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I equipped my Makerbot Replicator 2x with silent stepper drivers TMC2100. According to the product page I reduced Vref from 127 (factory default) to 25 in the printer settings as well as in my start G-code.

With this I get horrible layer shifting (a few millimeters!), even if I reduce print- and travel-acceleration to 300. The layer shifting is mostly happening on the Y-axis, but also on X-axis. Not only layer shifting was happening, also the extruder-motors lost many steps.

To fight this problem I increased the Vref little by little. At around 70 for X and Y axis (and 50 for extruders) all layer shift- and extrusion problems were gone. Also I had to install a dedicated fan for the stepper drivers, because they got very hot.

I was happy with this solution for about 10 minutes, then I noticed that the stepper motors are getting so hot I burned my fingertips by touching them. My guess for the motor temperature would be 80~90 °C.

So my question is: Are those TMC2100 stepper driver unsuitable for my usecase somehow or am I missing something? Is there a way to get the 3D printer silent while not overheating?


On behalf of advice in the comments, I mounted some heat sinks and measured the temperature via an IR-thermometer. With the old original stepper drivers I get 60 °C for the Y-axis and 66 °C for the X-axis. With TMC2100 it is 86 °C for both. (Each temperature measured at the heatsink)

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  • $\begingroup$ Did you mount the heatsinks? $\endgroup$ – Trish Mar 21 '19 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ There are a couple recent questions on stepper temperature. First thing: check the specs on your motors to see what temp range they are rated for. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 21 '19 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ I have also found the given TMC21000 settings too low. Measuring Vref current seems to be around 250mA and 500mA would be ideal. So your values seem appropriate. I am also getting mightyboard power-loss (resets?) soon after printing starts on the first layer. Any progress in the past year? $\endgroup$ – guru_florida Jul 24 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ @guru_florida I gave up on the Mightyboard. The printer is getting a trigorilla-board now. Mainly because I have this board and no other use for it at the moment. Maybe I will go for a Duet clone in the future. $\endgroup$ – user406482 Oct 30 at 15:54
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Most Stepper drivers will have lots of energy passing through them so it is crucial to having a moderately sized heatsink to cool them off otherwise they will get too hot. Most stepper drivers found online come with heatsinks but you could search online for mini heatsinks.

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    $\begingroup$ I also own a Anycubic Kossel Linear Plus (driven by TMC2130) and a Tevo little monster with duet board (driven by TMC2660). On both machines the stepper drivers do not get hotter than 40°C. So obviously silent stepping is possible without massive amounts of heat. $\endgroup$ – user406482 Apr 4 '19 at 7:30
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What constitutes too hot? A Hybrid stepper motor operating at 80 degrees is normal. They dissipate heat via their mounting plate (which should not be plastic), otherwise you may need to use active cooling. Now if the motors are dying from the heat then you have a problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ The mounting plate is plastic. Rather I would use the old loud stepper drivers instead of some (also noisy) active cooling fans. $\endgroup$ – user406482 Apr 4 '19 at 7:26

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