kwando wrote:Can someone explain what stepper drivers are and what their purpose is? Is it an extra thing that's put onto the controller or does the controller board usually already incorporate them?
Stepper drivers are small printed circuit boards, usually about 25 mm square, typically with one stepper motor driver integrated circuit. The controller sends them STEP and DIRECTION signals and the stepper driver converts that into the electrical signals needed by the stepper motors, including amplifying the power by a lot more than the controller could supply. The stepper motor driver ICs also do some other stuff like managing the microstepping, current limiting to prevent overheating, etc.
Most of the control electronics (RAMPS, Sanguino, Arteeg) have connectors to install one stepper motor drive per stepper motor, but some of the newer controllers like the Ordiuno have built in stepper motor drivers on the main board.
The info is out there. I've spent over a month obsessively reading forums like this trying to learn 3D printing stuff. The RepRap forum has a lot of answers to questions just like this.
Someone needs to make a single document or video... Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Building A 3D Printer But Were Afraid To Ask