How to Purchase Optical Design Software without Breaking the Bank
For companies looking to develop a lightguide solution entirely in-house, one of the largest expenses is optical design software. It is something you likely do not already have, and most businesses are often surprised at how pricey these programs are. Is there a way to avoid breaking the bank while buying optical design software? Is there a way to save money when designing custom lightguide solutions?
First start by considering if it is even worthwhile to purchase this software for in-house use, or if optical design should be left to a partner company. Custom lightguide manufacturers will already have access to the latest, most advanced software programs and other tools. Further, they have experience and know-how to use optical design software at its full potential and achieve the best, most fine-tuned results.
Custom lightguide manufacturers also know what types of designs will or will not work in practice, and how to work within design limits to produce a winning product. When working with such a company, optical design services can simply be included as part of their overall cost.
For those looking to purchase their own optical design software, here are three of the most popular options:
LightTools: LightTools is available at approximately $48,000 when fully equipped, including a permanent license. There is also an annual maintenance fee of approximately $7,000. In return, the software offers 3D optical engineering and design, an extensive source library, real-time ray tracing, and integration with Solidworks geometry. LightTools also offers a wide range of real-world simulations.
Optisworks: Optisworks costs approximately $12,000, plus a $2,300 annual fee. The benefit here is that Solidworks developed this optical simulation software and the two work together seamlessly. It offers a variety of simulations, along with concurrent opto-mechanical design.
OpticStudio: OpticStudio from Zemax is priced between $4,900 and $14,900 depending on its edition. One year of maintenance is included, but fees are tacked on after that. Features vary widely between editions, with the Premium edition offering the most functionality. It can also be utilized with LensMechanix from Zemax, allowing opto-mechanical capabilities.
In addition to the above, there is a free Google Chrome extension available, called Ray Optics Simulation. It offers a variety of simulations, while also allowing users to view real images, virtual images and virtual objects. This of course does not have the type of premium functionality that the above programs offer, or that a custom lightguide manufacturer is able to provide directly. Nevertheless, for those bootstrapping a product or looking to create an example or a mock-up, it could be a worthwhile avenue to explore.
Ultimately, for convenience, upfront cost reduction, quality and expertise, working with a reputable partner company is typically the most successful option. Global Lighting Technologies is a leader in developing custom lightguide solutions of all varieties and offers unmatched capabilities in optical design and development. Learn more by requesting a quote, or call us at 440.922.4585 with any questions.