much easier to narrow down your search later on.

How Much Precision Do I Need?

Your level of upgrade will be determined largely by the type of work you’re hoping to achieve with your system. If you only ever want to print super simple projects, then a big investment probably isn’t worth it for you.

If you really want to take things up a notch, however, then you’ll want to consider a more premium stepper motor driver. It’s all about the type of hobbyist you are and the specific results you’re looking for.

Once you’ve figured this one out, the type of upgrade you need becomes much clearer.

Can I Install This Myself?

The process for installing a new stepper motor driver isn’t usually a complicated one. However, you should make sure that any specific model you’re considering doesn’t come with any unusual quirks that could make this step more hassle than it’s worth.

Most manufacturers usually have some form of installation guide online. YouTube is also full of tutorials for specific products.

Types of Stepper Motor Driver

As if things weren’t confusing enough already, there are multiple types of stepper motor driver available. Each achieves slightly different things so it’s definitely worth understanding the basics before spending your money.

The more you understand about what each motor type is for, the easier it will be to make the right decision when shopping.

PWM / Micro Step Drivers

Pulse width modulation drivers are sometimes also referred to as micro step drivers. As the latter name suggests, its movements are regulated as ‘micro steps’. This results in far smoother and more precisely controlled movements than you may be used to.

If you’re looking for a great deal of control, a PWM is a good way to go. One drawback here is that they tend to be a little more complex in design than other types of stepper motor driver. This means that they can be quite expensive.

Left / Right Drivers

Most people consider left/ right drivers to be a low performance option. They operate within a low to medium power range and don’t offer nearly the same levels of control as something like a pulse width modulation driver.

The upside here is that left/ right products tend to be very affordable. If you’re on a shoestring budget, then they’re worth considering. Just don’t expect them to deliver much increased accuracy or overall performance.

Bi-Level Drivers

The name for these drivers comes from the fact that they can use both a low and high voltage depending on what’s required of them. Once they’ve reached the power level required for your project, they can switch to a lower voltage to save energy.

This means that bi-level drivers are great for energy efficiency. They also tend to be pretty cost-effective for those working to a budget.

Best Stepper Motor Driver – Our Recommendations

Enough talk – let’s get into it. The best stepper motor driver is going to look a little different for everyone. The specific printer, home setup, and experience level you’re working with are all going to have a huge influence on the product that’s right for you.

For this reason, we’ve tried to find options for a broad range of use cases and environments. Check them out below!

How We’ve Found These Recommendations

We only want to make recommendations that are genuinely worth your time and money. We analyse online reviews, comparison pages, and customer feedback online to find the suggestions that we make here.

When researching, we consider the following:

  • Performance
  • Compatibility
  • Reliability
  • Customer reception online
  • Price
  • Durability
  • Noise level
  • Much more

If it’s on this page, we sincerely believe it’s at least worth checking out. Use our Amazon links provided to see listings with relevant info and prices. Read on to take your system to the next level!

Powerday A4988 StepStick

This option strikes a great balance between performance and affordability. It comes with enough power to improve your printing results while staying affordable enough to avoid breaking the bank any time soon.

There are a number of key benefits that come with choosing a unit like this. These include an automatic current decay mode that kicks in without manual input, excellent crossover-current protection, and a driver board that should work for most mainstream printers.

This is a safe, effective driver that could breathe new life into your existing setup. The specific listing that we’ve linked comes with five stepper modules and accompanying heat sinks.

The seller/ manufacturer/ Hobbypower has tons of similar options available online so be sure to check these out too.

Why We Love it:

  • Automatic current decay mode
  • Crossover-current protection
  • Great balance of performance and price
  • 5 units included

BIGTREETECH 3D Printer Part Stepstick Mute TMC2130 V3.0 Stepper Motor Driver

This is another excellent option that has more than earned its place here on this page. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing system, units like these are definitely worth considering closely.

