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).
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 SimulationXpress, you have access to only one type of fixture called “Fixed Geometry”. It rigidly fixes faces only in order to restrain models.
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?
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).
In SolidWorks Simulation you have access to the connections shown in Figure 6 below.
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.