February, 2011 | CADD Edge Blog - Featuring SolidWorks 3D CAD Design Software

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Differences Between SimulationXpress and SolidWorks Premium

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I was recently asked to help a customer understand the differences between SolidWorks SimulationXpress and the simulation tools available in SolidWorks Premium.  Often people assume the difference is that with SimulationXpress you can analyze parts only and with SolidWorks Premium you can analyze assemblies.  Although true its a bit like saying that the difference between a hack saw and milling machine is the milling machine has a cord.  After about 10 minutes on the phone giving him the readers digest version of differences, he asked me if I had a data sheet or a web link I could point him to that had this spelled out. After some digging I found lots of materials comparing Simulation Premium to Xpress but not what I was looking for.  The best reference I could find was in the SimulationXpress help file. I distilled it down to a pdf that I sent over and I decided I would share it here. 

First the two products in a nutshell.

SolidWorks SimulationXpress

SolidWorks SimulationXpress is a first-pass analysis tool that comes with every SolidWorks package, giving you the ability to do basic stress analysis on individual parts. You can quickly determine effects of force and pressure, and generate reports to document results.

SolidWorks Simulation

Included with the SolidWorks Premium package, SolidWorks Simulation provides core simulation tools to test your designs and make the decisions to improve quality. The full integration creates a short learning curve and eliminates the redundant tasks required with traditional analysis tools. Component materials, connections, and relationships defined during design development are fully understood for simulation. Products can be tested for strength and safety, and the kinematics fully analyzed. Further, a wide variety of geometry types are supported so you can simulate the real world performance of solid, thin-walled, and structural features.

General Features in SolidWorks Simulation

  • You can analyze full assemblies and multibody parts, not just one component at a time. You can assign a different material for each component. A number of commands are available to simplify large assemblies.
  • Provides options for analyzing contacting components as part of stress analysis. You can assign component or local contact conditions to faces that are touching or have gaps between them. Friction and large displacement options are supported by contact analysis.

  • Simulation analyzes sheet metal and thin parts more efficiently. As the thickness gets smaller, a larger number of elements is required to model the part and SimulationXpress may fail to solve the problem. Simulation uses a small number of shell elements instead of a large number of tetrahedral elements to mesh thin parts. Shell elements efficiency do not deteriorate as the thickness gets smaller.

  • Simulation automatically derives beam cross-sections from solid geometry, detects joints, and applies loads and restraints.

  • Simulation provides options for mixing solid, shell, and beam elements in one study.

  • You can create many studies to represent what-if scenarios. Tools such as duplicate and drag and drop help you quickly define what-if scenarios. There is no restriction on the number studies you can create.

  • Simulation lets you define parameters and expressions to define input for analysis. Similar to using design tables to define configurations, Simulation uses analysis tables to define analysis table studies. You can then graph results of interest for various analysis table sets.

  • This tool, similar to the SimulationXpress wizard, guides you through the simulation process and provides you with interpretation of the results. By answering a series of questions, Simulation Advisor collects the necessary data, determines the proper study types, creates the studies automatically, and drives the interface.

  • Simulation sensors are integrated with SolidWorks and allow you to track Simulation results across one or more studies. You can set audio and visual alerts to compare tracked values to predefined thresholds. Sensors can track factor of safety data for connectors, stress, strain, displacement, connector forces, free body forces, thermal results, velocity, and acceleration.

Fixtures (aka Boundary Conditions) in SolidWorks Simulation

  • Apply fixtures to edges, vertices, and beam joints.

  • Specify a zero (no movement) or a prescribed value of displacement in any direction.

  • Specify symmetry conditions, allowing you to exploit symmetry by analyzing a portion of the model.

  • Specify a sliding condition where a planar or non-planar face can slide but cannot move in the normal direction.

  • Save common fixtures in an analysis library for future use.

Loads in SolidWorks Simulation

  • Apply pressure, either uniform or nonuniform, in any direction.

  • Apply loads with nonuniform distribution.

  • Apply gravitational or centrifigal (e.g., rotating machinery) loads.

  • Apply bearing or remote forces. Remote forces are applied at remote locations connected to the part with imaginary rigid links.

  • Import loads directly from SolidWorks Motion and SolidWorks Flow Simulation.

  • Define bearing, bolt, edge weld, elastic support, grounded bolt, pin, rigid, spot weld, spring, and spring-damper connectors.

  • Apply temperatures to different locations of the part. Changes in temperatures produce stresses in the part. These stresses are called thermal stresses. SolidWorks Simulation uses the temperature profile from a thermal study and performs thermal stress analysis.

  • Save common loads in an analysis library for future use.

Materials in SolidWorks Simulation

  • Define orthotropic and anisotropic materials.

  • Create your own material library or add new materials to the SolidWorks Materials library.

  • Define temperature-dependent material properties.

Analysis in SolidWorks Simulation

  • Specify different element sizes in different areas (mesh control) of the model. With this feature, you can specify smaller element sizes at important locations of your model to improve the accuracy of the results.

  • Choose from two different solvers to analyze different types and sizes of problems more efficiently.

  • Import loads from SolidWorks Motion without having to specify fixtures.

