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Features | Analysis & Reports | CAD Integration | Edition Comparison | Optimization | Performance & Accuracy | User Interface | Utilities


Illumination system designs using TracePro are often accomplished in an iterative manner with modifications between steps handled manually or through 2D and 3D optimization based on user-defined criteria:

  • Layout of physical geometry, setting optical properties, specifying location, and orientation 
  • Definition of optical sources as grid sources, surface sources or ray files
  • Tracing rays to calculate illumination distributions throughout the system
  • Optimization
  • Results analysis
  • Reporting

Solid Modeling

TracePro models are created by importing lens design or CAD files, or by directly creating solid geometry within TracePro. You can modify imported or built geometry using move, rotate, and scale operations for solid objects and sweep and revolve operations for surfaces via the user-friendly, 3D CAD interface. Special tools allow you to insert primitive solids (tubes, blocks, cones, and spheres), and optical elements (lens elements, reflectors, and Fresnel lenses).

TracePro’s utilities allow interactive sketching to quickly enter 2D and 3D profiles and then extrude, revolve, and combine these profiles to create sophisticated geometry, like lightpipes and biconic reflectors, as well as free-form optics. Visualization options include solid rendering, silhouette, wireframe, hidden line views, and the ability to pan, rotate, and zoom, as well as other standard geometry manipulation techniques.

Optical Properties

A wide range of material and surface properties are available to apply to objects and surfaces in the model. Optical properties that you can specify include index of refraction and absorption coefficient, aperture diffraction, reflectance and transmittance coefficients, surface absorption, surface and volume scatter, polarization, fluorescence, gradient index, and temperature distribution. You can create surfaces with random or periodic arrays of repeated structures using the RepTile™ feature. You can define custom properties or choose from TracePro’s database of commercially-available materials and coatings.

Light Sources

TracePro simulates the distribution of luminous intensity, irradiance/illuminance, and flux throughout a model or at selected surfaces by tracing rays using the Monte Carlo method. Light sources are modeled by emitting rays. Additionally, TracePro’s Surface Source Property Utility enables you to digitize angular and spectral information directly from a manufacturer’s datasheet.

You can define ray sets using any combination of three methods:

  • Grid – specify spatial and angular beam profile, weighting, and dimensions along with beam orientation, polarization state, and degree of polarization.
  • Surface – specify angular distribution from one or more surfaces of a solid object using luminance flux, or irradiance/illuminance. Surfaces can also be defined as blackbody or gray body radiators.
  • Ray File – predefined ray tables consisting of XYZ starting points and direction vectors, polarization states, wavelength data, and the initial flux value or Stokes Vector for each ray. Ray files are typically created from measured results or theoretical calculation.

Ray Tracing

The TracePro ray tracing engine is known for both performance and accuracy.


TracePro provides a comprehensive set of tools to view and analyze results of the ray-trace including:

  • Irradiance/illuminance maps show irradiance incident, absorbed, or exiting a selected surface. Options are available to control output, and you can export results to a text file or a bitmap file.
  • Luminance/Radiance Maps can be displayed as true color based on the wavelengths traced. You can also create a photorealistic rendering using the optical properties and sources applied to the model.
  • 3-D Irradiance/illuminance plots map the incident flux on the selected surfaces or objects, displayed on top of the 3D CAD geometry.
  • Candela plots show luminous or radiant intensity in candela or watts/steradian.
  • Polarization maps chart the polarization ellipse for the incident flux on to the selected surface. Color levels and ellipses graphically display the degree of polarization and ellipicity at points on the surface.
  • Incident Ray Tables provide tabular output of every ray incident on a selected surface.
  • Ray History Tables give you complete history of every ray incident on a selected surface.
  • Path Sorting Tables give you a sortable table of ray paths incident on a selected surface, with interactive viewing of rays and irradiance maps.

Map and plot output can be further controlled with Ray Sorting. For example, analysis results can be filtered to show only the rays intersecting a surface, rays of a certain wavelength, interaction type, or flux range.

Click to enlarge image 12-20-12 Desklamp irradiance.jpg

Desklamp - Irradiance


TracePro offers sophisticated 2D (for axially or biaxially symmetric systems) and 3D (for asymmetric systems) optimization providing complete and interactive control of optimization parameters.


