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  1. #1

    Anyone working on smart USB-C print head / cable replacement

    I've built several 3d printers and upgraded more. I hate the wiring to the print head. I want to replace it with a USB-C cable, I know that just putting the signals over the wires is not necessarily safe and the pinouts wouldn't work as is, so I'm looking at possibly designing a USB-C PD microcontroller with breakouts to hookup to printhead.
    I've done a little bit of research and I have designed enough boards to believe I can do it. The idea would be to first design a board that is small, will operate at '20' volts within USB standard, drive PWM to the print head, read the thermistor, have a socket (to start) for stepper motor, drive a bl-touch, see about getting that working and then design a second board to read everything from the motherboard and send the commands over USB-c data link.
    I am busy and think it will take me months if I don't get any side projects so I'm wondering if anyone else is already doing it.
    I would be doing everything opensource / github and be happy to have other contributors.
    Oh and my user name is ecobra because I built and raced an electric cobra Daytona like car from 2006 and have been doing electric vehicle consulting ever since.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    wow - sounfs like a great project.
    I have not one clue how to go about any of that - but would probably buy a setup like that and I can see companies like creality stealing it as soon as it went live.

    Were I you, I'd keep it totally closed source and once established it works - wither sell it myself or sell the setup for a decent chunk of change to a large company :-)

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    wow - sounfs like a great project.
    I have not one clue how to go about any of that - but would probably buy a setup like that and I can see companies like creality stealing it as soon as it went live.

    Were I you, I'd keep it totally closed source and once established it works - wither sell it myself or sell the setup for a decent chunk of change to a large company :-)
    One of my business partners agrees with you and has the free time for me to look into it. We will see. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    one thing to consider is whether it's worth going down the copyright/patent route or not.

    had a fascinating conversation with some lawyers at tct a year or so back.
    And basically they said that copyrights/patents are not always a cost effective route.

    You need to balance the amount of potential profit - factoring in manufacturing, admin, postage etc - against the cost of global copyrighting. And also bear in mind that, if it's any good, the chinese will steal it anyway.
    So you're either facing long and expensive court cases or just letting them do it, which could cost you just as much.

    Case in point - e3d - I honestly don't know of any of their products that hasn't been pirated and the pirate versions sell a LOT more than the proginals.
    But they've clearly decided that the legal route is not a battle worth fighting.

    Measure that against just selling the entire design to a larger company who can afford to copyright.
    Often that's a more profitable route.

    The other approach is to make the electronics too difficult to copy.
    Some kind of military grade encryption maybe.
    If it can't be copied - there's no need for patents and copyright as - it can't be copied :-)
    And also bear in mind that someone out there will most likely be able to copy it - no matter what you do.
    Or if you manage to get round that - then definitely patent the anti copying aspect as that would be worth an absolute fortune :-)

    But definitely an interesting project :-)
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 01-07-2021 at 07:22 AM.

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