Over the past few decades of computer aided engineering growth there has been much more progress in increasing the
power and capability of function specific engineering tools (e.g., optical design, finite element analysis, etc.) than in the
integration of and communication between these tools. With only a few notable exceptions, such as FEA being
imbedded into solid modeling, the communication method between the function specific tools continues to be dominated
by translation to neutral data formats (e.g., IGES, STEP) and file transfer. There are a number of problems with this
approach. The translation is a serial process where an engineer has to stop at some point in the design, make the neutral
file, send that file to the next function, and wait for feedback. The translation through a neutral format is typically one
way so the whole translation process has to be repeated when changes are required. Revision tracking of multiple files
for each design iteration is both critical and a likely source of errors. Also, as with any translation, some information is
always lost or corrupted in the process.
This paper describes some progress that has been made in more tightly integrating optical design, mechanical design,
fabrication, and testing of optical systems. Tools have been developed that connect CODE V® to SolidWorks®
(bidirectional), compensation of diamond turning CNC from interferometric data, slope analysis from interferometer and
profilometer data, and other tools for wavefront error compensation, and electronic nulls. Design, machining, testing
and inspection efficiency gains are achieved through tools that consume mechanical solid models in their native format.