Oct 12, 2020

Zemax OpticsBuilder Helps Organizations Avoid the Hidden Cost of CAD Time


Organizations typically approach the question of how expensive CAD time is with three variables: the labor, time, and talent. Time means how long does it take for a person to do the work; time also includes how much other engineers are spending to communicate and validate the CAD designs. Talent means, what is the skillset of the resource? This means balancing higher paying experience with lower cost inexperienced resources which is filled with hidden costs, driving unnecessary project expenses, and limiting the team’s performance.   Unfortunately, this is the extent of what most organizations consider when calculating the cost of CAD time, but it is far more complex. 

There are other variables that need consideration:

The first variable is errors. Whether it is outsourced or done in-house, a good portion of CAD work is manual and tedious. Whenever an organization has numerous project hand-offs, errors can occur, things get lost, overlooked, or just simply misunderstood. Errors require additional back and forth communication and if they go unnoticed long enough, it can require complete product reworks.

The second variable is security. Current methods for handing optical designs to CAD users are extremely personalized to the needs of the organization. There really is not an established best practice. This often means design files with intellectual property are exported into files like Word documents, PDFs, or step files and shared over open communication lines like email, chat apps, or over the phone. Any process that shares easily readable intellectual property over common communication channels means the possibility of the information hacked or shared outside of the intended audience. Unsecure practices like this can cause a ripple of cascading expenses throughout the organization if not tightened up.

The last variable is communication, which is one of the costliest. Organizations do not consider the amount of back and forth communication required to get optical designs appropriately transferred into the CAD platform. Most customers we have talked to require their optical engineer to instruct the CAD user on the finer details while also needing to be open for back and forth questions throughout the design process. Optical engineers are also expected to help with validating the mechanical packaging, as well as providing details for the finalized production drawings. This is one of the most important and expensive variables because it involves more than just the CAD user. Whenever you involve an optical engineer, there is an additional cost of lost innovation time because the optical engineer needs to help the CAD user import, analyze, or export a design. The cost to the company is velocity to market and lost innovation time as optical engineer’s often handhold the CAD users throughout their design process.

      Staying on Budget starts with the proper tools

      Understanding the variables of the cost of CAD time is the first step to solving the problem.  The next step is knowing what to do about it. Over the last few years, Zemax has explored this challenge with customers across the optics industry.

      Based on the real challenges facing our customers today, we developed OpticsBuilder. Our software allows CAD users to directly convert complete optical designs from OpticStudio into CAD software like SOLIDWORKS and Creo Parametric, analyze how their packaging impacts optical performance, and export optical drawings to manufacturing. With OpticsBuilder, it allows the optical engineer to send all the needed data with the OpticStudio design in one single file. This is especially useful in today's world where a lot of employees are working remotely. By automatically converting and building optical design files within their native CAD tool customers have turned workflows that used to take hours into seconds.

      With the ZBD file, users can send everything needed for handoff to the optical product design team in one file. You can automate the sharing of data for design work between all team members, which saves time, reduces human errors, and keeps everything pertinent to the design in one place. And you can send the non-sequential file back to the optical engineer with CAD parts included for further optical performance analysis.

      OpticsBuilder provides an industry exclusive Optomechanical packaging analysis that shows CAD users how their assemblies impact the optical performance. This is helping CAD users shave hours off their production times.

      With the simulation in OpticsBuilder, it is not just ray tracing. It is an automated setup for the user, so the CAD user doesn't have to think about setting up all the variables for the ray trace. The information is ported over directly from OpticStudio with the ZBD file. So, what we have here is more of an automatic work versus a manual work. We are automating it because we are taking advantage of those CAD tools. OpticsBuilder enables CAD users to share ISO compliant, finished designs with a push of a button using an automatic design export tool. Users can quickly create standard manufacturing drawings by easily generating an ISO 10110 optical drawing. You can also save time by automatically filling in your optical data into the manufacturing parameters of the drawing, and that data is pulled directly from OpticStudio.

      With the proper tool, managers can eliminate hidden CAD expenses while also improving the performance of their optical design team. 

      Ready to learn more? Contact your account manager and get a demo of OpticsBuilder today!