We are designing car headlight reflectors. The most important thing that we need to do is to design the curvature of the reflector so that all the light from bulb is reflected onto a specific and small part of road on front.

As soon as we have achieved light reflection simulation, we'll have to keep tweaking the reflector shape to achieve desired result.

Initially I tried doing it in SketchUp with a plugin that can simulate reflection of a light rays. But as per designers in our team, it's a very basic software and difficult to design in it.

Our designers have tried simulating reflection in Maya. But couldn't do it.

Can anyone please guide us on which software to use to simulate light reflection and design the reflector.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • If you are looking for purely a 3D, dynamic solution, this may be off topic here.
    – Scott
    May 5 '13 at 17:42
  • I'm sorry if this is off topic. I've asked here nearly out of desperation. Hopefully someone can guide us. May 5 '13 at 19:01
  • 2
    Does that mean you are strictly looking for a 3D solution?
    – Scott
    May 5 '13 at 21:35
  • 1
    I don't do 3d modeling, but I expect that you'd have a parabolic mirror with a single omnidirectional light source rendered with raytracing. All of this is built into Maya is it not? Is it too inaccurate?
    – horatio
    Nov 13 '13 at 20:53
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    I'm voting to close this since it's an engineering / product design question, not graphic design.
    – Luciano
    Feb 20 '20 at 9:34

In seeking a software to model light in a reflector assembly, i stumbled upon this question and in the same search effort, I have learned about ReflectorCAD and a handful of other related softwares from http://www.breault.com. So I thought I'd share what I've learned. Nearly 7 years later. Hopefully a satisfactory answer. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I'm in no way affiliated with Breault Research Organization, Inc. or any related efforts beyond my interest in what their software is capable of.

  • Breault Research Organization (BRO) - seriously? Joke aside, nice finding such a specific software.
    – Luciano
    Feb 20 '20 at 9:36

i know this is an old topic but i would like to suggest using Cinema 4D, i have worked a lot using this software initially to have great light effects and realistic .

Hope this will help you


Cinema4D, Modo, After Effects, POV-Ray / YafaRay / MegaPOV are the things that come to my mind.


This is a really old post, probably because people are not designing reflectors (for bulbs) anymore, but using Led lights. But let me explore the point.

To simulate light path you do not need only a modeling software, you need a rendering one.

So, first of all I would use parametric modeling software, to make small adjustments not moving vertex, but moving parameters of curvature.

And using a photorealistic render engine, especially software specialized in light beams. One that comes to my mind is Thea render

Light Simulation A strong mathematical framework that has led to a very robust unbiased core. It can be also considered as a light simulation tool, performing calculations in the full visible spectral space and including advanced phenomena like volumetric scattering and spectral dispersion.



Have you thought of using Microsoft excel? It is a long process but the number can help with imaging on the mind where the light exists; additional help comes from the knowledge that number can be used with understanding the user as an adapter and accomodator of reflected light radiation.

Will ensure you do not lose sight of articulating the reflector to that of the observer, which is why you are building this for in the first place.

  • 1
    Please explain how on earth Excel is appropriate for this??
    – benteh
    Jan 28 '16 at 9:02

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