Mechanical engineers require a variety of tools to ensure the proper design of optical products like cell phones and autonomous vehicle sensor systems. In a presentation titled "Trends Driving Innovations in Optical Product Design," an attendee asked our expert: What will be integrated into the design process next?

Zemax, based in Kirkland, WA, offers design software, training, and support services to optical and illumination industries. A Tech Briefs reader had the following question for company CEO Mark Nicholson:

Mark Nicholson, CEO, Zemax

What other tools do you believe will be integrated into the design process?

Mark Nicholson, Chief Executive Officer, Zemax: For customers using LensMechanix  and OpticStudio  together, we see a lot of interest in stress modeling, thermal modeling, and the modeling of particular dynamic effects.

For example, it may be that the optical system itself works well at Temperature A and Temperature B, but not when it's transitioning between those temperatures. There may be thermal gradients across lenses. The mounts that hold lenses can flex as the temperature changes, and it can cause differential stress.

I think we're looking at more and more detailed opto-mechanical effects as we're able now to analyze — relatively straightforwardly — issues like glare, unwanted light, and image contamination. We're now moving into more thermal effects and stress-related effects.

What do you think? Do you design optical products? Share your comments and questions below.