Authored By

Jacob Hart


This article explains the installation and licensing process for OpticsBuilder. OpticsBuilder uses the Zemax License Manager to manage access to License Administrators and End Users. Installation of the Zemax License Manager and OpticsBuilder software is discussed, as well as troubleshooting issues an End User could encounter. The Zemax Setup Troubleshooter tool is introduced as a new tool to analyze an End User computer and highlight installation and licensing issues.


OpticsBuilder uses a shared network license installed on a keyserver to manage license access. License Administrators install the Zemax License Manager and OpticsBuilder license on the keyserver and assign licenses to End Users on End Users install the OpticsBuilder software to access licenses on any computer in the keyserver network.

In single user situations, the keyserver can be on the same computer as OpticsBuilder. 

After reading this article administrators and users of OpticsBuilder will have a clear understanding of the process for installation and licensing of OpticsBuilder along with approaches to mitigate problems encountered along the way.

If you are the license administrator and have recieved an OpticsBuilder activation code, start at OpticsBuilder License installation.

If you have received an email notice that you have been assigned an OpticsBuilder license but NOT an activation code, move to the End User OpticsBuilder installation section to install OpticsBuilder on your client machine. 

OpticsBuilder License installation

Before begining installation, there are some preliminary actions you need to take. The License Administrator of OpticsBuilder will receive an email with license activation information and an email invitation to complete registration on The License Administrator will also need to add End Users to the OpticsBuilder license on 

Registration on gives all users:

  • Access to software downloads
  • The ability to submit support cases 
  • Access to the user forum
  • Access to Knowledgebase articles

First steps – License Administrator

OpticsBuilder is sold as a multi-user or shared network license. The License Administrator for a license is responsible for managing license access via End Users on The first steps for License Administrators to manage licenses are:

  1. Receive licensing email with license number and activation code. 
  2. Receive Myzemax invitation email, and complete registration on If you did not receive a Myzemax invitation, you may already have an account. You can request a password reset from the Sign In page on 
  3. Add End Users as Colleagues on Assign Colleagues as End Users of the new license. See the MyZemax FAQ for help adding Colleagues and assigning End Users 

Be sure to complete all 3 steps above before proceeding! 


Installation scenarios

There are two scenarios for network use of OpticsBuilder licenses. The activation process requires Internet access. 


Network server activation

Most installations will install Zemax LIcense Manager (ZLM) located on a server machine accessible to the company network. This scenario uses a server machine to activate and manage the license for client machines. This approach only requires a Windows machine to install the Zemax LIcense Manager on. It does not require a CAD package such as SOLIDWORKS or Creo. Supported OS versions are 64 bit Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008 R2 Sp1, Server 2012 R2 or higher Windows Server OS.  All OS versions are required to have Microsoft .NET 4.6.2 or newer as well. NOTE: The activation process requires Internet access. 













1. If an organization has any other Zemax software network licenses such as Opticstudio on an existing server, they likely have a version of the Zemax License Manager (ZLM) installed. However, any ZLM with a build date before January 2020 that is present on a host machine must be updated before activating the OpticsBuilder license. This new ZLM can be downloaded and installed from the OpticsBuilder Downloads page. You may upgrade the existing ZLM version to the newest upon installation. 

2. After installing the ZLM, activate the license. Note that the activation process requires Internet access. The License Administrator enters the license number, activation code, and their login information into the ZLM "New License" tab as shown below.










3. After activation, the ZLM will show available licenses for OpticsBuilder in the View License tab. The License Administrator should verify that the correct product name, expiration date and number of license seats are displayed.

This is a good time to read the Zemax License Policies page, with details on how the licensing works, license backup, avoiding license loss, and the lost license policy. 



4. If they haven't done so already, the License Administrator should login to, and add End Users to the license. 

5. At this point, your End Users can install OpticsBuilder on their client machines, per the End User OpticsBuilder Installation section. 


Local license activation

Some users may choose to have a single network license installed locally on their machine rather than share it on a server. The general steps for local license users to manage licenses are:

  • Receive licensing email with license number, activation code and Opticsbuilder download link 
  • Complete registration with
  • Download and install OpticsBuilder 
  • Activate license. Note that the activation process requires Internet access. 

1. Download OpticsBuilder and launch the installer. This requires a CAD package be installed on the same machine OpticsBuilder is installed on along with administrator rights.  

2. After successful installation of OpticsBuilder, the Zemax License Manager (ZLM) will open the New License page to activate the OpticsBuilder license. Enter the license number, activation key as received by email, as well as the login information.

Tip: The activation process requires Internet access, and licenses may only be activated one time.



3. After license activation in the ZLM, you should see a single seat of OpticsBuilder available for use.

Tip: This is a good time to read the Zemax License Policies page, with details on how the licensing works, license backup, avoiding license loss, and the lost license policy. 

