Automated part interference speeds complex design

Zygo Corp. faced complex weight and assembly design challenges when developing a new flight simulator display for pilots.


Zygo Corp . faced complex weight and assembly design challenges when developing a new flight simulator display for pilots. It had to offer better resolution, reduce pilot fatigue, and fit any pilot's helmet (rather than forcing trainees to use a shared helmet). The Middlefield, CT-based company specializes in developing equipment that tests the curvature, surface texture, and wavelength capabilities of lenses and lens systems used in a variety of applications, including cameras, microscopes, and telescopes. Zygo also manufactures optical products, such as lenses, lasers, and space-borne telescopes.

The company says it significantly improved design productivity and fine-tuned the device's weight and durability using SolidWorks 3D mechanical design software and the Cosmos design analysis tool, both from SolidWorks Corp ., a Dassault Systemes S.A. company.

"The optical design is very complex. The display literally wraps around the pilot's helmet," says Michael Harkins, senior mechanical designer at Zygo's research and development division in Cosa Mesa, CA. "We simply couldn't have designed it in 2D.

The 3D design software's ease of use, assembly capabilities, and automated part interference features proved invaluable to the display's design, says Harkins; the software's ability to detect and fix colliding parts also saved a lot of time and downstream errors.

The design analysis software allowed Zygo to troubleshoot design errors and reduce prototyping costs. For example, engineers used the software to ensure the tiny rods that support the display had the appropriate stiffness to handle the display's weight, the low profile to minimize visual distractions, and the light weight to reduce pilot fatigue. Says Harkins: "SolidWorks and CosmosWorks have made us more productive and innovative."

For related reading from Control Engineering , see " Automation Design: Beyond the Third Dimension ."

—Renee Robbins, editorial director, Control Engineering,

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