TracePro can generate a variety of ray trace and property reports. For example:

  • Flux Reports provide a summary of surface area, number of incident rays, incident and absorbed flux and lost flux. Data is displayed for bulk absorption and incident flux for each object.
  • Property Data Reports contain the model’s property data. 
  • Ray Trace Reports display physical and virtual memory usage and elapsed ray trace time.



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TracePro provides a comprehensive set of tools to view and analyze results of a 
ray trace simulation, including:

  • Irradiance/Illuminance Maps show irradiance, CIE xy or u’v’, and true color maps of light incident on, absorbed by, or exiting a selected surface. Multiple options are available to control pixel count, profiles, relief plotting, linear and logarithmic output, gradient, color maps, and smoothing 
    as well as exporting results to a text file or a bitmap file for later viewing
  • Candela Plots are plots of luminous intensity, or flux per solid angle. In photometric units, a luminous intensity plot is in units of candelas, or lumens per steradian. In radiometric units, the corresponding quantity is called intensity, and has units of watt/steradian. Candela plots are commonly used in the design of illumination systems. Several Candela Plots may be displayed from the raytrace data. Depending on your selections in the Candela Options dialog box, TracePro considers incident rays, exiting rays, or flux that misses all the model geometry during the raytrace as Candela data. The candela plots present flux versus angle and can be smoothed using the Candela Options dialog box. The iso-candela plots can be presented as false color maps or contour plots. The distribution plots are graphs of cross-sectional curves through the candela distribution.
  • Luminance/Radiance Maps can be displayed as true color based on the wavelengths traced. Luminance Maps can be used to make very accurate photorealistic renderings using the optical properties and sources applied to the model. 3D Irradiance Plots map irradiance, CIE and true color plots of the incident, absorbed or exiting flux onto the selected surfaces or objects 
    in the system view. This mapping is achieved by layering the light map of the displayed flux or color output on top of the 3D CAD geometry. 
    Multiple options are available for contour plotting, transparency, ambient lighting, linear and logarithmic output, gradient shading, color maps, and smoothing. Candela Plots show luminous or radiant intensity in candelas or watts/steradian. There are four types of candela plots, Polar Candela and Iso-Candela, Rectangular Candela and Iso-Candela.
  • Polarization Maps chart the polarization ellipse for the incident flux onto the selected surface. Color levels and ellipses graphically display the degree of polarization and ellipticity at points on the surface.
  • Incident Ray Tables provide tabular output of rays incident on a 
    selected surface.
  • Ray History Tables create a complete history of every surface intersection along the path of the ray, for each ray incident on a selected surface.
  • Path Sorting Tables create a sortable table of every non-sequential ray path incident on a selected surface, with interactive breakout and visualization 
    of each ray path, and irradiance maps of selected paths.
  • Optical Path Length (OPL) or Time-of-Flight Plots present flux absorbed 
    or incident on a selected surface versus OPL for specialized analyses.
  • Volume Flux Maps visualize the flux absorbed, incident, lost, 
    or emitted throughout a rectangular volume.

Map and plot output can be further controlled with Ray Sorting. For example, analysis results can be filtered to show only the rays intersecting a surface, 
rays of a certain wavelength, interaction type, or flux range.

TracePro can generate a variety of ray-trace and property reports, including:

  • Ray Sorting, Tracing, Histories
  • Flux
  • Path Sorting
  • Irradiance/Illuminance
  • 3D Irradiance/Illuminance
  • Radiance/Luminance
  • Candela
  • Incident Ray Table
  • OPL/Time of Flight



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SolidWorks is the most popular CAD system in use today for luminaire mechanical design. 

TracePro offers seamless integration with SolidWorks using the TracePro Bridge
an add-in to SolidWorks that allows designers to apply and save optical properties directly to the SolidWorks model via the TracePro System Tree within SolidWorks.

A single model is used by TracePro and SolidWorks preserving mechanical and optical properties as you move back and forth between SolidWorks and TracePro. As a result, design productivity is dramatically improved without sacrificing performance or functionality. View the TracePro Bridge page to learn more.

CAD File Translators

TracePro includes translators that enable import and export of CAD files in SAT (ACIS) format. Additional translators are available as optional add-ins that permit import and export of IGES and STEP files, and import of other popular CAD file formats.

