Optimize Your Design for Manufacturing With LightTools

Optical Solutions Editorial Team

Oct 30, 2023 / 5 min read

Want To Save Time Designing a Non-Imaging System? LightTools Has Everything You Need to Optimize Your Design for Manufacturing

LightTools offers a complete optimization solution for non-imaging systems. In this article, we’ll outline LightTools’ optimization capabilities, including specialized features to help you quickly design applications such as backlights, light guides, and freeform optics.

LightTools Optimization Module: Quickly Get the Design that Best Meets Your Goals

The LightTools Optimization Module automatically improves the performance of any type of illumination system and gives designers tremendous flexibility to choose from hundreds of system parameters to designate as variables, constraints, and performance criteria to achieve the desired system performance. What’s more, the module is fast: its algorithms produce fast convergence results to increase your optimization solution success rate and significantly shorten design cycles.

LightTools optimization of a backlit display | Synopsys

LightTools optimization of a backlit display

Full integration with the LightTools 3D solid modeling environment ensures that the Optimization Module delivers practical, realistic solutions to help you create the design that best meets your unique project goals and requirements.

Built-in merit functions support the optimization of many common illumination applications and speed the optimization process. For example, the Focus Merit Function facilitates the optimization of optical system illuminance at a specified receiver location, and the Mesh Merit Function makes it easy to obtain a desired light distribution.

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Better Together: Using Optimization with Parameter Analyzer

The LightTools Parameter Sensitivity Analyzer provides Design of Experiments functionality that automates the process of analyzing the impact that system variables have on specified performance metrics, helping designers quickly reach an optimal design solution. It is a very effective tool for speeding optimization, since it rapidly scans the merit function space and selects the best starting variable configuration.

LightTools parameter sensitivity example model dialog | Synopsys

LightTools parameter sensitivity example model

Key features include support for multiple configurations, parameter lists for non-uniformly spaced variable states and non-numeric variables, and multiple chart views for detailed performance analysis. The tool also supports the ability to run scripts after variable values are changed or after each evaluation cycle is complete.

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Backlight Pattern Optimization: Optimize Curved Surfaces for High Spatial Uniformity

The LightTools Backlight Pattern Optimization (BPO) utility efficiently optimizes the performance of display systems including curved panels, backlights, and light pipes. For example, designs created with the utility can conform to a vehicle dashboard, rotate about a user's field of view, and have custom shapes – while also providing high spatial uniformity.

LightTools Backlight Pattern Optimization utility | Synopsys

LightTools Backlight Pattern Optimization utility

The BPO utility works with the LightTools Optimization Module to achieve the desired output by varying the spacing or the size of the pattern elements. Elements used to optimize the spatial uniformity can be 2D or 3D (texture) pattern elements.

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Freeform Optics Design

The LightTools Advanced Design Module has a set of specialized tools to enable fast, robust modeling of reflective and refractive freeform optics in both single-surface and segmented configurations for a diverse set of illumination applications. Freeform optical surfaces provide many advantages over conventional optics for meeting complex illumination requirements, such as precise light control, innovative styling, compact system dimensions and energy efficiency.

Freeform optics designs in LightTools | Synopsys

Freeform optics designs in LightTools

The Advanced Design Module leverages proprietary algorithms, including algorithms from Synopsys' LucidShape® products, that automatically calculate and construct optical geometries based on user-defined illuminance and intensity patterns. This unique, functional approach gives designers the freedom to focus on overall design objectives rather than the implementation details of complex optical components.

Key features in the Advanced Design Module include:

  • Freeform Design features for modeling freeform reflective and refractive surfaces that are automatically shaped to form a user-specified light pattern. Freeform design features are especially advantageous for systems with small light sources, such as LEDs and halogen lamps.
  • MacroFocal Reflector tool for designing multi-surface segmented reflectors, with different spreads for each facet. MacroFocal Reflector is useful when designing lighting systems for applications that need precise control of the light pattern or sharp intensity cutoffs at one or more sides of the beam. Applications include street lighting, outdoor lighting, and architectural lighting systems.
  • Procedural Rectangle Lens tool for designing surfaces with pillowed optical arrays, which enables precise light distribution control in LED luminaires and signal lighting, as well as in applications that require superposition of optical distributions.
  • LED Lens tool for creating various types of freeform LED focus and collimator lenses. These lenses produce highly efficient fiber illuminators or highly directed light distributions.  

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Tolerance Analysis for Manufacturability

Tolerance analysis – also called tolerancing – is a critical tool for designers. Tolerancing helps predict the manufacturability of optical systems and control manufacturing costs. In illumination optics design, tolerancing can be particularly useful for systems that require precision manufacturing, such as LED-based light guides, LIDAR, and freeform illumination components.

LightTools tolerance analysis | Synopsys

LightTools tolerance analysis

LightTools provides a Tolerance Manager that gives insights early in the design process into potential problem areas. It can also be used to analyze systems already in production, as well as predict performance changes based on errors expected to be introduced during the manufacturing process, LightTools allows designers to evaluate performance, adjust the required precision to achieve acceptable results, and predict manufacturability and production yields. 

The Tolerance Manager is part of the LightTools Optimization Module and supports: 

  • Sensitivity analysis to evaluate how sensitive each performance measure is to changes in tolerances that affect the system 
  • Interactive tolerancing to fine tune tolerance limits and instantly see the impact of changes 
  • Monte Carlo tolerance analysis to predict as-built system performance


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Light Guide Designer

The LightTools Light Guide Designer tool, which is part of the Optimization Module, automates the entire process of creating, designing, optimizing, and evaluating the performance of light-extracting light guides. It utilizes special algorithms to quickly optimize the spatial uniformity of flux extraction along the length of the light guide and ensure that the light is aimed properly. It can create a complete light guide system that includes the source, light guide with 3D prismatic extractors, external reflectors, and the output receiver.

LightTools light guide luminance analysis

LightTools light guide luminance analysis

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