The heat dissipation and noise reduction in particular really stand out with this product. Depending on your printing environment, overheating can quickly become an issue that affects how your final prints come out.

Motors that can handle temperature increases and even regulate how hot things get and how quickly are the best way to go. Look forward to a printer that is more precise, quiet, and powerful!

This particular listing comes with four driver units and accompanying heat sinks. Make sure that your particular printer will work with these before buying.

Why We Love it:

  • Great heat dissipation
  • Super quiet operation
  • Reasonably priced
  • Four units included with purchase

STEPPERONLINE CNC Stepper Motor Driver

The StepperOnline brand is backed by more than 10 years of 3d printing excellence. When it comes to 3D printing components and accessories, these guys certainly seem to know their stuff. Expect improved performance and more reliable results for your machine.

This particular model offers exceptional value when you consider the performance to price ratio available here. It uses a 1.0~4.2A, 20~50VDC, 1/128 microstep resolution and should be fairly simple to install if you have any experience with printer tinkering.

If you’re unsure, there’s no shame in looking up a tutorial or installation guide online. You can easily run into headaches with this kind of thing so it’s best to get clued-up in advance wherever possible.

This listing comes with one unit that can be installed into your existing machine for improved printing results.

Why We Love it:

  • Great value
  • Reliable StepperOnline brand
  • Boost your low-end machine’s performance!
  • Relatively easy to install

BIQU A4988 Compatible StepStick Stepper Motor Driver Module

Another reliable option, this time from the guys at Biqu. This listing offers five units that all come with their own heat sink for improved heat dissipation and thermal performance. The driver board used here is as close as you can get to universal.

It won’t work with every machine, but this board design is very common with 3D printers. This means that when it comes to compatibility, this is a great option for most people.

When installing new components into their expensive equipment, most people worry about what impact this might have on their machine. Fortunately, the safety considerations here are numerous and effective.

These motor drivers come with thermal protection, over-current protection, and ground fault protection right out of the box. Provided you follow the user guide closely, you shouldn’t have to worry about overheating or printer damage.

For improved performance, great compatibility, and excellent safety features, it’s tough to go wrong with this one.

Why We Love it:

  • Great safety features
  • The driver board used is very common
  • Can be ‘overclocked’ to use a higher voltage than you’re used to
  • High value

ERYONE TMC2208 V1.2 3D Printer Stepper Motor Driver Module

Last, but certainly not least, is this option from Eryone. As mentioned earlier on this page, less premium motors can produce a whole lot of noise. In certain environments, this can make printing a real hassle.

If your existing setup is loud, the TMC2208 might just be the answer to your troubles. It’s a super quiet, two-phase system that offers superior levels of control and efficiency than other motors on the market.

This isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it offers plenty of bang for your buck. For a little under $20, you’ll get 5 motor units with accompanying heat sinks that could significantly improve your printing results at home.

One thing to keep in mind here is that you’ll need an extra fan for these motors to keep things running smoothly. Their increased performance means that they run fairly hot. An extra fan will help you avoid damage from overheating.

Why We Love it:

  • It runs super quiet
  • 5 motors included
  • Eryone usually makes great products
  • Relatively simple installation process

Best Stepper Motor Driver for 3D Printer – Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve found our tips and recommendations on this page helpful. One thing to keep in mind is that a motor upgrade is probably only worth it once you know what you’re looking for.

Getting some printing experience under your belt is the best way to learn what kind of upgrade will actually improve your results. It’s quite easy to waste money on this kind of purchase if you have no idea what you’re doing.

Our advice is to spend a little time getting familiar with your equipment. Once you identify a specific bottleneck in your system, it’s time to start thinking about which kind of motor might be best.

Whichever option you choose, we hope it takes your prints to the next level!

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In 2019 Shabbir bought a Tevo Tarantula and fell in love with 3D printing. He now shares his tips and love of 3d printing with the world exclusively through Maker Shop. Here's how he builds Ender 3s that can print at over 1000mm/s (25x stock!) for under $600.