Lens Design File Translators

TracePro includes translators to import lens design files from popular optical design programs, including OSLO, Code V, and Zemax.



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Three editions of TracePro are available to cost-effectively accommodate your design needs. Please contact an applications engineer for assistance in selecting an edition of TracePro that best meets your specific requirements.



  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
User-friendly CAD Interface Yes Yes Yes
Interoperability with commercial CAD and Lens Design Software Yes Yes Yes
Material property catalogs of commercially available glass, plastics, metals, GRINs, fluorophores and biological tissue Yes Yes Yes
Surface property catalogs of commercially available thin film coatings, anodizing, paints Yes Yes Yes
Library of commercially available lenses and filters Yes Yes Yes
Notes Editor Yes Yes Yes
Macro Language (Scheme)   Yes Yes
Macro Recorder   Yes Yes
Scheme Editor   Yes Yes
Iterative Analysis and Optimization with Macro Language   Yes Yes
Optimization   Utility Utility
Source Property Generator
Utility Utility
BSDF Converter 
IES/LDT Import and Analysis
Utility Utility
Texture Optimizer      Utility
Solar Emulator
2D and 3D Interactive Optimizer 
2D and 3D Geometry Modelers 
 Utility   Utility   Utility 
Fluorescence Property Generator     Utility

Solid Modeling

  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
CAD File Import/Export
SAT (ACIS) Read/Write Yes Yes Yes
TracePro Bridge for SolidWorks Optional  Optional  Optional 
STEP Read/Write Optional  Optional  Optional 
IGES Read/Write Optional  Optional  Optional 
Inventor Read Optional  Optional  Optional 
Pro/E Read Optional  Optional  Optional 
Lens Design File Import
CODE V, OSLO, ZEMAX Read Yes Yes Yes
CAD Features      
Solid Modeling Yes Yes Yes
Number of Objects Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Boolean Operations Yes Yes Yes
Healing Imported Files Yes Yes Yes
3D Interactive View Yes Yes Yes
Rendered Objects Yes Yes Yes
Transparent Objects Yes Yes Yes
Measurement Capabilities Yes Yes Yes


  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
Surface Property Modeling Yes Yes Yes
Bulk Absorption Yes Yes Yes
Diffraction   Yes Yes
Bulk Scatter   Yes Yes
GRIN   Yes Yes
Thin Film Stacks   Yes Yes
Polarization   Yes Yes
Diffraction Gratings   Yes Yes
Temperature Dependent Properties   Yes Yes
Direction-Sensitive Surfaces   Yes Yes
Scatter Models Symmetric Symmetric & Asymmetric Symmetric & Asymmetric
Anisotropic Surface Properties   Yes Yes
Tabular Scatter Models - Symmetric    Yes Yes
Tabular Scatter Models - Asymmetric    Yes Yes
Repetitive Tile (RepTile™) Surfaces     Yes
3-D Textures for RepTile     Yes
Temperature Distributions     Yes
Birefringence     Yes
Wire Grid Polarizers     Yes
Fluorescence     Yes


  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
Ray Grids Yes Yes Yes
Surface Sources Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Primitive Solids Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
User defined shapes Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Blackbody/Graybody Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Irradiance Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Asymmetric Sources Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Source Files Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Radiant Imaging Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
General file Input Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Bit Map Source Module Utility  Utility  Utility 


  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
Ray Splitting Yes Yes Yes
Exact Raytracing Yes Yes Yes
Accelerated Raytracing Yes Yes Yes
Facetted Raytracing Yes Yes Yes
Simulation Mode Yes Yes Yes
Multiple Exit Surfaces (Simulation Mode) Yes Yes Yes
Refraction Capabilities Yes Yes Yes
Multiple Wavelengths Yes Yes Yes
Importance Sampling   Yes Yes
Stratified Importance Sampling   Yes Yes
Reverse Raytrace   Yes Yes
Voxelization in Object Space - enhance speed vs. memory consumption   Yes Yes
Gradient Index Substep Tolerance - enhance speed vs. accuracy   Yes Yes


