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Case Study

LightPath Designs Aspheric Lenses with Help from Ansys OpticStudio

LightPath creates high-quality, high-performing compact imaging designs that fit within thinner and lighter housings quickly and cost effectively. As a vertically integrated business that fuses world-class design and innovative lens fabrication with low-cost manufacturing, LightPath produces a diverse number and range of sophisticated products and solutions within tight time frames. For Optical Engineering Manager Jeremy Huddleston and his team, designing for manufacturability is key to their success, and Ansys OpticStudio is an essential tool in getting there.


Challenges

LightPath uses aspheric optics (smoother and flatter lens applications) for many of their flagship products to meet customer mandates for quality and cost within a given set of constraints. Aspheric lenses simplify and shrink optical systems by replacing several conventional lenses to deliver optimal performance. However, designing for aspherics is tremendously complex due to a larger number of design options when compared to traditional spherical designs, so many businesses avoid them because they can be expensive to machine.

Engineering Solution

Optimization is crucial in creating lens designs that overcome limitations and deliver the highest manufacturing yield. LightPath designers looked to OpticStudio to create aspheric designs for manufacturability with relative ease. Using state-of-the-art optimization tools in OpticStudio, Huddleston’s team vastly improved the performance of their optical designs based on user-defined constraints and design goals.The software enabled local and global optimization, hammer optimization (which allows you to look for other design solutions outside the local space you’re in), and sometimes even contrast optimization. With OpticStudio, the team could optimize on spot size, wavefront, or directly on modulation transfer function (MTF) — or the optical performance potential of the lens — to achieve their goals.Thanks to OpticStudio, LightPath could also write custom merit functions to circumvent poor convergence in their design iterations and support direct optimization based on a designer’s intuition and expertise, rather than relying on the software exclusively to dictate design.

Benefits

  • OpticStudio’s optimization toolbox offers multiple ways to optimize, making it easy to use different techniques at different points in the process so designers could work in the most efficient way possible. This ensures quality while cutting costs and time to market.
  •  Designers could optimize not only performance, but also manufacturability. Using merit function operands, macros, and optimization tools helped them to put more defined parameters around manufacturability.
  •  The Zemax Programming Language (ZPL) in OpticStudio enabled designers to write their own macros to automate repetitive processes and realize significant time savings.
  • Writing a macro and working with a merit function to determine the best method for measuring lens parameters, then optimizing on that method as opposed to paraxial approximations, ensured that all lenses achieved the same values as those in the optical design.
  •  OpticStudio simplified LightPath’s adoption of a new infrared-transmission material BD6 chalcogenide glass in their thermal lenses, enabling the addition of custom materials instead of being limited to the library of materials provided with the software.
  • OpticStudio helped designers overcome chromatic aberration, a problem that can occur with BD6 that can degrade imaging quality. Using the software, LightPath could apply a diffractive surface for color correction.

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