The WIYN Observatory is owned and operated by the WIYN Consortium, which consists of the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Yale University, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). The WIYN Observatory enables frontier astrophysical research through the design of astronomical instrumentation (such as an imager or spectrograph). The primary challenge is developing an instrument that delivers the image quality that the astronomy community requires while meeting the budgetary and schedule constraints of the project. Engineers have to be able to design, analyze, and produce fabrication drawings of the components of the instrument.
The WIYN Consortium chose SolidWorks software as its primary mechanical design software based on its reliability, ease of use, ease of learning, and reasonable price. SolidWorks Simulation was chosen based on its interface with SolidWorks CAD software. Predictable behavior when constraining sketches, three-file architecture, dynamic rotation, easy movement of part files from one assembly to another by dragging and dropping, and dissolving and forming subassemblies were some of the reasons why the consortium chose the products.
Researchers used the software to develop the One Degree Imager (ODI), a wide-field, giga-pixel camera slated for use on the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope located at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. During the project, designers and engineers shortened the design cycle by approximately 20%, saved up to $300,000 in development costs, and reduced drafting time by nearly 50%.