The World of the Optical Designer Starting Point
I'm starting to write a professional blog about optical design, the blog is aimed for anyone working with optical designers or wants to understand this field better.
My first post is about: How to find a "starting point" for an efficient optical design
In my work as an optical designer for 17 years, I have performed optical designs of Virtual & Augmented Reality Systems, Cameras in different spectrums, optics for Night Vision Systems and more... During these projects I collaborated with various disciplines, such as mechanical engineers, system engineers, product managers, technical managers, program managers, production personnel, etc., I have often encountered problems arising from the misunderstanding and misperception of the optical design by others.
Therefore, I decided to shed light and reveal a part of the world of the optical designer in order to clarify what are the factors and challenges that the optical designer faces and what needs to be done in order for the joint work to be effective and efficient.
The world of the optical designer begins with the creation of the "starting point". This is one of the most difficult and crucial things in optical design.
How will the system look? What will be the concept? What would be the number of lenses? What type of lenses to use? Maybe, there should be a prism element? or a mirror? What would be the distance between the elements? the thickness of the lenses? the material of the lenses?
There are many questions.....
This process is similar to writing a song or a melody, so the optical designer is a kind of artist that creates something from nothing. It is well known that during the Renaissance, artists were also kind of engineers. Leonardo da Vinci is an excellent example of being both.
So, indeed, the optical designer is a kind of optical artist...
So what one should do in order to start an optical design and find a good “starting point”:
1. It is very important to understand the customer’s requirements and being able to translate them into system requirements. It’s highly important to derive the optical engineering requirements and to prioritize between them, so the optical designer will understand the main goals and customer or user needs. In Joya Team, we believe that the optical designer is a key roll in this process.
Based on the requirements and their priorities, the designer can reduce the number of options or focus on a certain type of solution. For example, in case the temperature requirement is not very challenging, but system cost and weight are more important, plastic or polymer materials optical elements should be considered. On the other hand, if temperature requirement is challenging (wide temp. range), glass materials or a-thermal design should be chosen.
2. A good past experience and practice may be used by the optical designer as a good starting point for the new design.
3. Some optical design software has a built-in lens or optical systems catalogs that often give a good starting point for a new design.
4. Finally, and most importantly, the key that makes the difference, is a combination between the creativity of the optical designer, his understanding of the system requirements, his experience and his ability to collaborate with other disciplines.
A good "starting point" will lead the whole design process to a well-coordinated, efficient, and faster path and will lead to a product that will differentiate the customer from his competitors.
In addition, in order to choose the best "starting point", my recommendation is to design a number of different optical concepts, analyze and evaluate them and perform a trade-off that chooses the solution that provides the best value package.