CATIA (Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application) is a multi-platform CAD/CAM/CAE commercial software suite developed by the French company Dassault SystemesIBM. Written in the C++ programming language, CATIA is the cornerstone of the Dassault Systemes Product lifecycle management software suite. and marketed worldwide by

The software was created in the late 1970s and early 1980s to develop Dassault's Mirage fighter jet, then was adopted in the aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding, and other industries. Architect Frank Gehry used it to design the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

CATIA V5 is the leading product development solution for manufacturing organizations of all sizes.

Apply its capabilities to a variety of industries such as aerospace, automotive, industrial machinery, electrical, electronics, shipbuilding, plant design, and consumer goods.

  • Provides an integrated suite of Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) applications for digital product definition and simulation
  • Addresses the complete product development process, from product concept specifications through product-in-service, in a fully integrated and associative manner
  • Facilitates true collaborative engineering across the multidisciplinary extended enterprise, including style and form design, mechanical design, equipment and systems engineering, digital mock-up, machining, analysis, and simulation
  • Enables enterprises to reuse product design knowledge and accelerate development cycles
  • Helps companies speed their responses to market needs and frees users to focus on creativity and innovation
  • Based on the open, scalable V5 architecture

Who uses CATIA?

CATIA is used by the automotive and aerospace industries for automobile and aircraft product and tooling design. There are thousands of companies the world over using CATIA. For every company that uses CATIA for product design, there are hundreds of suppliers to those companies that also use CATIA.

CATIA is found in a variety of industries throughout the world. Some of these industries include; Aerospace, Appliances, Architecture, Automotive, Construction, Consumer Goods, Electronics, Medical, Furniture, Machinery, Mold and Die, and Shipbuilding.

CATIA has played a major role in NASA's design of the Space Shuttle. The military, working with private industry, uses CATIA for the design of "jet-fighter" aircraft, aircraft carriers, helicopters, tanks and various other forms of weaponry.

Where is CATIA used?

CATIA is used throughout the North American and European continents, as well as Australia. Wherever companies are engaged in the design and/or manufacture of products of any kind, CATIA can usually be found. Many CATIA operators travel throughout the US and abroad on so-called "paid" vacations by accepting CATIA design positions in whichever area of the country or world they wish to visit.

What job opportunities are there?

With more and more companies adopting CATIA as their primary CAD system, there are never enough designers (with CATIA knowledge) to fill the world-wide demand.

There are many differences between CATIA V4 and CATIA V5. The fact that CATIA V5 now also runs on a MS Windows platform instead of UNIX is one of them. One of the advantages of this is that a lot of the Windows funtionalities are also implemented in CATIA V5 such as copy, paste, undo and redo. Another positive feature is that in contrary to CATIA V4, CATIA V5 is able to assign contraints and formulas to the geometry of solids so that the design can be adjusted without having to redraw the geometry from scratch. When applied correctly this feature can save a lot of time in the design process.

The fact that these 2 CATIA versions are very different can be seen as a problem. Companies which have invested a lot of time and money to work with V4 now need to learn to use the new version which of course also is a huge investment while the profit using this program isn't immediately noticeable. This because of getting to know the new workaround of this program takes time and effort. This is where GATE Aerospace offers an interactive design workshop to speed up the learning progress and to make the paticipant familiar with the basics of CATIA V5.

Provides two new approaches for the end to end composite process: The grid composite and the solid composite

These new approaches offer better optimization in the composite design steps and better mating with structural parts in turbine wing design for the aerospace and energy industries.

Improves the end-to-end electrical process with more knowledge capture and reuse for electrical design

The user may define knowledge user parameters on internal harness coverings and copy data from a catalog definition to a harness design. A knowledgeware check allows the user to validate the 3D harness segment diameters versus the harness segment diameters computed from wires. The user may also synchronize equipment reference designator attributes between electrical and tubing definitions using knowledge.

