Catia vs SolidWorks

Do you know that Catia and SolidWorks were actually made by the same company? Yes, both Catia and SolidWorks are computer-aided design (CAD) software application developed by Dassault Systemes. We discussed about the differences between AutoCAD and SolidWorks in a previous article, but you are probably wondering right now why a company produces two CAD software applications in the first place. Below, we are going to see about Catia and SolidWorks and how they are different to each other to help you determine which is the one that will suit your needs best.

The General Differences
According to the manufacturer, SolidWorks is a solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software application. The product has been designed solely for the Microsoft Windows platform – thus, if you are using a non-Windows device, you need to find a roundabout. On the other hand, Catia is actually an acronym of “computer-aided three-dimensional interactive application”. It is a multi-platform software suite for computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), 3D modeling, and product lifecycle management (PLM). It may consist of a server program and a client program. While the server program can run on Windows, Linux, or AIX, the client program can only run on Windows.

SolidWorks is purely only for designing the product. Of course, SolidWorks is generally easier to use and more user-friendly because the features aren’t as complex. SolidWorks is typically used by industry workers who only need to design. Meanwhile, based on the definitions above, we can already notice that Catia is a much more comprehensive product than SolidWorks. If you need something that can help you plan and manage multiple stages of product development, Catia is the way to go. You can say that, with Catia, you can design not only a vehicle, but also the factory that will produce the vehicle, the machining processes, and even the ergonomics simulations. You can simulate everything in a virtual environment.

Automotive and aerospace industries, which make very heavy use of engineering, mechanical CAD, and simulation software, typically use Catia. However, you can still do the designing of the smaller parts in SolidWorks, and import the files to Catia later by saving them as .STEP. (Read also : SolidWorks vs Inventor)

Going A Little Bit More Detailed
One important distinguishing aspect is the geometry kernel and the associated software pieces, such as programming/customization APIs and specialized modules. SolidWorks utilizes the Parasolid geometry kernel, which is generally a mid-range solid modeling software package. It has various quick functions that can streamline various engineering tasks, but it focuses only on solid modeling – just one aspect of the whole production process. It lacks more robust hybrid modeling capabilities.

On the other hand, Catia comes with extensive API capabilities, data management, visualization, and multi-CAD capabilities for managing larger and more complex assemblies. For the aerospace industry, there are many specialized modules for wiring, sheet metals, composite materials, and designing electrical raceways, conduits, and wave guides. For the automotive industry, there is a specialized tool for handling the so-called class A surfaces.

- Much more comprehensive with multi-CAD and PLM capabilities- For computer-aided design and engineering
- The server can run on Windows, Linux, or AIX; the client only runs on Windows- Only runs on Windows
- More complex and powerful features- Relatively simpler and more user-friendly
- Use if you need to handle multiple production stages or large, complex assemblies- Use for solid modeling, designing the small parts of an assembly

Dassault Systemes has produced SolidWorks and Catia for different purposes. If you only need something for solid modeling, SolidWorks is the way to go. SolidWorks is relatively simpler and more user-friendly. However, what you need is a more robust and comprehensive multi-CAD software suite for handling multiple stages of product development and a complete simulation in a virtual environment, Catia is the way to go.

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