Jul 21, 2022

New OpticsBuilder Licensing and Installation Guide

Category: Product News

OpticsBuilder uses a shared network license installed on a keyserver to manage license access. License Administrators install the Zemax License Manager and OpticsBuilder license on the keyserver and assign licenses to End Users on Zemax.com. End Users install the OpticsBuilder software to access licenses on any computer in the keyserver network.

In single user situations, the keyserver can be on the same computer as OpticsBuilder.

After reading this article administrators and users of OpticsBuilder will have a clear understanding of the process for installation and licensing of OpticsBuilder along with approaches to mitigate problems encountered along the way.

If you are the license administrator and have received an OpticsBuilder activation code, start at OpticsBuilder License installation.

If you have received an email notice that you have been assigned an OpticsBuilder license but NOT an activation code, move to the End User OpticsBuilder installation section to install OpticsBuilder on your client machine.

OpticsBuilder software support

OpticsBuilder is an add-in that supports Creo versions 4, 5, 6 and 

Windows support

OpticsBuilder and the Zemax License Manager for license server configuration supports 64-bit versions of Windows 7 SP1, 8.1, and 10. Windows Server 2012 64-bit or newer is also supported. Windows 7 no longer receives product support from Microsoft, or PTC as of January 2020.

This blog post explains the installation and licensing process for OpticsBuilder. OpticsBuilder uses the Zemax License Manager to manage access to License Administrators and End Users. Installation of the Zemax License Manager and OpticsBuilder software is discussed, as well as troubleshooting issues an End User could encounter. The Zemax Setup Troubleshooter tool is introduced as a new tool to analyze an End User computer and highlight installation and licensing issues.

OpticsBuilder License installation


Before beginning installation, there are some preliminary actions you need to take. The License Administrator of OpticsBuilder will receive an email with license activation information and an email invitation to complete registration of a Zemax account. The License Administrator will also need to add End Users to the OpticsBuilder license.

A Zemax account gives all users:

  • Access to software downloads

  • The ability to submit support cases

  • Access to the user forum

  • Access to Knowledgebase articles

First steps – License Administrator

OpticsBuilder is sold as a multi-user or shared network license. The License Administrator for a license is responsible for managing license access via End Users on Zemax.com. The first steps for License Administrators to manage licenses are:

Receive licensing email with license number and activation code.

Receive Zemax.com invitation email, and complete registration on Zemax.com. If you did not receive a Zemax.com invitation, you may already have an account. You can request a password reset from the Log In page on Zemax.com

Add End Users as Colleagues on Zemax.com. Assign Colleagues as End Users of the new license. See the How do I add an end user to a license? for help adding Colleagues and assigning End Users

Be sure to complete all 3 steps above before proceeding!

Installation scenarios

There are two scenarios for network use of OpticsBuilder licenses. The activation process requires Internet access. 

Network server activation

Most installations will install Zemax License Manager (ZLM) located on a server machine accessible to the company network. This scenario uses a server machine to activate and manage the license for client machines. This approach only requires a Windows machine to install the Zemax License Manager on. It does not require a CAD package such as Creo.


  1. If an organization has any other Zemax software network licenses such as OpticStudio on an existing server, they likely have a version of the Zemax License Manager (ZLM) installed. However, any ZLM with a build date before January 2020 must be updated before activating the OpticsBuilder license. This new ZLM can be downloaded and installed from the OpticsBuilder Downloads page. You may upgrade the existing ZLM version to the newest upon installation. 

  2. After installing the ZLM, activate the license. Note that the activation process requires Internet access. The License Administrator enters the license number, activation code, and their Zemax account information into the ZLM "New License" tab as shown below. 

  1. After activation, the ZLM will show available licenses for OpticsBuilder in the View License tab. The License Administrator should verify that the correct product name, expiration date and number of license seats are displayed.

    This is a good time to read the Zemax License Policies page, with details on how the licensing works, license backup, avoiding license loss, and the lost license policy. 

  1. If they haven't done so already, the License Administrator should login to Zemax.com and add End Users to the license. 

  2. At this point, your End Users can install OpticsBuilder on their client machines, per the End User OpticsBuilder Installation section. 

Local license activation

Some users may choose to have a 1 seat network license installed locally on their machine rather than install it on a server and have client machine use the license on the server. The general steps for local license users to manage licenses are:

  • Receive licensing email with license number, activation code and Opticsbuilder download link 

  • Complete registration with Zemax.com

  • Download and install OpticsBuilder. OpticsBuilder requires Creo versions 4, 5, 6 or or later. You also need administrator rights for a successful installation. 

  • Activate license. Note that the activation process requires Internet access. 

  • You must be listed as an "end user" of the license in your Zemax account to be authorized to activate.

  1. Download OpticsBuilder and launch the installer.   

  2. After successful installation of OpticsBuilder, the Zemax License Manager (ZLM) will open the New License page. Activate the OpticsBuilder license by entering the license number, activation key and your Zemax account information.

    If you receive any activation errors, see this article for help.

  1. After license activation in the ZLM, you should see a single seat of OpticsBuilder available for use.

    Tip: This is a good time to read the Zemax License Policies page, with details on how the licensing works, license backup, avoiding license loss, and the lost license policy. 

