In today’s engineering environment, there are a plethora of design tools available. One question I often hear is “Why CATIA?” It’s a question that seems simple enough, but the answer is much more complex. CATIA generally involved a greater initial investment, but in terms of overall design cost, you may be surprised to learn that a CATIA license can be a real bargain.
Ask: “What are we trying to accomplish?”
What type of design work are you doing? Do you require the ability to create complex surfaces? Are you going to create a small number of models and small assemblies or will there be a large number of models and large assemblies? Are you sharing the models with customers or vendors? Do you start every design from scratch or reuse as much data as possible?
The list of questions above is certainly not complete, but you can see by the number of questions already posited, the answer is multifaceted.
Let’s look at the creation of complex surfaces. Many CAD systems can create surfaces of some level, but what if your company needs to create complex shapes? Look at how many CAD systems can create complex surfaces, and the list gets shorter – much shorter. Next, how many systems can modify complex surfaces? One example of this is the actual morphing of a complex surface. One might use this ability to compensate for springback in a metal stamping or counteract warpage in a plastic part. Now the list is much shorter. CATIA can easily handle these operations.
Next let’s look at large assemblies – something on the order of 500-1,000+ models. While virtually all systems can create assemblies, what happens when these assemblies get very large? Can the system handle them? How are you going to manage these assemblies? Is the system still able to operate or has its performance degraded to the point that it is virtually unusable? CATIA can handle very large assemblies, entire automobiles, aircraft, ships, etc. With CATIA V6 the management of these models is OOTB. Again the list is short at this point.
Lastly, let’s look at data reuse. In today’s environment of ‘do more with less,’ data reuse should be a huge factor when looking at what tool to use. First let me define my definition of reuse: Data reuse is not just reusing an old model or assembly and modifying it to create a new one. The problem with that methodology is you get any issues from the starting model/assembly duplicated in the new one, and allowing for new ones to be created. This can lead to quality issues downstream and cost the company time and money. You can use a library of parts but these are likely still highly modifiable.
CATIA has a workbench called Knowledgeware.
Knowledgeware gives your company the ability to reuse your corporate knowledge by embedding that knowledge into templates. The templates are rule based and the user can be restricted to the changes allowed – a pulldown menu, for example. Knowledgeware not only allows for data reuse but with the rule based methodology the user can very quickly create new designs from existing templates while adhering to company standards. The templates can be linked to drawings which are updated to the new design. By coupling this process with “skeleton modeling” you can create entire assemblies extremely fast.
The process can also be automated to allow for very rapid creation of design iterations. The process can be connected to downstream operations – tooling, for example. This could allow the creation of a new design, the drawings, the tool design and the NC programming, all based on your company’s standards, in a very rapid process. Your company IP is protected from theft from rogue employees or from data sent outside your company for quotes, etc. This technology is in use today at many OEM’s and in their supply base.
I believe in this area, CATIA has no equal.
As you can see the answer to “Why CATIA?” is complex. The answer is likely more complex than the three examples listed above. I hope that these examples help to give you an understanding that the power of CATIA is much more than just a CAD tool. CATIA can help your company really do more with less quickly and at the same time increase the quality of you designs.