4. You may then exit the ZLM and launch your CAD package to verify it works. If you get the error "Unable to start Opticstbuilder. Would you like to run the Zemax Troubleshooter?" when starting your CAD package, see the Troubleshooting licenses section below. 

If everything works, this process is complete! If you need to transfer the license to another user in the future, instructions are available in this article. Note that the License Administrator also needs to be sure the person that will receive the license transfer is an End User of the license. That allows them to be able to complete the transfer. See the Myzemax FAQ .


End User OpticsBuilder installation

After the License Administrator adds End Users to and assigns the license to them, the End Users will receive:

  • An email invitation to register on (if not already registered)
  • A license assignment notification email

1. After receiving the above the end user can download and install OpticsBuilder from the OpticsBuilder Downloads page. Note that OpticsBuilder requires SOLIDWORKS versions 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020 or Creo versions 4, 5 or 6. You also need administrator rights for a successful installation. 

2. Follow the steps in the installation routine. At the end of installation, the Zemax License Manager will automatically open. Open the "View License" tab. 

  • If you do see an OpticsBuilder license, you may close the Zemax License Manager and launch your CAD software. End Users will be prompted to enter their username (email address) and password to use the OpticsBuilder license. You are done! 
  • If you do not see an Opticsbuilder license, or get an error such as "Unable to start OpticsBuilder. Would you like to run the Zemax Troubleshooter?" when starting your CAD package, see the Troubleshooting licenses section below. 


OpticsBuilder software support

CAD software - supported versions

OpticsBuilder is an add-in that supports SOLIDWORKS versions 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 and Creo versions 4, 5, and 6.


Windows support

OpticsBuilder supports 64-bit versions of Windows 7 SP1, 8.1, and 10. Windows Server 2012 64-bit Standard Edition is also supported. Windows 7 no longer receives product support from Microsoft, SOLIDWORKS, or PTC as of January 2020.


OpticsBuilder licensing FAQ

Can OpticsBuilder be used offline with a keyserver?

Yes. End Users of a network license of OpticsBuilder may check out a license for offline use by clicking Check Out in the Zemax License Manager. A checked out license seat for OpticsBuilder will be available offline for the number of days specified by the network License Administrator on the server. More information for license administrators to enable license check out on the license keyserver can be found here.


Can OpticsBuilder be installed offline?

Yes. Users that need to install and use OpticsBuilder offline should request a red USB hardkey. The hardkey acts as a portable OpticsBuilder license and shows up in the ZLM as a hardware license when plugged into a computer’s USB port.

For offline installation the user must manually install DirectX 9.0c and Microsoft .NET  (Microsoft .NET 4.6.2 is linked but newer versions are compatible). These programs are normally downloaded and installed during OpticsBuilder installation.


How do I manage network access and logging of shared licenses?

The Sentinel Admin Control Center (SACC) is the administration interface used by the ZLM on a license server to manage the license, access logging, and troubleshoot licenses for OpticsBuilder. The SACC may be accessed by clicking the Launch Sentinel Admin Control Center link on the Troubleshoot page. This opens the graphical interface for SACC. More information on using the Sentinel Admin Control Center on a key server can be found here.




Troubleshooting licenses

If there is a problem using a license in the ZLM the message below will be displayed during loading of the OpticsBuilder add-in.

 Unable to start Opticstbuilder. Would you like to run the Zemax Troubleshooter?


Zemax Setup Troubleshooter

Selecting Yes in the dialog box will open the Zemax Setup Troubleshooter (ZST). The ZST collects installation and licensing information from a user’s computer. The ZST may also be run manually by opening the ZemaxTroubleshooter.exe file from the OpticsBuilder installation directory, typically C:\Program Files\OpticsBuilder. The ZST dialog box is shown below.



The ZST lets users see errors in OpticsBuilder and supporting software. When the ZST is opened after a license error or manually by the user the ZST automatically scans the user system and presents results from the scan. A working installation of OpticsBuilder should show all boxes checked in the ZST, except for absence of CAD software that the user doesn’t use. The .NET version and the presence of ZemaxServer.exe should both be listed as Yes.

The ZST enables the user to send information to OpticsBuilder support with results of the ZST by clicking Send Email in the lower left corner of the ZST. Please note, the ZST sends another file directly to support with in-depth information regarding your computer and OpticsBuilder installation to help with troubleshooting.


What to do if the ZLM license manager is inaccessible

If the ZLM license manager shows as inaccessible the user should reinstall OpticsBuilder. If reinstallation doesn’t resolve the problem the user should email OpticsBuilder support. If a license stops appearing in the ZLM sometime after license activation, first make sure you are on a client machine attached to the same network as the license. If so then see the section What to do if the key service isn’t running?


What if the HASP DLL doesn’t exist?

