Importing Animations into Visualize

Importing Animations into SOLIDWORKS Visualize

Using flexible sub-assemblies and the Mate Controller feature to create a Motion Study that can be exported from SOLIDWORKS into Visualize.

Since its 2017 release, there is a tool to import Motion Studies into Visualize Professional. Users are now able to utilise an Add-In within the SOLIDWORKS CAD interface. Using the Add-In is more efficient as there is no need to re-animate the assembly within Visualize. It also allows users to take advantage of features such as Mate Controller and flexible sub-assemblies.

Sub-assemblies are by default added to a main assembly as rigid components. The sub-assembly can move but the movement of internal components is blocked. To allow movement, rigid sub-assemblies can be made flexible.


Once you have modelled a suitable sub-assembly, you are able to add controlled movement using the Mate Controller feature. Mate Controller is a tool within SOLIDWORKS that lets users manipulate some mates within an assembly. These can be used to show a sequence of movements.

These saved positions can then be saved as animations which can be used in conjunction with Motion Studies. For more information on using Mate Controller, please see our Mate Controller blog.

In this assembly a mate to manipulate using Mate Controller needed to be added. An angle mate is added to control the rotation of the crankshaft part.

The Mate Controller sequence is then converted to a Motion Study using the Animation Wizard Feature.


After a Motion Study has been defined, it is easy to export it directly into SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional. There are currently several different types of supported Motion Studies:

  • Rigid body animations and motion studies
  • Appearance animations
  • Camera animations
  • Gravity motion studies

The export plus additional advanced export tools and options are found within the Visualize Add-In tab. Within the tool bar there are 4 main icons:


  • Export Simple – this icon allows the user to save a copy of the active model that it then loads into SOLIDWORKS Visualize. It uses the Appearance part grouping by default. Monitor File is disabled for a simple export.
  • Export Advanced – this icon allows the user to save a copy of the active model that it then loads into SOLIDWORKS Visualize. It uses the Automatic part grouping by default. Monitor File is enabled for live CAD updates. This is the recommended option for exporting animations and Motion Studies into Visualize Professional.
  • Update – this icon allows an export of the latest version of the active model which triggers an update in Visualize. (The icon will appear greyed out until a model has been exported using the Export Advanced tool).
  • Save Advanced – this will allow a user to save a copy of the model and Motion Study to a specified location. This can be imported into SOLIDWORKS Visualize at a later date. This would also be used is Visualize was installed to be used on another machine or by another user.


Appearance part grouping simplifies the CAD data by merging any part, feature or body with the same appearance. When merged they act like a single part, so a minimum part numbers are created. All groups and layers are ignored on import.

Automatic part grouping results in more parts, but better results for animations. This option aims to find the best combination of Layer/Appearance, Appearance/Layer, Layer and Appearance part grouping during the import process.

The Monitor File option will maintain a link to the SOLIDWORKS assembly CAD data. If a change is made to the original model, the Visualize project is able to reflect the changes.


The animation has been rendered with a fast render speed so is of a low quality. The materials are also not realistic – colours were added to the component to easily distinguish between the parts. However, the movement is clear as a test animation render. The render is then developed as needed to reach the desired outcome.