Provides more productivity in wire and harness design 1 flattening

V5.19 provides more efficient harness flattening with the ability to maintain bundle tangency from a 3D harness design. It allows the use of XML electrical files in a local repository when using ENOVIA VPM V5. Arranging segments in a support is improved to ensure wire routing and to increase accuracy of complex connector assemblies (shell and connector).

Improves V4 to V5 electrical harness data migration

V4 to V5 migration brings numerous benefits in this release, such as the migration of V4 protection as V5 light protection. The user is able to use the enhanced V5 internal protection if he or she migrates electrical data containing protections from V4 to V5. This enhanced migration offers improved consistency of V4 and V5 bundle segment shape and length.

Brings a new EndCut command for structure design

The user may:

  • Create, edit, and delete end cuts, and the end cut for a beam is integrated in the piece part engine
  • Translate a Structure Functional Design 2 (SFD) or Ship Structure Detail Design 2 (SDD) feature during the explode mode through piece part process
  • Define end cut graphic replacement in drafting
  • Manage different graphic replacements for beam pillars

Enhances technological results usage in tooling design

The mold to cam function is enhanced to permit the creation of a technological results report. Reporting of die/mold technological results is accessible via the new command Display Technological Results (available with Prismatic Machining Preparation Assistant 2 (MPA) license). Any user of the Tooling Design 1 product who has an MPA license can benefit from this enhanced reporting command:

  • Create a report (*.csv) on the technological results existing in a given die
  • Define some in house processes between the design and the manufacturing stage that provide the user with a powerful tool to control the integrity of the die design and prevents costly iterations between design and manufacturing

Increases design productivity in sheet metal design

The powerful extrusion explode improvement offers an explode mode, which allows the user to generate an associative wall on edge. Creating an extrusion becomes an accelerator of the design and exploding the extrusion allows user to locally modify design while maintaining associations.

Ensures new improvements in the machining simulation domain:

  • Capability to support milling machines with interchangeable heads. This enhancement allows the user to simulate milling machines with interchangeable heads, thus enabling the user to verify numerical control (NC) tool paths for travel limits and collisions and modify if necessary.
  • Machine configuration management within an operation. The new options in the existing tool path modify dialog and the tool path trace allow the user to:
    • Force the selection of a particular machine configuration during machine simulation
    • Associate and persist a machine configuration along with a particular tool path point from within the tool path modify dialog
    • Apply this machine configuration during machine simulation when the particular tool path point is to be reached

Ensures the design of complex machine parts with easy-to-use multi-axis machining operations

V5.19 provides a new multi pocket flank contouring operation, which supports multiple tool axes for point-to-point operation. The tool axis may be driven by an auxiliary surface (sweeping, contour driven, iso-parametric, and curve following) through the 5x operation.

Reduces programming machining time

To get accurate information, the user can display the in-process stock on each milling or turning operation. The tool path replay includes the capability to check collisions with parts and fixtures defined in the part operation. During a contour driven operation, an extra guide may be defined in several ways:

  • By 2 points
  • By a point and direction
  • By an automatic guide contour computed to enable contact points on a guide curve

Multiple radial passes may be operated for thread and circular milling operations.

Enlarges and optimizes machining process and technology

V5.19 introduces new operations for NC machines. A new mode, by offset on contour, is included for plunge milling, the clearance management is federated, and tool path cornerization is available. In milling and turning, the user has the ability to manage the C-axis on a turret, and it is now possible to conduct process machining on the main spindle and the counter spindle part with the same tool. Also, the user may invert the tool orientation (0-180 degrees). Both a conical tool and a user profile tool are supported in IPM generation for profile contouring in DPM machining.

Design performance for innovation

Increases sales through on the plant, architecture, and construction industries thanks to new capabilities in terrain modeling

These powerful improvements include the ability to:

  • Work with meshed surfaces and volumes including tessellation and multi-slice commands
  • Edit the meshes easily
  • Create and manage Z-Level curves
  • Benefit from dedicated improvements to the building implantation and enhancements to the graphic performances

Provides the intersection edge fillet command to improve update stability during design changes

The new intersection edge fillet command increases the part design user's daily productivity by making it possible for the user to:

  • Create fillets with the appropriate definitions, including definitions by the intersection of several features and beyond the intersection of faces
  • Rely on improved update stability during design changes
  • Capture and reuse part design features easily

The user can define a power copy that includes a set of features and a fillet defined at the feature intersection level. When this power copy feature is re-instantiated in another context, the fillet is correctly updated since it does not depend on the intersection of the selected faces but instead on the intersection of the features.

