October 17, 2017

Global Surgical cuts product development time with Zemax Virtual Prototyping

Streamlined workflows produce a successful physical prototype months ahead of schedule

Global Surgical cuts product development time with Zemax Virtual Prototyping

Microscopes are an indispensable tool in the medical field for diagnostics, treatment, and surgery applications. Global Surgical Corporation's A-Series dental microscope, unveiled in 2015, raised the bar for the industry with superior ergonomics, maneuverability, and stability.

The design challenge: improving a pupil eyepiece

In mid-2016, Global Surgical set out to redesign a set of symmetric eyepieces for the A-Series microscope. Their goals were to increase the field of view and enhance usability, while maintaining or reducing production costs. To achieve the desired result, the size of the optics increased, leaving less space for mechanics.

Ergonomic fit and comfort were the usability priorities. “Eyepieces can be uncomfortable, especially for people who wear glasses. We needed an always fits solution, something straightforward and inviting,” said Robert Mentzer, optical engineer and project lead. Robert was joined on the project by mechanical engineer Tim Stiefferman, who explained, “Improving usability meant simplifying the mechanical operation for our users, to create something that doesn’t interrupt or distract from their work.”

Designing such an optomechanical system poses a big challenge. Small errors in the optomechanical design can cause serious optical performance issues. Careful tolerancing of the optical and mechanical components was essential for success. Mentzer and Stiefferman had to weigh the tradeoff between the product’s performance and the increased costs of using tighter tolerances to achieve the desired outcomes.  

Getting to a high-confidence design quicker with the right design environments

For years, optical and mechanical engineers have struggled to collaborate due to incompatibility between optical design and mechanical computer-aided design (CAD) software. The old methodology involved importing and exporting files, manually reconstructing geometry, and approximating the light path using a small sample of rays.  

Instead of relying on this outdated workflow, Mentzer created the optical model for the eyepieces in OpticStudio. He then sent the design file to Stiefferman, who loaded it into LensMechanix.

Mentzer and Stiefferman passed the design between OpticStudio and SOLIDWORKS without losing critical design data. “The communication piece with the mechanical engineer became much easier,” said Mentzer. “It let me stay on an optics bench and in OpticStudio, and it let Tim stay in SOLIDWORKS with LensMechanix and on his CNC machine.”

LensMechanix changed the game

Based on the accurate design and accelerated schedule achieved on the A-Series eyepiece project, Global Surgical is using OpticStudio and LensMechanix to design future optical systems.

“Not only did the project come in early, the things that prototypes are normally criticized for were absent. The first physical prototype was a big success. The final product we ship in a few months won’t vary much from that first prototype. OpticStudio and LensMechanix will be the standard way we execute projects from now on,” said Mentzer.

“LensMechanix is going to help us give our customers better products faster, and drive growth for Global Surgical. We’ve just scratched the surface of what it can do,” said Stiefferman.

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