Lighting and Thermal Simulation Tools
Tuesday, 25 April 2017

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This report presents an update on the evolution of lighting simulation tools and techniques developed by tier-1 and -2 automotive lighting companies (and by one automaker).

The proliferation of complex, intricate vehicle lighting systems (AFS, ADB, matrix and pixel beam, etc) necessitates system simulation and the ability to virtually drive a wide variety of beam patterns without having to run multiple expensive and time-consuming night drives in the real world. This ability to simulate is becoming ever more important as the newest lighting technologies continue to grow in complexity—µAFS, DMD, LCD, and MEMS scanning, for example.

Likewise, the market penetration of LEDs calls ever more urgently for virtual development tools—notably for thermal simulations and accounting for worst-case scenarios in term of tolerances with the extreme precision required for LED optics. Sophisticated visualisation tools and immersive system like CAVE give a good representation in virtual reality of the performance and appearance of the final product. These tools also deliver a high-fidelity representation of the final product in the virtual environment for evaluation and development of night and day design and style.

In the first part of this report an automaker's work in this field is described. Most carmakers have decided that simulators are very powerful tools to facilitate communication and collaboration between engineers and designers from the beginning of a project, even before suppliers are selected.

In the second part of the report, simulation approaches developed by tier-1 suppliers are presented. Simulation tools are key levers for companies in this field, and most details are closely-guarded secrets. Nevertheless, we've been authorised to present interesting information about the way lighting tier-1 suppliers simulate new products in development.

The third part of this report focuses on tier-2 suppliers. Since our last report, Synopsys acquired Brandenburg and now distribute a broad range of optical software adapted to every application. Optis' Speos product's impressive renderings are becoming de rigueur with the major importance given to style, and Oktal's SCANeR driving simulator has gained much traction, especially in the French market. The main features of their simulation tools are presented, together with their achievements.

The last part of the report describes thermal simulation, which has steadily increased in importance and is now quite essential given the prevalence of electronics and thermally-sensitive LEDs.

Lighting simulation teams are usually rather small units in a company. For these experts, it is especially important to exchange with experts from other companies. Nevertheless, there are not many conferences offered about this topic. This report provides in 30 pages comprehensive coverage of simulation tools for lighting and thermals.

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