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    Zemax 21.3 Supports Modeling Complex Geometries Required for Miniaturization of Next-Gen Optical Systems

    KIRKLAND, WA, USA, Sep 27, 2021 – Zemax announces the latest releases of their flagship software, OpticStudio, the OpticStudio STAR Module, and OpticsBuilder. This release continues our commitment to deliver regular updates to our customers. Zemax has delivered three major product releases in 2021, the first in January (21.1) followed by the May release (21.2) and now the September (21.3) release.




    OpticStudio 21.3: New Off-axis Mirror object, project directories, and more secure file format

    OpticStudio 21.3 includes native support for off-axis conic aspheric mirrors in non-sequential mode. While such objects are commonly used within aerospace and defense, they are seeing increasing use in the design of optical systems across a host of other applications as they can provide high performance at a smaller size. Non-sequential support for off-axis aspheres, as well as for complex aspheres such as the Q-type asphere added in the 21.2 release, enables the as-built performance of systems using these “modern geometries” to be accurately characterized, allowing engineers to account for the impacts of realistic sources, stray light, and opto-mechanics. Non-sequential support is also critical in supporting an integrated design workflow between OpticStudio, CAD, and finite element analysis (FEA).



    We have also upgraded the way you manage and archive OpticStudio project files. In the 21.3 release, you will see support for a new capability called a Project Directory that simplifies the challenge of sharing and collaborating on the hierarchy of files included in an OpticStudio design. The Project Directory allows auxiliary files associated with the OpticStudio design to be stored in the same location as the OpticStudio file. While these auxiliary files will still be stored within a folder hierarchy, the hierarchy can be saved and shared within a single archive file and automatically reproduced when restoring the archive file. We currently support the most commonly used auxiliary files in the Project Directory, including glass catalogs, coating files, CAD files, and scatter files. Other auxiliary design files will be added to the Project Directory capability in future releases.

    Security is an essential component of collaboration. In the 21.3 release, the default file format has been updated. This new, more secure binary file format uses the ZOS file extension. Currently, the ZOS format saves all the same data that is saved in ZMX files, but we have designed the new format to anticipate new functionality that may be added to future releases. Design files can still be saved in the ZMX file format in the 21.3 release, and the 21.3 release (as well as future releases) will continue the ability to read ZMX files.

    OpticStudio STAR Module 21.3: FEA data set location flexibility and deformation vector arrows

    Earlier this year, we introduced the OpticStudio Structural, Thermal, Analysis and Results (STAR) Module, which simplifies and streamlines workflows by allowing the import of finite element analysis (FEA) data sets into OpticStudio for native assessment of structural and thermal impacts on optical system performance.

    With 21.3, we have extended these capabilities. You can now:

    1) Load FEA data saved in any coordinate system. This capability enables you to use the STAR Module seamlessly with any FEA data regardless of the coordinate system in which it has been saved, even if that is not in the local or global coordinate system of the OpticStudio design.



    2) Visualize magnitude vectors from surface deformations. We have added vector arrows to the deformation magnitude plot in System Viewer; you can now clearly see the direction of each deformation, and the vector length is shown as proportional to the impact.



    With the 21.3 release, we have also provided the STAR Module user interface in Japanese or Chinese, to better support users in those regions.

    OpticsBuilder 21.3: Compound/Boolean object positioning and source/detector visualization

    The latest release of OpticsBuilder allows for modification of the position and orientation of Compound and Boolean optical components and lets you visualize sources and detectors in the graphics area of the UI when these elements are selected in Optics Manager. Compound and Boolean components are created from geometries that do not have a native non-sequential counterpart in OpticStudio, often for complex geometries such as mirrors with asymmetric or off-axis apertures. The freedom to reposition such objects in your optomechanical design is critical to accommodating spatial constraints. For sources and detectors, the OpticsBuilder UI now features “at a glance” aids in the OpticsBuilder UI that provide a visual reference for confirming the object you currently have selected.



    In addition, OpticsBuilder 21.3 provides enhanced ease of use in the Optics Manager, as well as in the Boundary Rays and Mechanical Edge tools. The Optics Manager now lists static and simulation rays separately, and the Boundary Rays tool identifies boundary rays as static. Improvements to the Mechanical Edge tool let you dynamically change the outside diameter for an object by entering new mechanical edge values and uses left/right (rather than numeric) notation to help you better understand which edge you are adjusting at any time.



    The 21.3 release also includes a new SOLIDWORKS cell phone camera lens sample file that demonstrates the use of customized mounting edges for injection molded lenses. Customized edges reduce the overall size and weight requirements for an optomechanical design by enabling the lens to snap into the assembly without requiring additional mechanical components to hold it in place. New SOLIDWORKS sample files for a rifle scope, an ultra-short throw (UST) projector, and the latest Heliar lenses are also included with this release.

    Downloads and release notes

    Login to your Zemax account and select your software downloads from the “My Account” page. Release notes can be found by clicking on “View details” from the same screen.

    About Zemax

    Zemax’s industry-leading optical product design and simulation software, OpticStudioOpticStudio STAR ModuleOpticsBuilder, and OpticsViewer, helps optical, mechanical, and manufacturing engineering teams turn their ideas into reality. Standardizing on Zemax software reduces design iterations and repeated prototypes, speeding time to market and reducing development costs. Zemax is headquartered in Kirkland, Washington and has offices in the UK, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and China. For more information, visit

    Sachin R Nalawade
    Sachin R Nalawade
    Founder and Editor DailyCADCAM. A highly-driven astute professional and avid marketer; equipped with a solid foundation in Academia; Manufacturing, CAD, CAM, CAE industry and Implementing Marketing Initiatives for Global Brands (All Design Software and Hardware Vendors).

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