MotionManager: Making Your Models Spin Instead of Your Head

My primary role with DASI is to educate our customers about the functionality of SolidWorks in order to help them accomplish their goals. My audience ranges from brand new SolidWorks users, to those who have been using the software for years. I would like discuss the differences between three options you will find in your SolidWorks MotionManager which may cause confusion. Those three options are: Animation, Basic Motion, and Motion Analysis (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - MotionManager: Animation, Basic Motion, and Motion Analysis

The MotionManager is the interface that allows users to interact with their SolidWorks model to create two kinds of outputs: (1) an animation and/or (2) kinematic/dynamic analysis results.

So now that we have a basic familiarity with the MotionManager, what about Animation, Basic Motion, and Motion Analysis?  What are these tools, and what makes them different from one another?

There are two types of changes which can be animated by the Animation option: (1) changing views/appearances and/or (2) changing component position. By dragging the camera or changing your view to a different view, Animation will create a transition (or “interpolation”) between these views or camera angles.  Similarly, if you drag a component from position A to position B, Animation will transition between these two positions to create an animation. There is even a wizard to help automate this process for rotating around your model and for creating exploded views.

Figure 2 - Motion Elements for Animation: Motor

Among the Motion Elements that you see on the MotionManager toolbar, the Motor is the only one available to users in Animation and can be used to drive motions linearly or rotationally (see Figure 2).
Play example of Animation tool

Basic Motion
For users who would like to show some limited physics in their model in the form of an animation, this is where Basic Motion can help. Basic Motion gives users access to motors, springs, contact, and gravity (see Figure 3) to help with driving motions in their assembly models.

Figure 3 - Motion Elements for Basic Motion: Motor, Springs, Contact, and Gravity

Just like with Animation, users can also animate changes in the view angle. Based on the functionality described above, it may seem that Basic Motion is just like Animation but with more functionality, but actually Basic Motion uses a different approach to creating animations. Rather than dragging parts around to position them and allowing the Animation mode to transition between these points, Basic Motion requires that you use more realistic conditions such as applying motors, mates, and other Motion Elements to drive the motions. In Basic Motion, the position is driven based on these conditions, not based on where you drag and drop the components like in Animation.
Play example of Basic Motion tool

Motion Analysis
SolidWorks Premium includes Motion Analysis with activation of SolidWorks Motion add-in. The Motion Analysis option in the MotionManager allows users to apply forces and real-world mechanical constraints to their model to simulate reality. All the simulation elements are available within SolidWorks Motion (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 - Motion Elements for Motion Analysis: Motors, Springs, Dampers, Forces, Contact, and Gravity

Motion Analysis uses the same principles as the Basic Motion option, but it gives users much more control over (1) controlled motion by allowing users to specify forces, springs and dampers; (2) constraints by allowing users to apply friction to various mates; and (3) collisions by allowing users to take material into account; and more.  Also, users with SolidWorks Simulation Professional have access to Event-based Motion which allows users to control motions based on events rather than based on time.

After calculating a Motion Analysis, users have access to a wide range of result types (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 – Motion Analysis result types

Play example of Motion Analysis tool

There are similarities and differences between these three options. All three of them can be used to generate animations to help communicate important aspects of your design, and all three of them also have the goal of improving your assemblies.

For a more in-depth look at SolidWorks Motion Tools, watch a recorded webinar at

Shaun Bentley


Shaun Bentley
DASI Solutions

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