  • Use adaptive methods to automatically improve the accuracy of the solution for stress analysis.

Visualization in SolidWorks Simulation

  • Plot and list displacements, reaction forces, contact pressure, strains, and stresses in various directions. For example, stress plot options include stress in any direction, principal stresses, shear stresses, and stress intensity.

  • Generate section and iso plots to view results inside the model. Planar, cylindrical, and spherical cutting tools are available.

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  • Use the Factor of Safety wizard to assess the safety of your design and plot the factor of safety distribution. SolidWorks Simulation provides four different failure criteria for ductile and brittle materials.

  • Graph the results along any path.

  • Save the deformed model's geometry as a configuration in the current document or as new document, or save it as a new part or assembly.

  • Generate customizable study reports. You can include detailed results of displacements, strains, and stresses in your reports.

That ended up beinging longer than I planned.  If you still would like to know more about Simulation, attend  free Webinar on March 8th at 10 AM.  Jay will be covering Linear Stress Analsis, the core of SolidWorks Simulation.  Register now.


Get Your Ducks in a Row with SolidWorks Width Mate


describe the imageIn the past if you wanted center one component on another you often had to resort to reference geometry.  You would either design your parts symmetrically about a plane, or create a plane between down the center of the geometry.  This wasn't hard to do in SolidWorks, and with the new "Width" plane option its even easier.  But why bother when you can use the advanced "Width Mate?"  John's latest video shows you how the width mate can allow you to get your parts aligned correctly in SolidWorks even faster.

SolidWorks Electrical Routing Tutorial


I led a Hands On session down at SolidWorks World 2011 in San Antonio last month.  In it I led about 30 attendees through a basic Electrical Routing exercise.  Despite being the last session of the conference we had a full house and some folks just stuck around even though they didn't have a computer available.

Apologies to those whose computers did not function properly.  I tested two machines and assumed they were all set up the same way. describe the image  

I figured I would share the materials here as Routing Tutorials are few and far between.  In order to run it you'll need a SolidWorks 2011 Premium license.  Once you've downloaded the PowerPoint, open it up and you will find a zip folder on the first slide. Unzip the folder to your desktop and inside you'll find a docs folder with Word document you can print out for instructions.  Let me know what you think in the comments section or email me with questions.  If you think it would be helpful I could capture a video version and slap it up on our YouTube channel.

-Update-  The zip file in the power point doesn't work.  So I'd reccomend using the download from the SolidWorks World proceedings site.

World Presentations

Zip file with presentation.


Faster SolidWorks Assembly creation with Multi-Mate


With the holidays and preparations for SolidWorks World 2011, John took a little break from his weekly video tips.  With all that over he's back and this week he's got a nice overview of Mult-Mate. 

If you find yourself mating multiple objects to the same references in your assembly you should check out Multi-Mate.

Three Ways that SolidWorks EPDM Enables Regulatory Compliance

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For many businesses regulatory compliance is seen as a necessary evil.  ISO, RoHS, FDA regulation and others can add time and cost to a products lifecycle. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (EPDM) can ease the burden of ensuring compliance with these regulations.  Here are three of the top ways it does that for you:

A Single Repository for all Product Related Data

  By virtue of being integrated into Windows Explorer any file can be stored in a secure location with controlled user and group access.  Not just Design, but QA, Manufacturing, Marketing and any other department in your organization can store files related to your products.  Having a single source for all product data where every employee can be assured they know how to get the “latest revision” is a primary subject of many regulatory audits.

Documented & Repeatable Processes for the Approval and Release of CAD and all Windows Files

 Enterprise PDM features configurable workflows that allow for electronic approval, revisioning/change management, and traceability for all file types.  This traceability and audit trail goes beyond the files and the system tracks the setup of the software so the even changes to the EPDM processes are recorded. 

Electronic signatures that meet FDA CFR Part 11 Double Signature requirements

By entering a password during approval, EPDM ensures it is really you who is approving that change order and not someone who is on your computer.  In fact, EPDM is a part of many medical device customers’ FDA validation.

If you'd like to learn more about how SolidWorks Enterprise PDM can help you address your regulatory compliance challenges join us for an informative webcast on Tuesday February 8th at 3 pm.

Click here to register.

If you are interested in checking out our other upcoming webinars the full listing is available here.

Working With Imported Models in SolidWorks


SolidWorks World was great this year. I did a presentation on Monday about working with Imported models in SolidWorks. Despite the presentation being late in the afternoon, I still counted about 40 - 50 people attending! So thanks for all of you who were in my session; I thought it went really well (if you were there, leave me some feedback!)

 In case you missed it or want to get your hands on the slides and files you can download them here (The zip file is embedded on the first page of the powerpoint, because we can't post zips for download.) The presentation was about working with different import/export format types for working between CAD software and SolidWorks, and how to work with the imported data once it's been imported into SolidWorks. There were a ton of great questions and it was a really interactive session overall.

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If you're interested in working with imported models at all, this is a great starting point. It not only goes over the direct editing features like the Delete Face and Move Face commands, but explains the diferences between translation methods and each translator’s strengths and weaknesses.


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