The SOLIDWORKS Link Module enhances the design and optimization capabilities of LightTools by allowing you to manipulate and modify SOLIDWORKS geometry in LightTools as if you were working with native LightTools geometry. Unlike a data exchange module, the SOLIDWORKS Link Module establishes a bidirectional connection between SOLIDWORKS and LightTools. This enables you to update sketches and features in the SOLIDWORKS model from LightTools, see changes made in SOLIDWORKS to linked parts and assemblies from LightTools, and establish optical properties that are persistently defined in LightTools throughout the process. Because LightTools can update the model in SOLIDWORKS and receive the changes to the model from SOLIDWORKS without user interaction, you can also automatically refine SOLIDWORKS geometry using the LightTools Optimization Module.
Traditionally, when designing an optical system in CAD software, you would create a design, import the model into LightTools, set up sources and receivers, define surface and material properties for the system, and perform the optical analysis – and then repeat this process several times, if necessary. With the SOLIDWORKS Link Module, you bring the CAD geometry into the model and set up its optical properties only once. Then, you can push one button to bring any subsequent updates from SOLIDWORKS into LightTools. LightTools automatically assigns the same optical properties to updated geometry that you defined for the original geometry, and the system is ready for analysis.
Alternatively, you can initiate changes to the SOLIDWORKS model from LightTools. The SOLIDWORKS feature-tree hierarchy is visible in the LightTools System Navigator, which allows you to update any driving numeric parameter (i.e., dimension or feature parameter) in the linked SOLIDWORKS model from the LightTools user interface. You cannot add features or dimensions to the SOLIDWORKS part or assembly from within LightTools, but you can use any driving parameter as an optimization variable. As with any other geometric entity in LightTools, you can also select SOLIDWORKS geometry to perform Boolean operations to create more complex geometry. This is especially useful if you need to use optical surface definitions, such as a polynomial asphere.
By combining the power of the SOLIDWORKS geometric modeler with the optical capabilities of LightTools, the SOLIDWORKS Link Module enables you to design, analyze, and optimize a complete optical system in one software package.