Solidworks Visualize has a lot of tools in the way of animating your assembly, and it even can loop your animation automatically without making you manually create extra keyframes and animation steps. This can be extremely useful when you're trying to show the assembly exploding and coming back together.
To do this, we make use of Visualize's animation "loop" types. To find these loop options:
1. Create an Animation
2. Right Click on the Animation Ribbon that you'd like to loop and click on
3. In the Animation Properties manager, click on the "Loop" drop-down
menu to see your loop options
As we can see, there are four different types of Loop types. Let's go through them one by one.
A clamp loop is the default loop type selected for any created animation, and it essentially means your animation will NOT loop. Your animation will simply move from keyframe to keyframe sequentially, and once there are no more keyframes or your animation reaches the end of its timeline, all parts and models will stop moving.
We can see this action down below:
A looped animation will step through and record your keyframes sequentially and, when there are no more keyframes, will replay those keyframes in sequence until the end of the timeline.
Note that the end of my animation or timeline (denoted by the red "last frame" marker) extends past the last keyframe. This allows me to control how many loops I want this animation to go through and even allows me to create fractions of loops (i.e., a loop and a half).
Loop with Offset
A loop with offset is the same as a normal looped animation, however, at the end of every "replay," Visualize will offset the looped model's starting position to its last ENDPOINT. This essentially means that if you have a model moving in a straight line, an animation that's being looped with offset will show that model moving in a straight line forever until the end of the timeline.
We can see this below:
A mirror loop is a loop that causes models to move forward through its keyframes and then backward back to its starting position. This is very useful for animating assembly explosions or for bringing models exactly back to their starting position at the end of your animation.
You may have noticed that there's also an option to affect the "Loop Time" of your animation. This essentially allows you to speed up or slow down your loop speed. By default, this value is set to 0 (which means that Visualize won't attempt to speed up or slow down your loop at all), but you can change this to any value between 0 and the difference between your last keyframe and the end of your timeline.
For instance, let's see what happens if I extend my animation to a length of 6 seconds and make my loop time 4 seconds:
We can see that the loop time of 4 seconds has doubled the length of the time necessary for the mirror loop to move the model back to its original location. Playing around with the loop time can help you control exactly how you want your animation to feel and move.
Tips and Tricks
Cutting a Loop Short
When you extend the Loop Time of your animation, you'll see a cross-hatched version of your timeline bar extend outwards from your last keyframe.
You can selectively cut this up by simply manually adding extra keyframes during the animation's loop. Simply begin playing the animation and when your model loops back to a position that you want it to be in, stop the animation and add a keyframe. This will allow you then to selectively control the timing of your loop or even cut it short if you want to.
NOTE: If you do this, we'd recommend setting your loop type back to "Clamp," that way you have the most control over how your model is moving.
Individual Animation Loops
Remember that these animation loops are specific to each animation. That being said, they only affect one animation ribbon at a time. If you have multiple animations occurring in your project, you'll have to set the animation type for each one.
You don't have to do this one by one, however. If there are several animations that you'd like to set to the same animation loop type, you can simply select multiple animations by using the SHIFT+Click method or CTRL+Click method to highlight your animations. Then from there, just follow the same steps to create a looped animation.
If you're still having trouble looping your animations, feel free to contact Hawk Ridge Systems Technical Support at 877.266.4469 (US) or 866.587.6803 (Canada) or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.