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Basic optical modeling software

Basic optical modeling software

Basic optical modeling software

Please, be patient with me, this isn't my area of expertise!

I'm thinking I need to look at some optical design / modeling software. I would like to model the light transmission properties of various material systems I am experimenting with.

For example, I might wish to model the light dissipation through an aquarium, through a multi-layered window, through a greenhouse, etc. The materials are not too exotic, and I don't need insanely precise results.

However, it would be useful to input data and have a calculated % absorbance chart ranging from UV to infrared under ideal situations. This begins to get problematic by hand.

Moreover, It would be useful to take the varying angles of light and work out the adjusted light transmission, accounting for the refractive nature of the materials.

Is there any software out there that provides a not-overly-insane interface to working with modeling the optical properties of mechanical designs like this?

RE: Basic optical modeling software

My two cents would be to consider what you are trying to achieve with the software and how much you are willing to spend. My impression from your post is that you are looking more at light modeling software than optical design. Your selection will also depend somewhat on what you do with the data. Photo-realistic renderings will require additional software or an add-in.

If you have a CAD system, you might look into the Add-In packages available (like Optis for SolidWorks or Catia, etc). If you don't have CAD then a stand alone will work too (like ASAP, etc). Most lighting design softwares allow importing iges files from CAD so you don't have to limit yourself to an Add-In.

You will also need to consider the complexity of the software. You mention that this is not your area of expertise. The interface for OptisWorks Add-In or Optis Labs is pretty straight forward but the Optical Design programs will require that you know a great deal more about optics.

"Not-overly-insane" might be the biggest challenge of all! Best of luck.  

SW2009 SP1.0 OPW2009 SP0 Win XP Pro 2002 SP3
Dell 690, Xeon 5160 @3.00GHz, 3.25GB RAM
nVidia Quadro FX4600

RE: Basic optical modeling software


I noticed you posted in the plastics area looking for stress analysis software that might also be capable of some optical analysis. The only package I am aware of that has that capability is COMSOL. It is a multiphysics software platform that is very broad in application. I'd suggest visiting the website and/or watching a webinar.

Again, good luck.

SW2009 SP1.0 OPW2009 SP0 Win XP Pro 2002 SP3
Dell 690, Xeon 5160 @3.00GHz, 3.25GB RAM
nVidia Quadro FX4600

RE: Basic optical modeling software

I think TracePro, ZEMAX and many other optical software packages can easily handle this, if the material is just common ones as you mentioned.

The price of TracePro is hight.  So I think ZEMAX is good for this and many other applications.  You can either create your 3D geometry in ZEMAX or import from other CAD softwares, and assign optical properties to the material/surfaces.  

Even ZEMAX might be overkilling in this application, and I'm sure there are other cheaper solutions.  I'm just not aware of.


RE: Basic optical modeling software

If you have the funds available:

LightTools. is arguably one of the best software for optics/lighting out there, and is completely compatible with Solidworks, or Catia. it is easy to learn how to use and very powerful..

only draw back is the $16k/year price.

if those funds are not available, look at TracerPro. Although its interface with Solidworks is really bad, it gets the job done. If your in need for a quick reflector type tool.. ReflectorCad is cheap and quick.

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