The existence of the HASP DLL ensures that the keyserver is operating correctly. If the HASP DLL checkbox is empty, there are two ways to resolve this. 

1.  Open the Troubleshoot tab in Zemax License Manager and select "Check HASP Drivers". Say "Yes" or "Allow" to any popups. You should get two "ok" status messages if successful. 

2. The user can reinstall the HASP DLL by opening OpticsBuilder_Prerequisites.exe, located in the OpticsBuilder installation directory, typically C:\Program Files\OpticsBuilder


What to do if the key service isn’t running?

The keyserver operation is dependent on the Sentinel LDK service running correctly in Window and will prevent a license from appearing. If the Key Service Running box isn’t checked in the ZST then the user should restart the Sentinel LDK service.

There are two options to ensure the Sentinel LDK service is running.

1.  Open the Troubleshoot tab in Zemax License Manager and select "Check HASP Drivers". Say "Yes" or "Allow" to any popus. You should get two "ok" status messages if successful. 


2. Navigate to Windows Start and search the term "services.msc." This will launch the Services window. In the Services window, locate Sentinel LDK License Manager from the list. <Right-click> on Sentinel LDK License Manager and select Restart. If Restart is unavailable, select Start instead.


What if I have problems with the .NET framework?

The Microsoft .NET Framework is normally updated to version 4.6.2 or later during OpticsBuilder installation for OpticsBuilder to function correctly. If a user receives any errors about the .NET Framework during operation, they should first check if the ZST shows that the .NET Framework meets the minimum version specification. Errors have been reported with OpticsBuilder operation when the .NET Framework update option is locked by a system administrator. To manually check the .NET Framework version follow instructions on this Microsoft page.

Language localization settings in Windows can also cause issues with the .NET Framework. Specific problems causing ray trace errors have been encountered when using “,” instead of “.” for a decimal character in Windows. To change localization settings in Windows when logged in with Administrative privileges:

  1. Open Control Panel
  2. Select Region or Region and Language
  3. Select the Administrative tab
  4. Select Change system locale
  5. Choose a language
  6. Restart your computer


Why is the ZemaxServer.exe file missing?

Some Anti-virus programs view the ZemaxServer.exe file in the OpticsBuilder installation directory as a threat and quarantine it. Without the ZemaxServer.exe file present the ZLM does not work. This has happened with McAffee, Windows Defender, and other anti-virus software. If the ZemaxServer.exe file is quarantined users should restore the item from their anti-virus quarantine.

  • To restore quarantined files in McAfee the user should refer to the following instructions
  • To restore quarantined files in Windows Defender the user should refer to the following instructions.


How to check the DirectX version

The Zemax Setup Troubleshooter doesn’t check the installed version of DirectX. To manually check the DirectX version installed on a user computer type dxdiag into the Windows search bar located next to the start button. The minimum version of DirectX that works with OpticsBuilder is DirectX 9.0c, which is automatically downloaded and installed with OpticsBuilder. 


The file hash is showing file errors. What do I do?

The bottom of the Zemax Setup Troubleshooter shows file hash information about files in the OpticsBuilder installation directory. Scanning file hashes ensures that all required OpticsBuilder files are present and correct. If errors are shown for file hashes, this indicates critical files are missing from the installation and the user should send an email to OpticsBuilder support.


OpticsBuilder isn’t starting in my CAD package. What should I do?

Make sure that the OpticsBuilder add-in is activated in your CAD package.

In SOLIDWORKS the add-in menu may be accessed by navigating to Tools…Add-Ins. Check the boxes to the left and right of the OpticsBuilder add-in to activate OpticsBuilder and enable automatic activation when the next session of SOLIDWORKS is started.


To activate OpticsBuilder in Creo for a single session:

  1. Go to Tool...Utilities...Auxilliary Applications
  2. Highlight OpticsBuilder
  3. Select Register
  4. Navigate to C:Program Files\OpticsBuilder
  5. Select Opticsbuilder.dat to register OpticsBuilder
  6. Select Start to start the OpticsBuilder add-in in Auxilliary Applications



OpticsBuilder should load within 20 seconds and copy some files to your Documents folder the first time it is opened. 

To register OpticsBuilder in Creo automatically at the start of every session:

  1. Open Notepad as administrator
  2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\PTC\Creo 5.0\M020\Common Files\text (or similar location for your version of Creo)
  3. In the file type dropdown, change the file type from Text Documents to All Files
  4. Scroll down to and open the file
  5. At the end of the text file, copy and paste the following line (modify path for your version of OpticsBuilder): PROTKDAT C:\Program Files\OpticsBuilder\OpticsBuilder.dat

This article showed users how to successfuly install and activate the Zemax License Manager and OpticsBuilder. Users may use this article as a guide to troubleshoot issues found during installation and licensing, as well as how to manage License Administrators and End Users using the Zemax License Manager.