SOLIDWORKS: Simulation Vs. SimulationXpress

SOLIDWORKS Simulation Software – the difference you need to know

If you own a SOLIDWORKS Standard or Professional software package, you are probably aware that your package includes SimulationXpress.  This begs the question – when you already have SimulationXpress, why invest in SOLIDWORKS Simulation? Isn’t it enough to use what SOLIDWORKS has considerately provided within your software package? The fact is, there is a vast difference between SOLIDWORKS SimulationXpress and SOLIDWORKS Simulation Software. While you might have SimulationXpress, you could still benefit from SOLIDWORKS’ Simulation Software.

What is SimulationXpress?

In a nutshell, SimulationXpress is SOLIDWORKS’ solution to a first pass stress analysis – a fundamental stress analysis on each of the individual parts of your design. It is a free tool that tests each part’s safety and ensures your design is 100% satisfactory.

By running an analysis with SimulationXpress, you can quickly and easily determine the effects of pressure and force on each part. You can also determine whether your design exerts too much load in certain areas that could lead to breakage.

If there are discrepancies in your design, you can quickly and easily make the necessary changes to improve your design.

Once SimulationXpress finishes running a stress analysis on your design, you can just as easily create reports and document your results.

The most significant benefit of this built-in design verification tool is that you can test radical new designs before creating a physical prototype. This means you save material, money, and time. More importantly, it helps you reduce time-to-market overall.

Is SimulationXpress the same as SOLIDWORKS Simulation?

SimulationXpress uses the same simulation technology as SOLIDWORKS Simulation to perform stress analysis. Its wizard interface uses some elements of the Simulation interface to help guide you through running simulations successfully and then viewing the results. Still, what you get with Xpress is just a taste of the real thing.

The Differences at a Glance

  • SimulationXpress is a free built-in tool available with all SOLIDWORKS software packages, but SOLIDWORKS Simulation software is not free.
  • SimulationXpress is merely an introductory version of SOLIDWORKS Simulation software. It does not have all the same capabilities as the SOLIDWORKS Simulation line of products.
  • The SimulationXpress tool supports single, solid body analysis. You cannot run a study of assemblies, surface bodies, or multi-body parts.
  • With SimulationXpress, you can only rigidly fix models by faces, which could lead to rather artificially stiff models.
  • There is only one mesh (Global) available with SimulationXpress, which means longer solution times.
  • SimulationXpress is limited to just three output plots – displacement, stress, and factor of safety and you have little control over these plots. With the SOLIDWORKS Simulation software package, you are given more control of the study results.

Here’s a quick look at all the capabilities of SimulationXpress.

  • Part analysis
  • Stress analysis
  • Optimization analysis with a single variable and criterion.
  • Analysis management with a simulation study tree
  • Isotropic materials
  • Uniform pressure and force on faces
  • Fixed restraints on faces. Fixtures are limited to fixed faces.
  • Stress contour plot-equivalent stress
  • Deformation plot
  • Factor of safety calculation and plot.
  • Generate reports
  • Publish eDrawings of the analysis results
  • Animate and save as AVI

When to switch to SOLIDWORKS Simulation Software

SimulationExpress is a light version of mind-blowing Simulation software package from SOLIDWORKS. It’s a quick and easy way to do some basic analysis of your design in the very early stages to ensure your design is on the right track; but this is just a free tool and has severe limitations. Here are some instances when Simulation Add-ons or investing in a full Simulation package (either Standard, Premium, or Professional) is a better option.

  • If you need to test whole assemblies.
  • When interactions and stresses between two or more components is critical.
  • When you require advanced fixtures (rollers/sliders, elastic joints, etc.)
  • If you require advanced load conditions (bearing loads, torque, etc.)
  • For precise results in critical areas with mesh control.
  • If you require additional tools to interpret your data.
  • When you want to optimize more than one variable at a time.

Here are some capabilities of the SOLIDWORKS Simulation software package that are not available in SimulationXpress:

  • Fatigue simulation
  • Trend tracker
  • Frequency simulation (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Buckling simulation (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Thermal simulation (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Drop test simulation (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Pressure vessel simulation (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Event-based motion (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Advanced design optimization (Simulation Professional and Premium)
  • Non-linear simulation (Simulation Premium)
  • Dynamic simulation (Simulation Premium)
  • Composite analysis (Simulation Premium)

SOLIDWORKS SimulationXpress is a fantastic free tool if you want a preview of what Simulation can do. However, when you need to test complete assemblies or test more variables, you will require the more robust and complete SOLIDWORKS Simulation software package.

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