How to determine which material catalog is being used in OpticsViewer

This article explains how to determine which material catalog is being used as the source of the material data for a given surface or object. This is especially important when multiple material catalogs containing one or more materials with the same name are loaded.

Authored By Andrew Locke


OpticsViewer allows you to load in multiple material catalogs at once. This provides you with the means to utilize data from multiple vendors (or your own data) at the same time. However, OpticsViewer does not parse through these catalogs to check for naming conflicts. As such, it is possible for you to use multiple catalogs that contain a material with the same name - even if the material has different properties between catalogs.

In this article, we show you how to determine which catalog your material data is being pulled from.

Understanding the ordering of material catalogs

Often you will be using multiple material catalogs in a single lens system. It may not always be obvious which material catalog is being used for each sequential surface or non-sequential object in your system. This is especially true when material data with a given name is present in more than one loaded material catalog.

When you type in the name of a material for a surface or object,OpticsViewer looks at the list of the material catalogs loaded in the System Explorer, under Material Catalogs:

System Explorer - Materials

When there are multiple catalogs loaded in this dialog, OpticsViewer will search the loaded catalogs from top to bottom for each material specified in the Lens Data Editor. Once OpticsViewer finds the material specified in a loaded catalog, it will stop its search. Thus, if you specify a material that exists in more than one of the loaded catalogs, the uppermost of those catalogs is where the data will come from.

When using OpticsViewer, there is an easy way to determine which catalog a surface or object's material data is coming from. Simply select the relevant cell in the "Material” column of the Lens Data Editor and then open the Material Catalogs dialog. There are two ways to open this dialog:

  • Press F4 on your keyboard
  • Click Catalogs drop-down...Materials Catalog

No matter which method you select, OpticsViewer will open to the specific material data entry that it is using for that particular surface/object:

Lens Data Editor

Materials Catalog


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