Printable stepper motors?

I am absolute mesmo-rized by this video depicting a printable integrated stepper motor and controller to be built with a RepRap machine.

Going high risk steampunk [via ladyada]

14 thoughts on “Printable stepper motors?

  1. stepper motor says:

    you should probably call that something other than a stepper motor. I was (and likely many others will be) disappointed to find this, cool as it may be, with stepper motor in the title. Neat little project though.

  2. Dustbuster says:

    Well it rotates, in a step-wise fashion, a fixed and consistent angle with each step. Sounds like a stepper motor to me. Not the kind you’re used to seeing, but then that might be the point. I think the design might be a bit prone to wear over time, which might limit torque somewhat; but as a proof-of-concept, its pretty cool. And the twin coil reversing idea is clever.

  3. Chris says:

    This design is really cool, but I’m a bit confused. I looked at the series of youtube videos showing some other “printable stepper” designs and I don’t understand the focus on making the control “mechanical”. All these designs still require a clock and the changing of bit inputs over time, so they will still require some kind of simple electronic control input; in other words, you can’t just apply a constant DC voltage and have it “go”. I don’t know the specifics of the Reprap robot, but are they confused about what actually qualifies as a “stepper motor”? A normal stepper motor is _extremely_ easy to control, usually requiring 4 bits input instead of 2. Both a standard stepper motor and these designs will require an electronic controller. What’s the deal?

  4. Colecoman1982 says:

    @Chris: I can’t speak for the designer, but it might have been intended to further the goal of the Reprap project. One of their, long term, goals is to work towards creating a Von Neumann Universal Constructor type device that can replicate itself from base materials. Some of the hardest parts to replicate are electronics components like computer chips. By replacing the stepper driver electronics with a mechanical system, you increase the percentage of the total reprap that can be self-replicated without the need for high end technology out of the reach of the average garage inventor (in this case, semi-conductor component fabrication). Ideally, this design might allow the machine to be controlled, completely, by the computer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ^^ you had me until the last sentence:
    “controlled, completely, by the computer.”

  6. Colecoman1982 says:

    Not really sure where you’re coming from. Right now, from what I understand, the present repraps require a computer to send the commands to the device at which point it is translated into commands sent to the stepper motor controllers. Would this design make reprap into a true Von Neumann Universal Constructor? Of course not. But, as I mentioned, it would be a step in the direction of making as much of the device self replicating as possible.

  7. TigerTalar says:

    Clock, computer and program
    Yes there are mechanical clocks around i guess. Computer? maybe not needed but surely. Program memory, what! who said punchcards? yeah i guess they are mechanical and printable by the same machine that they control.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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