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Lighting Engineering

1985 - 2003 Summary of Major Lighting Technology Programs

Since early 1985, Continental Design & Engineering has been involved in the creation of significant Intellectual Property for the Automotive Lighting Industry. Either as a creator of targeted R & D endeavors, the developer of new software systems, or as the innovator of numerous new lighting products for OEM vehicles, Continental has either led the way or been a direct participant in most of the lighting technology breakthroughs in the past 20 years. During the past two decades Continental has provided:

  • Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) Technology/Applications Development
  • CAD (Unigraphics & Corporate Graphics Systems) Training Systems
  • Optical Software Development/Programming
  • Photo-realistic product imaging from CAD
  • Optically Accurate "Night-Drive" Animations
  • Product Development & Engineering
  • Research & Development
  • Intellectual Property, Patent & Application Services
  • Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) for Product Development
  • Advanced Lighting Concept Development/Feasibility/Packaging Group
  • Technology for the Accelerated Development of Lighting Products
  • Quality Engineering
  • Contract Technical Staffing
  • Executive Recruiting

1985: Lighting Product Design & Engineering

Continental became a supplier of lighting engineering services in Anderson, Indiana. Federal changes in forward lighting regulations [Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard - FMVSS 108] in 1984 permitted replaceable bulb [aerodynamic] headlamps in U.S.A. for the first time. This permitted revolutionary changes in lighting designs.

Engineering and Design talent was recruited and trained by Continental to support scores of new vehicle lighting programs for General Motors Corporation. The Exterior Lighting [headlamps and signal lighting] Product Development group grew as Continental provided assistance with:

  • Product Development
  • Product Design
  • Lighting Program Engineering
  • Optical Engineering

1986-1988: Training & CAD Implementation

With GM changing to the CGS CAD system, Continental helped many Automotive Suppliers migrate to the new CGS system by creating an entirely new CGS training system for CAD designers. This training system was so successful at Guide that Electronic Data systems (EDS) certified it for use throughout GM, and EDS later utilized the Continental CGS training system throughout the greater Detroit area. Graduates from these classes enabled Guide to migrate from the traditional manual drafting system to the CGS electronic CAD software.

The Continental CGS CAD training classes proved such a success that Continental gifted these training systems to the community colleges in the Detroit area. Continental trained the instructors and donated their training materials to the curricula of the 2- and 4-year college degree programs at the following colleges:

  • Mott Community College [Flint, Michigan]
  • Oakland Community College [Rochester, Michigan]
  • Oakland Community College - Orchard Ridge [Farmington, Michigan]
  • MacComb Community College [Warren, Michigan]

This was later followed by a the development of a second Continental CAD training system, that followed the GM migration to a new CAD software for product development: Unigraphics. Again, Continental created its own Unigraphics training system, that included training manuals and certified UG CAD instructors.

1986-1992: Lighting Value Engineering

CDE was able to redesign components for many lighting products that resulted in over $100 million in cost savings. These included a wide range of new product developmental designs that:

  • Simplify Assembly Operations - Labor Savings
  • Reduce Scrap and Improve Quality - Error Proofing
  • Combine Multiple Parts into Single Components -- piece price reductions
  • Eliminated Steps -- Eliminate Adhesives with snap-fit designs

1986-2001: Lighting Research & Development

Continental has helped create Automotive Lighting R & D groups for many clients that sustained the rapidly expanding forward lighting products for North American automotive manufacturers.

Over the past 19 years, the creation of Intellectual Property in the products, designs and engineering of automotive lighting has been one of Continental's strengths.