  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
Irradiance Maps Yes Yes Yes
Candela Plots (Intensity) Yes Yes Yes
Flux Reports Yes Yes Yes
3D Irradiance Maps Yes Yes Yes
File Output Yes Yes Yes
Ray Sorting Yes Yes Yes
Irradiance/Illuminance Viewer Yes Yes Yes
Display Selected Rays (Ensquared Flux) Yes Yes Yes
CIE (xy), CIE (u'ν'), RGB Yes Yes Yes
Luminance / Radiance Yes Yes Yes
Polarization Maps   Yes Yes
Volume Flux   Yes Yes



  TracePro LC TracePro Standard TracePro Expert
Arc Lamps Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Lightpipes Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Ghost Analysis Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Narcissus Analysis Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
LED Systems Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Laser Diode Systems Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
IR Imaging Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
IR Detection Systems Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Lithography Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Medical Applications Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Conventional Optics Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Fiber Optic Design Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Unusual Optics and Lenslet Arrays Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Beam Splitter and Prism Systems Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Illumination and Display Systems Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Projection Systems Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Life Sciences Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
LCD Projection  Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Stray Light Analysis  Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited



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TracePro streamlines the prototype-to-manufacturing process for optical and illumination systems using 2D symmetric and 3D non-symmetric optimization. Different from traditional optimizers, TracePro’s Optimization Utilities offer 
easy-to-use and unique capabilities to interactively monitor and control 
the process every step of the way.

TracePro Optimization Utilities are non-sequential optimization modules that 
use dynamic data exchange (DDE) and the Scheme programming language to transfer information back and forth between the utilities and TracePro. 
The utilities consist of several components to step you through the design process.

First, you can use the sketch utility to digitize an idea using line, spline, 
or conic segments to create an initial design. Then, establish a merit function using five different operand types, flux, CIE (x,y), CIE (u,v), irradiance profile, 
and candela profile. Each operand can be used in combination with any other operand. The merit function uses weights to balance the multiple operands based on the desired targets.

You can also employ TracePro’s powerful Scheme language to control interaction with the created geometry, modify optical properties for each 
surface and solid object, and control positioning of solid objects. The object function allows you to move objects and modify control points and segments into place using the drag-and-drop interface.

Each variable can be visually checked before, during, and after optimization. Lastly, the entire design can be verified and improved using an 
interactive raytracer. Validating the final design iteration ensures 
the product’s performance requirements can be met quickly and efficiently.

2D/3D Optimization

TracePro’s 2D and 3D optimizers use the Downhill Simplex, also known as Nelder-Mead, method for optimization. The Downhill Simplex method is a 
local optimizer that converges to the local minimum solution closest to 
the starting point. During an optimization, you have complete control of 
the process and can monitor the interim solutions. You can stop the optimizer 
and change the initial starting parameters, then re-start the optimization. 
This allows you to control the process and test for better solutions in less time.

TracePro 2D and 3D Optimizers can be used for a variety of applications, including:

  • LED lens design
  • Diffuser and Reflective Surface Property Selection
  • Lightpipe optimization
  • Streetlamp optimization
  • Luminaire optimization
  • Baffle design
  • Surface property verification and selection

All functions of the optimizer utility work with only the TracePro Standard and Expert editions.



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TracePro’s ray tracing engine is fast and accurate, while giving designers complete control over parameters to achieve simulation results quickly with no compromise in accuracy. Ray tracing features include:

  • Ray Splitting
  • Exact Raytracing ‒ no missed intersections or “leaky” rays
  • Simulation Mode for tracing very large numbers of rays
  • Multiple Exit Surfaces (Simulation Mode)
  • Voxelization of Object Space for fast ray tracing
  • Aperture Diffraction
  • Stratified Importance Sampling

Analysis Mode ray tracing, unique to TracePro, allows you to interactively examine raytrace results for any surface in your model. It is very powerful for setting up and proving out your model, or determining the feasibility of your design. For detailed, accurate simulations of your final design requiring millions of rays, use Simulation Mode to obtain analysis results for selected surfaces.



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TracePro sets itself apart from other optical and illumination design 
software solutions with its uniquely friendly and intuitive graphical user interface. Mechanical engineers and others familiar with CAD software will experience the shortest learning curve with TracePro.

TracePro is a standard Windows application that uses a menu bar, 
icon-based toolbars, drop-down menus, and a system tree. The working area, 
called the Model View, is where users will add and manipulate models they want to simulate and optimize. Properties, utilities, and other features appear in windows, drop-down menus, dialog boxes, property sheets, etc.