Improves productivity by providing easier definition and better stability of the blend corner capability

This improvement extends the use of the blend corner capability for fillet definition (removing small edges selection) and prevents the redefinition of former blend corners when modifying an edge fillet. The user interface for creation by selection of edges or vertices, edition of the value, and remove is enhanced to improve productivity.

Allows the user to define the gage taper hole main diameter using the selected face as the reference

The user interface of the gage taper hole is improved to provide a new computation mode that enables the user to compute the tapered hole using the selected face as the reference for the main diameter.

Breakthrough technologies

Improves and accelerates the part and tooling design review process for manufacturability with wall thickness analysis for the Cast & Forged Optimizer (CFO) product

V5.19 delivers Cast & Forged Optimizer (CFO) add-ons with CFO wall thickness analysis. This new capability

  • Improves and accelerates the part and tooling design review process for manufacturability in both casting and forging processes and injection molding processes for plastic part design
  • Allows the user to analyze the part thickness either by projecting a ray from the selected point inside the part and normally to its surface, or by rolling a sphere of a maximum diameter inside the part
  • Allows detailed and accurate analysis and provides quick identification of critical thin or thick areas using a dynamic sectioning view and a transparent mode display

Ensures automatic filleting in shape design

Automatic filleting provides a significant process improvement, especially for the design of plastic and molded parts. Previously, the process of filleting sharp edges to conform to existing features was a repetitive and very time-consuming phase of the shape design process. This new capability is particularly helpful for fillet manufacturing preparation because it can automatically fillet the sharp edges of a shape in a single operation.

Permits fast surface creation from curves in the Imagine and Shape product

Two new primitive commands are added to provide an intuitive and productive interface with no additional geometry creation. The extruded profile command enables the user to draw directly the profile from the extrude command. Profile modification can be accomplished dynamically within the extrude command, and a command is provided to revolve the profile around an axis definition.

Collaborative PLM

Improves 3DXML export with shader support

Full compatibility with CgFX is provided for shadows. More materials are added to the materials library, such as CarPaint and external shaders that can be imported to add even more effects.

Improves 3D annotations review using 3D XML

The functional tolerancing and annotation (FT&A) features defined in CATProduct and in CATProcess documents can be saved in .3dxml documents as well as .CATPart annotations. This allows the user to review them either using the DMU Dimensioning & Tolerancing Review product or the 3D Live FT&A review product.

Supports new CAD formats

New multiCAD formats are supported, including SW2007, SW2008, SolidEdge V20, and Parasolid V18.

Easy, open and smart

Provides CATIA application infrastructures with large scale management capabilities to design large scale objects

After addressing the small scale management needs of the micro-electro-mechanical systems industry in V5.18, CATIA V5.19 delivers large scale management (from 0.1 mm up to 10 kms) capabilities using mechanical infrastructure. This infrastructure enables the user to design large scale 3D objects, such as dams, and to benefit from complete integration in the Generative Drafting and 2D Layout products.

Delivers advanced effects in rendering including soft shadows from multiple light sources

Shadows are made more realistic with the addition of multiple light sources. The user has the ability to compute and store light maps off-line and then load them so that a scene can be rendered in real time without waiting on calculations to be completed.

Ensures alignment to the latest PROStep/ recommended practices for the control of STEP transfers

New STEP validation properties are taken into account for assemblies, allowing the user to check assemblies conversion even when geometry is not exchanged, as in the case of nested assemblies.


CATIA started as an in-house development by French aircraft manufacturer Avions Marcel Dassault, at that time customer of the CADAM CAD software.

