[mark] had an interesting idea when looking at all the wiring of a typical 3D printer; Use CAN Bus. There are a lot of wires going to the extruder assembly, and with most designs this thing is flying around at quite some speed. You’ve got connections for powering the heater, fan power, four wires for the extruder motor, thermistor sensor wires. You get the idea. Lots of wires. Worse, they’re all moving around with the axis, and if failures occur at either end due to poor strain relief, or the conductors themselves break, then all manner of interesting failures can occur. If the hot end thermistor connection goes open circuit, usually no damage occurs but the temperature control goes out the window and your print will fail.
Now if you push the electronics needed to drive and control the extruder, directly onto the moving body itself, and hook-up to the main printer electronics with CAN Bus, you can do the whole moving interconnect thing with a measly four wires. Yes, you need another PCB assembly, so it adds cost, but it does also simply the electronics at the control end, so some savings can be made. [mark] has used CAN Bus due its availability with modern microcontrollers and also its designed-in robustness, thanks to its automotive and industrial heritage. When you think about it, this is a rather obvious thing to do, and we’re not sure why we’ve not see it much before.
If you want to dig into the detail, the project GitHub has the schematics and code ready to go.