In the Model View and with certain utilities, you can move objects and modify control points and segments into place using the drag-and-drop interface. Rotate, scale, and orientation can also be manipulated in the Model View 
or by using commands in the menu bar.


  • Rendered
  • Silhouette
  • Wireframe
  • Hidden Line

Measurement tools

Measure distance from:

  • Vertex to vertex
  • Vertex to edge
  • Vertex to surface
  • Edge to edge
  • Edge to surface
  • Surface to surface

Creating geometries within TracePro is extremely simple. You can add 
primitive solids, such as blocks, cylinders, cones, tori, spheres, and thin sheets. 
Boolean operations enable you to intersect, subtract, and unite overlapping 
primitive bodies to create more complex models. Almost any surface can be extruded or revolved any number of times to create complex lightpipes, 
lenses or reflector shapes. TracePro also includes allows you to create lenses, Fresnel lenses, reflectors, tubes, and baffle vanes.



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2D and 3D Optimizers - TracePro’s optimizer utilities allow interactive sketching to quickly enter 2D and 3D profiles and then extrude, revolve, and combine 
these profiles to create sophisticated geometry, like lightpipes and 
biconic reflectors, as well as free-form optics. Visualization options include 
solid rendering, silhouette, wireframe, hidden line views, and the ability to pan, rotate, and zoom, as well as other standard geometry manipulation techniques. A merit function can be created, with interactively-defined geometric parameters as variables, and targets based on Irradiance/Illuminance maps, candela plots, efficiency, and/or color. The optimizers will optimize the design, while allowing 
interactive control of the optimization process.

3D Optimizer Lightpipe

Bitmap Source Utility – reads an image (e.g. jpeg) and creates a Ray File with rays emitted by the image that can be inserted into a TracePro model.

Solar Utility – analyzes solar collector systems using dialogs to specify geographical location, period of sun travel with uniaxial tracking, and 
user defined irradiance for both direct and indirect sun contribution. 
Analysis output includes irradiance and candela maps, with total flux and efficiency over time on the target.

Surface Source Property Utility – enables the TracePro surface source property to be set up quickly and accurately. The utility allows you to digitize angular and spectral information directly from a manufacturer’s datasheet. While useful 
for LEDs, this tool can also be used to generate a surface source property for 
any type of light source.

Fluorescence Property Utility for White LED Design – optimizes 
down-converting of phosphor formulations and excitation LEDs selection in 
white LED design. The utility also facilitates the creation of the fluorescence 
material property in the TracePro model. It allows you to digitize the excitation, absorption, and emission spectra of the material and the relative spectral power distribution of the excitation LED from the manufacturer’s datasheet. While useful for white LED design, this utility can also be used to generate a 
fluorescence property for any type of energy-converting material.

IES/LDT Analysis Utility – imports photometric data in ANSI/IESNA standard electronic file formats and directly from TracePro’s candela plot and 
creates TracePro Surface Source and File Source Properties. The utility has 
a large reporting capability to create customized reports and or use premade reports to output roadway, interior, and exterior data for automotive and street lighting users. The IES Import Utility adheres to the most recently published standards from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

IES Utility Street Analysis

RepTile™ Texture Optimization Utility – defines and creates repetitive microstructures on any planar surface. The utility is commonly used to 
optimize structured Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) backlight components, 
including Brightness Enhancement Films (BEFs), Turning Films, Edge-Lit TVs, and 
extraction features in light guides. With a TracePro model of a backlight, 
the RepTile utility generates and optimizes a distribution of scattering dots to 
achieve a target irradiance or illuminance distribution. While useful for optimizing structured backlight components, this tool can also be used to optimize Digital Micromirror Display (DMD) chips commonly used in 
DLP projection displays as well as aspheric lens arrays.

BSDF Conversion Utility – provides an easy way to transform measured 
BSDF (light scattering) data into a TracePro Surface Property file. Once the measurement data is imported, the utility will automatically compute the 
best-fit A, B, and g value to create a mathematical model of the BSDF for 
each incident direction. The utility also allows manual adjustments of 
the A, B, and g values with real-time updating of the graphical display of the BSDF. Users can also select the export type of the surface property file, 
either ABg model or Asymmetric Table BSDF.

Click to enlarge image Interactive Optimizer.jpg