Engineers need a practical tool to assist with designing architectural and lighting components made from reflecting materials such as glass and mirror. So the MAX: R+I team developed one in-house.
The result is Beam Tracer. A custom-written plug-in for Rhino 3D CAD software, Beam Tracer simulates and draws paths taken by beams of light passing through spaces with multiple specular reflections.
Using ‘forward ray tracing’ the program algorithm traces the paths of light through 3D model geometry. It implements the required transmissions, absorptions and reflections wherever the light meets a surface.
Both electric and natural light can be simulated, and the app includes a module to create virtual sunlight rays at any world location, date and time.
How It WorksView
Many established rendering packages have 'forward ray tracing' capabilities but they’re too slow to use as design tools. The strength of Beam Tracer is that it can be used to trace and visualise light rays in real time within the CAD environment. The results are displayed diagrammatically rather than a photorealistic render, which allows us to design interactively with rapid virtual prototypes.