While not a necessity to be able to enjoy 3D printing and obtain high-quality 3D printed models, it’s undeniable that familiarizing yourself with the technical parts of the process in terms of both software and hardware goes a long way in performing optimizations that makes for a smoother 3D printing experience.
The primary reason for technical familiarity coming in extremely handy is the customizability potential of a 3D printer on both the fronts of software and hardware, as such knowledge gives you the freedom to upgrade or replace the parts of the 3D printer that are not performing as well as you like.
In today’s article, we will be diving into one of the hardware-related technical areas of 3D printing and analyze two of the widely talked about stepper drivers, the TMC2208 and the TMC2209, (which are the components responsible for controlling the stepper motors of the extruder) that many 3D printing enthusiasts are looking to add to their 3D printer.
So, what are the differences between the TMC2208 and TMC2209 stepper motor drivers?
While the TMC2208 and the TMC2209 are pretty similar, the most noticeable difference is that the TMC2209 stepper driver comes with extra features called CoolStep and StallGuard, which allow it to use energy more efficiently, generate less heat, and make sensorless homing possible.
Next up, we will examine the differences between TMC2208 and TMC2209 stepper drivers, find out how to make the correct choice between the two, and look at the compatibility between these stepper drivers and some of the other popular drivers such as the A4988 and the DRV8825.
What Are the Differences Between TMC2208 and TMC2209?
TMC2208 and TMC2209 are two of the popular stepper drivers manufactured originally by Trinamic, and while they belong to the same series (as apparent from their names), there are significant differences between them.
The main benefit that the TMC2209 stepper driver offers over the TMC2208 is the addition of Trinamic’s CoolStep and StallGuard technologies, which is a considerable difference, to begin with, considering the improvements that these technologies bring to the table.
In a nutshell, the StallGuard technology brings the capability of sensorless homing to the TMC2209, making it possible to axes to home without the necessity for physical endstops that would otherwise be required for the 3D printer to know the bounds of the build area.
On the other hand, the CoolStep technology allows the TMC2209 to control the current dynamically, creating a scenario where the current delivered to the motor is always the minimum possible value for the motor to operate optimally. As a result, the energy consumption of the driver goes down, reducing the heat generation of the stepper, which in turn diminishes the need for cooling.
Aside from the above features, it’s also possible to find slight differences in the RDSon (drain-source on resistance) and the motor phase current values between the TMC2208 and TMC2209.
While the TMC2208 has an RDSon value of 0.3 Ohm and a phase current value (RMS) of 1.2A, the TMC2209 comes with an RDSon value of 0.2 Ohm and a phase current (RMS) of 1.7A.
The lower RDSon value of the TMC2209 makes it more energy efficient (less power lost across the MOSFET) than the TMC2208, and the higher phase current (RMS) allows it to feed more current to the stepper motor.
Should You Use the TMC2208 or the TMC2209 Stepper Drivers?
Making the correct choice between the TMC2208 and the TMC2209 can be challenging if you are in the market for a stepper driver replacement for your 3D printer, especially if you aren’t too familiar with stepper drivers in general.
As the TMC2209 stepper drivers are a direct upgrade to the TMC2208 stepper drivers with the many features they add, there is no reason not to prefer the TMC2209 whenever you have the option, especially considering the price difference between these two stepper drivers is negligible.
While the upgrade may not be worth it if you already own and are using TMC2208 drivers without any problems right now, we highly recommend first-time buyers always choose a mainboard that comes with Trinamic’s upgraded TMC2209 drivers rather than the TMC2208.
Are Both TMC2208 and TMC2209 Interchangeable with A4988?
While the Allegro A4988 is another standard and reliable stepper driver that you can frequently stumble upon in the 3D printing world, the fact that it can get pretty loud prompts many 3D printing enthusiasts to look at more silent options, such as the TMC2208 and the TMC2209.
Both TMC2208 and TMC2209 are pin-compatible with Allegro’s popular A4988 stepper driver, meaning that you can replace any A4988 that you’re currently using with a TMC2208 or a TMC2209 as an upgrade that will provide better performance.
For a better grasp of conducting the replacement process, we highly recommend referring to Trinamic’s documentation, where it’s possible to find vital information such as the pin comparison and the schematics of these two stepper drivers.
Are Both TMC2208 and TMC2209 Interchangeable with DRV8825?
Similar to the A4988, it’s also possible to find the DRV8825 stepper drivers in 3D printers, and as these drivers are also considered inferior compared to the TMC2208 and TMC2209, there is no surprise that there are enthusiasts who are looking to make a switch.
Trinamic’s TMC2209 and TMC2208 are both pin-compatible with the DRV8825, allowing you to replace any DRV8825 that you’re currently using with a TMC2209 or a TMC2208 without any problems if you desire.
We highly recommend carefully inspecting the datasheets for both the TMC2209/TMC2208 and the DRV8825 before diving into the replacement process to avoid facing problems down the road, as mistakes can cause damage to the stepper driver and even the mainboard or the stepper motors.
While the TMC2208 and TMC2209 are stepper drivers that belong to the same product line, there are some vital differences between the two that you should consider before deciding on the one you will be installing to your 3D printer.
To quickly recap, Trinamic’s TMC2209 is a direct upgrade over the TMC2008 with slight changes and new technologies that increase the maximum phase current, bring the feature of sensorless homing, and reduce energy consumption (which helps the driver generate less heat and run cooler).
Considering that the prices of the TMC2209 and the TMC2208 are almost identical, we would highly recommend choosing the TMC2209 whenever possible for better performance.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.