Zemax has a new CAD add-in called LensMechanix. Are there any users out there that can comment on it? Reviews, etc?
Hey - sorry I missed this question but yes I have LensMechanix installed. My first suggestion is to go the Zemax website and get the demo so that you can draw your own conclusions. I tend to use the software in bursts where I am using it a lot then not at all. We are a consulting firm so my function can change from week to week.
The add-in is definitely geared toward the optomechanical designer or engineer that needs to work with an optical engineer using Zemax OS. It will allow you to import the Zemax files directly and then the software will build the optical components for you. The optical sources and component properties are included so that when you have built the assembly model you can run a ray trace to confirm the performance has not been changed. The assembly can also be exported back to Zemax for the OE to run which is very helpful if you have any issues. The software will allow you to create components and place them in a system but you cannot run an optimization.
To the best of my knowledge the Zemax LensMechanix product manager will be at SWW2017.
FYI - Just happened to see they have Gold Partner status now too.
I haven't used LensMechanix, but I use Zemax Pro daily as a lens design consultant. Nearly everything I design gets exported to CAD for the mount designers, usually with rays. That's fairly quick and effortless, so I'm also trying to understand what capabilities are added with LensMechanix (at $5600/yr). If you have any questions about what Zemax users can and can't do with CAD files, I can help with that.
Donna - You might contact Andy Ferris at Zemax. He's the product manager for LensMechanix and would be able to tell you the benefits of adding the package for your Optomechanical designers. Here's a link to his SW forum profile: Andy Ferris
For our purposes, there's never been any need for additional software.
LensMechanix was designed specifically with mechanical engineers, and optomechanical engineers in mind to compliment OpticStudio (formerly known as Zemax) within an organization. If you are using OpticStudio Professional, you certainly may not have a lot of use for LensMechanix.
However, the mount designers you mentioned will see it as a valuable tool. The process you alluded to is a fairly linear design process where optical engineers create optical designs, then hand them off as STEP, IGES or STL files to mechanical engineers to create the mechanical system. STEP, IGES, or STL files and ray bundles are fairly limited in their ability to convey design intent, and can cause a lot of problems for mechanical engineers working with optical designs. Those file types are static, visual approximations of optical components, without any detailed dimensions, materials, coatings, tolerances, or other relevant information that a mechanical engineer might need to make an effective mount design. Additionally, if mechanical engineers don't have an easy way to collaborate with optical engineers about their mechanical designs, they are likely to create problems that can only be found after prototyping.
LensMechanix allows mechanical engineers and optical engineers to collaborate and validate complete designs before anything is prototyped. LensMechanix will bring all the relevant information that an optical engineer has designed in OpticStudio, including sources and detectors, into SolidWorks as native geometry. In addition to preserving the design fidelity, mechanical engineers can easily run ray traces inside of SolidWorks to check their own work and make sure they haven't introduced problems such as vignetting, stray light, or ghost imaging. LensMechanix can also bring the optical tolerance data created in OpticStudio into SolidWorks so that the mechanical engineer can use the positional tolerance data to create more effective mechanical designs that will actually meet specifications. Finally, LensMechanix can create a .zar file that will include all optical and mechanical components so that an OpticStudio engineer can easily open, modify and validate the complete design without worrying about global coordinate systems. This allow mechanical engineers and optical engineers to create high quality virtual prototypes of complete optical products without incurring the large costs and time delays of physical prototypes.
If you or your colleagues have any questions, concerns, or feedback about LensMechanix, I would be happy to answer them. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking to speak to industry experts such as yourself that can help us grow and improve the product.
Thanks for your detailed reply! Personally, we've had good correspondence between engineers working on our projects and a reasonable process, so really no need for this add-on. In addition to STEP file export, I provide the mechanical designers with a table of element positioning tolerances and copies of the toleranced ISO element drawings that I send to the lens fabricators. With that, they have the detailed dimensions, materials, coatings, tolerances, etc. that you noted. If the lens fabricator gets a revised drawing from me, so does the mechanical designer. That's been working great for us!
Probably worth adding that Zemax CAD export precision can be set as tight as 1 angstrom, with up to 512 spline segments.
That is true, the CAD export function from OpticStudio can provide high resolution STEP files. Unfortunately, no process that involves exporting STEP, IGES, or STL files and printed drawings allow mechanical engineers to validate their designs without building expensive prototypes. The process to move complete assemblies back into OpticStudio without LensMechanix is time consuming and cumbersome, so most organizations simply don't do it. That leaves mechanical engineers to rely on static ray bundles, and "rules of thumb". Without the ability to simulate the optical performance of a complete system in software, organizations waste thousands of dollars and weeks of project cycles waiting on physical prototypes that often times have simple design errors that introduce vignetting, stray light, or other fundamental performance problems.
That's the true value of LensMechanix: the ability to validate complete designs in software cutting down project expenses and speeding up development cycles. Our current users have reported reductions in product development cycles of over 50% by eliminating prototype cycles and repeated product redesigns.
I don't want to pretend to know how your development process works and claim that LensMechanix will solve all of your problems. It certainly will not solve all of your problems, and it may not be right for your specific situation. But I do want to be clear that the old method of exporting STEP, IGES, or STL files in a linear design process has significant drawbacks. Since Zemax introduced the CAD export tool nearly 20 years ago, organizations have simply learned to live with the financial costs and account for the added time in project estimates because there wasn't a better way to do it. LensMechanix is the next step for companies that increasingly relying on software for their design process.
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