The well-known salt said to give “that extra something” makes up less than 0.5% of the daily food consumption. Nevertheless, these few grams are, in case of doubt, one reason why the performance of the kitchen crew is judged to be outstanding or mediocre. Just as with salt, many technical installations, machines and systems contain small, possibly quickly overlooked components that are critical to the performance of the entire system. In order to enable the user to increase the performance or to use the machine more efficiently, it makes sense to identify such potentially limiting components in an analysis of the overall system and to optimise them in a bespoke manner.

Machines in the paper and printing industry are highly complex systems that are characterised by a balancing act between high throughput and extreme precision. Despite the increasing use of mechatronic systems, proven and robust kinematic couplings are often imposed in such machines at critical points. However, these advantages are usually gained at the expense of noticeable limitations in the case of a desired increase in machine performance.

Within a project we analysed and optimised a classic rolling lever vs. cam disk system together with our customer from the field of mechanical and plant engineering. In this system, a preloaded lever rotates around a cam disc and thus engages at defined angular positions. However, when the rotational speed was increased, the rolling lever could no longer precisely follow the cam profile of the cam disc.

With the help of a detailed analysis of the physical system behaviour as well as a targeted use of optimisation software, a performance-enhanced version of the rolling lever was developed. By switching from steel to aluminium with simultaneous simulation-driven redesign of the component, we were able to reduce the rotational moment of inertia around the axis of rotation by almost 50%, which allows a speed and thus throughput increase of approx. 25% of the entire machine. This advantage can be directly passed on to the customer, since the production technology and thus the component costs for the optimised lever have remained almost the same.

This example shows how a systematic approach as well as the consistent implementation of proven lightweight design methods and the innovative use of standard software can lead to significant improvements even with established systems and materials. Our aim is to find, analyze and implement these optimisation possibilities for the benefit of our customers. Please feel free to contact us.


Development and topology optimisation of the roller lever: From the reference steel component (black) to the aluminum design (blue) with 50% reduced rotational inertia moment