Editor’s Pick: Design and Analyze Illumination Optical Systems

LightTools' new Tolerance Manager helps predict illumination system manufacturability.

Synopsys has released version 8.6 of LightTools, its 3D design software suite for modeling, analyzing and optimizing illumination optics. LightTools 8.6 sees its free-form illumination modeling capabilities extended with new sources for evaluation including spheres and ray file sources. Image courtesy of Synopsys Inc.

Tony LockwoodDear DE Reader:

Like Rodney Dangerfield, man-made lighting gets no respect. If the lighting is bad, people gripe. If it's well done, few notice. But all those new types of lamps and luminaries in all sorts of shapes, sizes and for innumerable intended uses make modeling, analyzing and optimizing illumination optics a design feat. LightTools from Synopsys is engineered to help you get it right even if only your honchos and clients notice.

LightTools version 8.6 is just out. Now, the nickel tour is that LightTools is a 3D optical engineering and design system. It supports virtual prototyping, simulation, optimization and photorealistic rendering. You build your solution around a core module that has the 3D solid modeling functionality for creating and visualizing optical and opto-mechanical systems. It has the tools and libraries to get you going.

The optional modules include illumination simulations, optimizations, advanced physics, bidirectional CAD translators and so on. There's even a direct link module for parametric interoperability between LightTools models and SOLIDWORKS. You get the idea. LightTools is professional-level. It's also fascinating stuff.

That professional focus is apparent in LightTools 8.6. Chief among its enhancements is a new Tolerance Manager feature. This should be of particular interest if you design illumination gear requiring precision manufacturing like LED-based light guides, LiDAR (light detection and ranging) systems and illumination components in imaging systems.

You can use the Tolerance Manager early in the design process to find potential problem areas. You can also use it to analyze systems already in production. Either way, it can help you predict the manufacturability of your illumination systems while also controlling manufacturing costs.

An intriguing attribute is that it has interactive tolerancing capabilities. What this does is let you tune tolerance limits and see how your changes affect things like illuminance distribution, color distribution, intensity distribution and power efficiency. It also has sensitivity analysis capabilities you can use to evaluate how sensitive a performance measure is to changes in tolerances. This should help you better understand which tolerances drive system performance.

Other notable v8.6 enhancements include the ability to create native NURBS and interpolated curves for swept light guides as well as new support for using measured ray data files in illumination designs. Current users will notice that there are more free-form design options too.

You can learn more about LightTools 8.6 from today's Editor's Pick of the Week write-up. Be certain to check out the applications gallery.

Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood, Editor at Large, DE

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About the Author

Anthony J. Lockwood's avatar
Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering’s founding editor. He is now retired. Contact him via [email protected].

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