Generative Design Meets Traditional Manufacturing: The Claudius Peters Story
For 113 years, German manufacturing company Claudius Peters has been a leader in the heaviest of heavy industry—creating, delivering, and installing large-scale industrial machinery all over the world. Their clinker cooler is just one example of what they make: it’s a massive machine half the length of a football field used to cool molten rock (or “clinker”) fresh from the kiln to make cement.
And while Claudius Peters carries a long legacy as a traditional manufacturer, they are actively embracing new digital technologies and new approaches to making to become more sustainable and avoid being disrupted by younger competitors. One example: Chief Digital Officer and Operations Director Thomas Nagel and his team have partnered with Autodesk to reinvent parts of the clinker cooler using generative design.
“Digital transformation is not a project; it’s an inner attitude. The questions of today and tomorrow will not be solved by the knowledge and experience of yesterday.” —Thomas Nagel, Chief Digital Officer, Claudius Peters
After just one generative design session, the team created a new design for an important component that was 30-40% lighter than the previous one their design department had optimized themselves. What’s more, because additive manufacturing is not yet a viable option for a part like this, they were able to enter constraints so that it could be manufactured using traditional subtractive methods, proving that generative design can be a useful tool in a range of industries.
The success of this first experiment has inspired the company to use generative design as a standard for examining and optimizing all existing parts, as well as designing new ones. And generative design is just the beginning—they’re also embracing reality capture, cloud-based collaboration, and simulation tools like FEM analysis. With each effort, they’re creating parts that are more efficient and cost effective, while also easier to transport.
Dr. Markus Fricke was inspired at AU a few years ago when he heard the Dreamcatcher team discuss generative design. When he returned to Germany, he couldn’t stop thinking about how the technology could help his team at BMW. Eventually he convinced his team to try GD on a new motorcycle (video: 30:46 min.).