SimulationXpress vs. SolidWorks Simulation

Occasionally, I find that users are confused about the differences between some of the tools in SolidWorks, especially when it comes to “Xpress” tools. In this case, I wanted to provide users with simple examples of the differences between SimulationXpress and SolidWorks Simulation. This article assumes a basic familiarity with the concept of FEA (or structural simulation).

Before starting a Simulation

SimulationXpress can be found in the Tools pull-down among the other Xpress tools.  This tool is available in any seat of SolidWorks (see Figure 1).

SolidWorks Simulation can be found under Tools, Add-ins. This is included with SolidWorks Premium or a purchased seat of SolidWorks Simulation (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 – SimulationXpress (left); SolidWorks Simulation (right)


As far as boundary conditions are concerned, the process for setting up a simulation typically involves the following steps:

1)  Setting up fixtures
2)  Setting up external loads
3)  Setting up connections between bodies (if applicable)

In this article, we’ll see that SimulationXpress differs from SolidWorks Simulation nearly every step of the way.


In SimulationXpress, you have access to only one type of fixture called “Fixed Geometry”. It rigidly fixes faces only in order to restrain models.

In SolidWorks Simulation, you have a many more options for restraining models. I talked about a few of these in my last blog article, but an example of these options is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 -SimulationXpress fixtures (left); SolidWorks Simulation fixtures (right)

External Loads

External loads in SimulationXpress can be defined as Forces or Pressures to faces only. Again, more options are available in SolidWorks Simulation as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 - SimulationXpress external loads (left); SolidWorks Simulation external loads (right)

Even the options for Force and Pressure are limited in SimulationXpress. As an example, can you spot the differences between the options available for Force in Figure 4?

Figure 4 - SimulationXpress force propertymanager (left); SolidWorks Simulation force propertymanager (right)


Interconnections between components are non-existent in SimulationXpress since you can only simulate single body parts with this tool. On the other hand, SolidWorks Simulation allows you to simulate assemblies and multi-body parts (Figure 5).

Figure 5 - SimulationXpress parts only (left); SolidWorks Simulation parts and assemblies (right)

In SolidWorks Simulation you have access to the connections shown in Figure 6 below.

Figure 6 - SimulationXpress connections (left); SolidWorks Simulation connections (right)


There are also a variety of other differences with regards to meshing, result plots, and other options. Some examples of other limitations in SimulationXpress are that you cannot create mesh plots, apply mesh controls, use adaptive meshing techniques, probe specific points in the results, etc. This is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it should help give you a feel for the differences between these two tools.


Shaun BentleyShaun Bentley
DASI Solutions

2 Responses to SimulationXpress vs. SolidWorks Simulation

  1. Hi everyone. I’m learning Solidworks Simulation but I can’t use it because mesh failure diagnostics. You can help me?. Thanks a lot.

    • Shaun Bentley says:

      Hi Thai,
      I added a comment to the video you posted. Please see if my hunches are correct. It’s been awhile since I’ve tried running a Simulation in 2011, so we may have to try a few things until I can figure out what the problem may be.

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