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Astronomical Precision

Quasar - optical tube assembly


Professional telescope components from Quasar Astrotech find the perfect fit to high-precision optics.

"Because there is extremely high accuracy in the production of mirrors and lenses, we need the same kind of accuracy in the mechanics for mounting and controls," says Thomas Heinle, designer at the German design studio Quasar Astrotech, which makes components for professional astronomical telescopes. "These two product groups must be perfectly matched for the system to function at optimum performance."

Quasar Astrotech creates the mechanical side of these systems, which are far more complex and mechnanized than their amateur counterparts. Beyond the main cylindrical assembly of the scope’s optics -- the optical tube assembly (OTA) – there are a wide range of motorized components and electronic controllers, which produce the minute adjustments in the OTA’s positioning and focus.

For Heinle’s staff, parametric modeling in Alibre Design is the way to solve problem within a system that has to fit together perfectly.

Quasar - optical tube assembly

"Alibre helps us better understand and often eliminate shortcomings in the details, whether in the smallest component or in the assembly of the entire project. In the end, we often get a product that even surpirses us in what it can do," says Heinle.

"When engineering a new product, there are many questions that the digital assembly: Will the parts come together within the correct tolerance? How heavy are the components? Almost all the mechanical parts of our products must be very light and made of special aluminum alloys. We can use the parametic modeling in Alibre Design to calculate the expected weight of the parts in advance."

The constraints of producing high-precision aluminium parts digital also has to be an early consideration in the virtual model. "Another issue is whether the individual parts are manufactured easily with CNC machines," he says. "We typically convert the 3D model data from the Alibre model into CNC machining cutting paths. When it comes to moving from a digital model to actual parts, Alibre Design is very helpful, as it has various export functions."

Quasar - optical tube assembly

And, another not altogether irrelevant question is “how is it going to look?” Alibre packages also offer the visualiztion tools that let designers see their models in high-fidelity materials and finishes.

“Especially valuable to us at the end of the process is KeyShot, a rendering program for photorealistic images which comes with Alibre Design. This generates high quality graphics of our virtual model that we can show the customer in advance of production,” says Heinle.

The transformation from functional parametric model to high quality image can be seen in Quasar Astrotech’s recent optical tube assembly featuring alumium parts, as well as its predominantly plastic beam-splitter component.

"Basically, Alibre Design contains everything in software that's important to us. By and large, it is very intuitive and easy to use. You can make a usable CAD part relatively quickly. If you already have experience in parametric design, say, by another system such as SolidEdge or SolidWorks, you can undertake projects in pretty much Alibre right away. The support team for the software, especially here in Germany, is very knowledgeable and helpful,” says Heinle. “And in terms of value for the money, Alibre offers a deal that is definitely unbeatable. That is why we as a staff went for this software and we would absolutely recommend it to other design studios."

Quasar - optical tube assembly

About Quasar-Astrotech
Quasar-Astrotech develops and manufactures professional system for astronomical telescopes creating solutions with attention to all aspects of functionality and design. Quasar-Astrotech specializes in precision mechanical components, including focusing systems, multi-function telescope controllers with professional software connection and the OTA-and-tube air-conditioning. For more information visit:

3D model▕ manufacturing drawings Alibre Design Expert 2011

About Alibre, Inc.
Alibre is the leading global provider of cost effective professional grade mechanical CAD, CAM, and PDM solutions. Founded in 1997, Richardson, Texas-based Alibre is led by Chairman and CEO J. Paul Grayson (previously CEO of Micrografx) and other graphics visionaries who are changing the landscape of 3D mechanical CAD/CAM software. Alibre develops Alibre Design™ and Alibre CAM™, the fastest growing parametric CAD/CAM solutions on the market. A small fraction of the cost of comparable software, Alibre Design offers the same core features as SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, and other mid-range solid modeling packages at a cost that is affordable to any business or individual. Alibre CAM extends Alibre Design to provide integrated 2 1/2 to 5 axis CNC machining. Used by an immensely diverse user base, Alibre Design and Alibre CAM provide design and manufacturing solutions to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, consulting firms, machine shops, start-ups, hobbyists, inventors, teachers and students. Alibre products are distributed in 50 countries and in 15 languages. For more information on Alibre, or for a free trial of Alibre Design and Alibre CAM, please visit All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.