Continental's technical personnel have been awarded significant Intellectual Property for Guide that includes:

  • 50+ Patents
  • Trademarks and Corporate Logos
  • Copyrights
  • Trade Secrets
  • Intellectual Property Technical Disclosures
  • SAE Technical Papers

1988-1996: Computer-Aided-Engineering

Continental created a Computer-Aided-Engineering [CAE] group between 1988 - 1996 that was able to product CAE simulations with a high degree or correlation (99%) for the following lighting componentry tests:

  • Mechanical stress [300,000 miles of driving]
  • Moisture Intrusion
  • Plastic Mold Flow Technology
  • Thermodynamic Analysis
  • Headlamp Aiming, Aim Deflection
  • Other FMVSS 108 Mechanical Requirements

This dedicated CAE group included an off-site, fully "bundled" service of facilities, computer hardware & software, and CAE personnel for an eight-year period.

From its inception, and continuing to this day, this CAE technology has resulted in millions of dollars of annual savings in prototype parts and tooling costs. It has significantly reduced product development time, led to numerous Society of Automotive Engineer [SAE] technical papers, and been awarded trade secret status.

1991: Optical Design System Software

Continental provided engineering support for the creation of a fully-automated Optical Software System (ODS) capable of creating a wide range of headlamp optical "prescriptions" which met all U.S. government headlamp optical requirements.

This software brought optical engineering into the Twentieth Century, and has been awarded trade secret protection as a key proprietary technology. This also helped to develop a new lighting technology where the optical pattern was placed in the reflector (reflector optics) surface instead of on the headlamp lens (lens optics). Dynamic new headlamp styling was now possible in dramatically shorter periods of time.

1993 - 1999: "Night Drive" Simulations & Animations

Continental took the animation software [Alias/MAYA] utilized by Stephen Spielberg for the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park, and applied that simulation technology to forward lighting.

With this software, Continental provided two stunning new technologies.

The first permitted the creation of a photographically precise [35 mm quality] picture of any lighting product, with only CAD data available.

In the second application, Continental engineers created a dynamic night drive road scene that simulated a short movie of what a driver would actually see as if driving at night.

The intent was to show the Design Studios at any customer location what different qualities of headlamps would actually look like at night under real driving conditions. Optical patterns were well understood by optical engineers, but these meant little to normal drivers [non-technical drivers]. This software actually "showed" an animated simulation of what a driver could/could not see, and how well the driver would see at night.

A key technical development by Continental was the creation of a special proprietary optical translator that imported actual headlamp optics and put that data into the movie. This Photo-Realistic technology was considered valuable enough that in 1999, it was awarded Trade Secret Status.

1998-2002: Advanced Product Development Group

Continental created a Detroit based Advanced Product Group [centrally located in Troy, Michigan for strategic access to Ford, Chrysler and GM Tech Centers] to provide customer design and engineering support for the Guide Sales group in Detroit. Technically referred to as "Packaging", this activity includes the engineering and designing of lighting components in restricted or limited spaces, in support of the clay modelers in the Design Studios.

Continental created a dedicated team of 20 experienced designers and engineers who went into the Advanced Design Studios of the "Big 3" to represent and support Sales Teams and help create lighting product designs. This bundled service included technical personnel, all the major CAD platforms [Pro-E, Catia, SDRC, Unigraphics], a Design & Engineering Center, Lighting Product Displays and Customer Meeting/Conference rooms.

2000: Guide Fast Forward Lighting Technology

Continental helped Guide create and market to prospective lighting customers "Fast Forward" Technologies. These included packaging many proprietary technologies created by Continental Design that reduce product development time and dramatically improve quality. These technologies enabled Guide to be the only lighting company in the world who could claim that in thirty days it could:

  • Start with any clay model of a vehicle
  • Create a fully workable CAD design of the lighting components
  • Create a photo-realistic simulation of that product
  • Simulate in CAE all major required government tests, and
  • Create a night drive movie of the headlamp.



Ultimately, customer satisfaction is measured by a company's overall growth and financial success. Over the past 20 years Continental has created a Technology Specialty in Exterior Automotive Lighting Engineering. There is no other engineering firm in the world that possesses the lighting expertise and capabilities of Continental Design & Engineering.

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