Project Optisys: Plastic instead of glass, microstructues, multi-layered lenses

Project OptiSys: Plastic instead of glass – we collaborated with partners including KraussMaffei, Hella and Fraunhofer, to create new multi-layered lenses for LED headlights

We have expanded the functionality of CADMOULD to include the simulation of micro-structures on the surface of plastic parts

An increasing share of of luxury segment and midsize cars use LED headlights. Because LEDs generate less heat than classic incandescent bulbs, this has created an opportunity to replace glass elements in the lenses with lighter and less expensive lenses made of translucent plastic, which meet the same optical requirements as their glass counterparts. In project OptiSys, we, as a technology leader in injection moulding simulation, collaborated with world-leading automotive industry suppliers to develop multi-layered glass-free lenses for LED headlights.

Micro-structures on the surface of the lens

The key development objectives of project OptiSys were to use microstructures to improve the scattering of light, while reducing the volume and size of lenses, using the principles of Fresnel lenses. These microstructures are generated on the surface of the part during the injection molding process, using geometries that are engraved directly into the mold. We developed the capability to model these structures specifically for project OptiSys. Going forward, we are now offering this kind of simulation as a service. This functionality is also being integrated into our injection moulding simulation solution CADMOULD.

High optical quality of the lenses through multi-step injection molding process

The high optical quality of the lenses is achieved using a multi-layered structure comprised of different materials, such as PMMA and PMMI. To optimize the design of this thick, multilayered free-form lens, we deployed our optimization solution VARIMOS, which is fully integrated with CADMOULD. It harnesses the speed and accuracy of CADMOULD’s simulation engine to rapidly explore different combinations of parameters in an automated fashion, and then mathematically optimize part geometry and production parameters. “In this way, the artificial intelligence integrated in VARIMOS automatically explores and learns the impact of different parameters like thickness of layers, gate locations, injection temperatures. And then it computes the optimal solution, based on what it has learned.”, explains Max Mades, our project manager in research and delelopment.

Successful collaboration

In project OptiSys, we collaborated closely with several partners including Hella GmbH & Co. KgaA, a world-leading supplier of headlights and lighting systems, KrausMaffei Group GmbH, a global producer of machinery for the production and processing of plastics, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Mechanics IWM. The project was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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