When it comes to choosing between a stepper motor vinyl cutter and a servo motor vinyl cutter there are several points of consideration. Before jumping into these points, it is important to have an understanding of the difference in construction between a servo motor system and a stepper motor system. In a nutshell, a servo motor is a regular motor with an encoder disk on the back of the shaft that may be read by an optic. The motor has a brake as well. The motor spins, reads its position on the encoder disk and then stops the shaft upon command. A stepper motor is driven by magnets that are cut up into sections. When the magnets are pulsed, they rotate one notch. A typical stepper motor may have 200 notches per revolution. For very good, detailed explanations of the differences between these motors, please see Wikipedia:
The following points should be considered when deciding to pursue a Servo Motor Vinyl Cutter:
- Servo Motor Vinyl Cutters are very quiet. When they run, you basically cannot hear the motors running. All you really hear is the solenoid actuating in the carriage and the vinyl running over the cutter. When I am on the phone with a client and performing test cuts I can never hear the vinyl cutter running in the background. Conversely, a stepper motor cutter is quite noisy. This noise comes from the way that the stepper motor actuates. The noise you hear is related to the pulse actuations of the magnets inside the motors. When I am on the phone with a client performing test cuts with a stepper motor cutter I always know when the cutter is running because I can always hear it in the background over the phone. Check back with this post later as we post recordings of the noise level between a ProCut Servo Vinyl Cutter by Saga and a ProCut Contour Vinyl Cutter by Saga (stepper motor driven). Because servo motors are so quiet, they are well suited to schools and office environments and for people that will do a lot of cutting.
- Servo Motors are very powerful and maintain accuracy under heavy loading due the the closed loop feedback. Because servo motors are better under heavy load than their stepper motor counterparts and compensate for slippage, they can more reliably pull through thicker materials such as .030″ thick magnetic material or Buttercut stencil material. If you are considering cutting through thicker materials then you will need a servo cutter.
- Servo Motors are much more accurate than stepper motors. Because servo motors utilize a closed loop feedback system with sensing on the shaft position servo motors will always hit their intended stopping point. This is not true with a stepper motor. If the system told the stepper motor to move 90 pulses clock wise but because there was significant drag on the system the motor slipped a few pulses and ended at 88 then the system would stop at 88 pulses thinking that it went all the way to 90. In addition, servo motor encoder disks generally have finer graduation than the stepper motor magnet teeth. Because of this difference, servo motors can cut longer cuts and are more accurate when closing the loop on a longer cut and in retracing the same vectors when needed.
- Servo Motors are faster. Although servo motors are faster, stepper motors can cut vinyl as fast as vinyl should be cut. Cutting speed in general is not really a point of differentiation between servo and stepper systems.
- Servo Motor Vinyl Cutter parts are much more expensive. Because the repair parts (especially the motors and the motherboard) are more expensive you will want to figure this into your decision making process. CutterPros helps alleviate some concern with a 3 year warranty on servo systems however, someday you may need to replace a motherboard or a motor.
If you have any questions regarding this post please contact us at http://www.CutterPros.com