  2. You may then exit the ZLM, and move to Activating OpticsBuilder in your CAD package.

End User OpticsBuilder installation

This section applies to those trying to use an OpticsBuilder license that is installed on a network server. After the License Administrator adds End Users to Zemax.com and assigns the license to them, the End Users will receive:

  • An email invitation to register on Zemax.com (if not already registered)

  • A license assignment notification email

  1. After receiving the above the end user can download and install OpticsBuilder from the OpticsBuilder Downloads page.

    TIP: OpticsBuilder requires Creo versions 4, 5, 6 or or later. You also need administrator rights for a successful installation. 

  1. Follow the steps in the installation routine. At the end of installation, the Zemax License Manager will automatically open. Open the "View License" tab. 
    • If you do see an OpticsBuilder license, you may close the Zemax License Manager and launch your Creo. You will be prompted to enter the Zemax account username (email address) and password to use the OpticsBuilder license. Move to Activating OpticsBuilder in your CAD package.

    • If you do not see an Opticsbuilder license, you may need to specify the server name where the license is located. See the "What to do if the license is not found section of How to configure the keyserver and clients for Zemax Network licenses.

    • When launching OpticsBuilder on Creo Parametric and later you will get the following warning message, please go ahead and check the Remember this Decision Checkbox.

      The reason being that the Creo Parametric TOOLKIT applications are checking the OpticsBuilder DLL.

    • If you get an error such as "Unable to start OpticsBuilder. Would you like to run the Zemax Troubleshooter?" when starting your CAD package, see the Troubleshooting licenses section below. 

Activating OpticsBuilder in your CAD package

This is how to ensure that the OpticsBuilder add-in is activated in your CAD package.

To activate OpticsBuilder in Creo for a single session:

  1. Go to Tool...Utilities...Auxilliary Applications

  2. Highlight OpticsBuilder

  3. Select Register

  4. Navigate to C:Program Files\OpticsBuilder

  5. Select Opticsbuilder.dat to register OpticsBuilder

  6. Select Start to start the OpticsBuilder add-in in Auxiliary Applications

If you get the error "Unable to start OpticsBuilder. Would you like to run the Zemax Troubleshooter?" when starting your CAD package, see the Troubleshooting section below. 

OpticsBuilder should load within 20 seconds and copy some files to your Documents folder the first time it is opened. 

To register OpticsBuilder in Creo automatically at the start of every session:

  1. Open Notepad as administrator

  2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\PTC\Creo 5.0\M020\Common Files\text (or similar location for your version of Creo)

  3. In the file type dropdown, change the file type from Text Documents to All Files

  4. Scroll down to config.pro and open the file

  5. At the end of the text file, copy and paste the following line (modify path for your version of OpticsBuilder): PROTKDAT C:\Program Files\OpticsBuilder\OpticsBuilder.dat

If you get the error "Unable to start OpticsBuilder. Would you like to run the Zemax Troubleshooter?" when starting your CAD package, see the Troubleshooting section below. 

Troubleshooting Unable to Start OpticsBuilder error

The file hash is showing file errors. What do I do?

The bottom of the Zemax Setup Troubleshooter shows file hash information about files in the OpticsBuilder installation directory. Scanning file hashes ensures that all required OpticsBuilder files are present and correct. If errors are shown for file hashes, this indicates critical files are missing from the installation and the user should send an email to OpticsBuilder support.

Creo Parametric

If OpticsBuilder will not start on Creo or later, please refer to this article to ensure proper installation

OpticsBuilder licensing FAQ

Can OpticsBuilder client machine be used offline if the license is installed on a keyserver?

Yes. End Users of a network license initially need internet since they need to login to Zemax. There is also the option to check out a license seat from a license server for offline use. To do so, click Check Out in the Zemax License Manager.

A checked-out license seat for OpticsBuilder will be available offline for the number of days specified by the network License Administrator on the server. 

Note that License check out is disabled by default. Instructions for license administrators to enable license check out on the license keyserver can be found here.

Can OpticsBuilder be installed offline?

No, this product requires online activation. However, after activation the license can be used offline. 

How do I manage and log the license server usage for shared licenses?

The Sentinel Admin Control Center (SACC) is the administration interface used by the ZLM on a license server to manage server configuration settings, access logging, and view detailed license information for OpticsBuilder.

The SACC may be accessed by clicking the Launch Sentinel Admin Control Center link on the Troubleshoot page in the Zemax License Manager. This opens the graphical interface for SACC. More information on using the Sentinel Admin Control Center on a key server can be found here.

For more information about OpticsBuilder licensing and installation visit the Zemax Community.

Interesting in training? Check out our new OpticsBuilder training course “Designing Optomechanical Systems with Zemax OpticsBuilder

This course contains all the learning steps to understand the tools which a CAD users needs to prepare and convert an optical system from Zemax OpticStudio to the CAD Environment and analyse the optical performance with the vast range of the Zemax OpticsBuilder features.

Learning Ojectives:

  • Learn the basic concepts of optics required to package, analyze, and validate optomechanical systems.

  • Learn how the Zemax ray trace engine calculates and measures optical performance and how to apply the conversion workflow from Zemax OpticStudio to the CAD environment with the OpticsBuilder add-in.

  • Understand how to use the vast variety of OpticsBuilder tools on a use-case example.

  • Learn how to use the optical drawings feature of OpticsBuilder.

Register today!

Try OpticsBuilder capabilities for yourself, request a free trial today!