How to Simplify Your Design Analysis with Connectors

Specifically, SOLIDWORKS connectors are purpose-built to allow you to simulate connections between components with easy-to-understand and use options.

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way”. This line can be found in movies like the 1964 hit Goldfinger and many modern favorites from Gone in Sixty Seconds, Little Man, Night at the Museum, and my personal favorite, Blindside. I often mumble this to myself while I am working on a project while using the wrong tool making the job harder than it needs to be. SOLIDWORKS Simulation will allow you to do some things the hard way, but often, there is an easy way.  Of course, you can do many of these without connectors, but that would be choosing the “Hard way”. Let’s review these connectors and discuss their use.

Connectors can be found by right-clicking on the connections folder in the study tree. The connectors that are available in that menu are dependent on the study type and geometry. There are currently 10 different connectors in SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2017.


Spring connectors will allow you to simulate Compression, Tension, and Compression Extension Springs without modeling the spring and adding all the complex contact conditions that may exist. Springs will allow you to define stiffness values as well as compressive and tension pre-loads to deepen your analysis results.

Spring Damper

Take advantage of springs to add a Spring Damper connector. This is a spring with stiffness values and an added Damping co-efficient. This is placed between 2 vertices on a model and used to dampen the effect of forces between 2 components.


Bolt connectors will allow you to connect models to each other or to the ground. This includes simulating Counterbore, Countersink, and standard bolts and screws. There is also an option for a bolt-to-ground. Defining the nut, pre-tensile forces, and the fastener strength data allows you to look much deeper into your fastener designs.


Pin connectors allow you to connect cylindrical faces or edges from 2 components. You can restrict the pin's translation or rotation. Just like springs and bolts, you can supply stiffness and strength values to size components for the scenario provided.


Bearing connectors simulate the transfer of forces between a shaft and a bearing. The way it transfers forces to a cylindrical contact surface is unique and requires some thought with this connector. You can use advanced options like flexible shafts and self-alignment conditions to better match real-world conditions.

Spot Weld

Connect 2 spots on overlapping parts with a Spot Weld connector. This will allow you to include the diameter of the spot weld. Vertices or reference points are used to position the locations of the spot welds.

Edge Weld

Edge Weld Connectors will allow for single or double-sided fillet or groove welds to be used as a basis for connecting components. Inputs include providing faces that you are welding together, and the connector will pick up on the intersecting edge. Weld sizing can include data from both the American Welding and European standards. Each standard allows for inputs such as weld size, strength, and safety factors.

Elastic Support

Elastic support connectors allow you to simulate a component connection to the ground. This connector will resist tensile and compressive forces by using stiffness parameters that can be entered. This can be used in place of modeling an elastic material or component between your product and the ground.


Rigid Connectors will lock the distance between 2 faces and remain constant while allowing them to deform as a group. This connector only requires 1 face from each component.


The Link Connector is similar to rigid, except we are using 2 reference points instead of faces. The reference points will always maintain the same distance from each other.

With these 10 connectors, you will be able to simplify how many steps it takes in SOLIDWORKS Simulation to set up a problem with any of these conditions. Many of these connectors extend the capabilities that fixtures provide by allowing stiffness and connector performance to be analyzed. It is important to remember that by removing components and fixtures from an assembly, you are simplifying the study by limiting the mesh elements necessary to solve, and you’re getting your answers quicker. At least when using simulation, you will know how to approach the question when faced with the “Easy way” or the “Hard way”.  If you are interested in more than an overview of connectors, check out the help and Knowledge base.