Initially named CATI (Conception Assistée Tridimensionnelle Interactive — French for Interactive Aided Three Dimensional Design ) — it was renamed CATIA in 1981, when Dassault created a subsidiary to develop and sell the software, and signed a non-exclusive distribution agreement with IBM.

In 1984, the Boeing Company chose CATIA as its main 3D CAD tool, becoming its largest customer.

In 1988, CATIA version 3 was ported from the mainframe computers to UNIX.

In 1990, General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corp chose CATIA as its main 3D CAD tool, to design the U.S. Navy's Virginia class nuclear submarine.

In 1992, CADAM was purchased from IBM and the next year CATIA CADAM v4 was published. In 1996, it was ported from one to four Unix operating systems, including IBM AIX, Silicon GraphicsIRIX, Sun Microsystems SunOS and Hewlett-Packard HP-UX.

In 1998, an entirely rewritten version of CATIA, CATIA V5 was released, with support for UNIX, Windows NT and Windows XP since 2001.

In 2008, Dassault announced CATIA V6. Support for any operating system other than Windows is dropped.


Commonly referred to as a 3D Product Lifecycle Management software suite, CATIA supports multiple stages of product development (CAx), from conceptualization, design (CAD), manufacturing (CAM), and analysis (CAE).

CATIA can be customized via application programming interfaces (API). V4 can be adapted in the Fortran and C programming languages under an API called CAA. V5 can be adapted via the Visual Basic and C++ programming languages, an API called CAA2 or CAA V5 that is a component object model (COM)-like interface.

Although later versions of CATIA V4 implemented NURBS, V4 principally used piecewise polynomial surfaces. CATIA V4 uses a non-manifold solid engine.

Catia V5 features a parametric solid/surface-based package which uses NURBS as the core surface representation and has several workbenches that provide KBE support.

As of 2008, the latest release is V5 release 19 (V5R19).

V5 can work with other applications, including Enovia, Smarteam, and various CAE Analysis applications.

Supported operating systems and platforms

CATIA V5 runs on Microsoft Windows (both 32-bit and 64-bit), and as of Release 18 Service Pack 4 on Windows Vista 64. IBM AIX, Hewlett Packard HP-UX and Sun Microsystems Solaris are supported.

CATIA V4 is supported for those Unixes and IBM MVS and VM/CMS mainframe platforms up to release 1.7.

CATIA V3 and earlier run on the mainframe platforms.

CATIA is widely used throughout the engineering industry, especially in the automotive and aerospace sectors. CATIA V4, CATIA V5, Pro/ENGINEER, NX (formerly Unigraphics), and SolidWorks are the dominant systems.


The Boeing Company used CATIA V3 to develop its 777 airliner, and is currently using CATIA V5 for the 787 series aircraft. They have employed the full range of Dassault Systemes' 3D PLM products, comprised of CATIA, DELMIA, and ENOVIA LCA, supplemented by Boeing developed applications.

European aerospace giant Airbus has been using CATIA since 2001. In 2006, Airbus announced that the production of its Airbus 380 had been set back by two years at a cost of $6.1 billion because development was done on two versions of CATIA. It would appear that German and Spanish Airbus facilities used CATIA V4, while British and French sites had switched to V5. Among the problems: wiring harnesses manufactured using aluminium rather than copper conductors required special design rules including non-standard dimensions and bend radii; these were not easily transferred between different versions.

Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier Aerospace has done all of its designing on CATIA.


Automotive companies that use CATIA to varying degrees are BMW, Porsche, Daimler Chrysler[2], Audi, Volkswagen, Volvo, Fiat, Gestamp Automocion, Benteler AG, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Scania, Hyundai, Proton, Tata motors and Mahindra. GoodyearComputer representation of surfaces. uses it in making tires for automotive and aerospace and also uses a customized CATIA for its design and development. All automotive companies use CATIA for car structures — door beams, IP supports, bumper beams, roof rails, side rails, body components — because CATIA is very good in surface creation and


Dassault Systems has begun serving shipbuilders with CATIA V5 release 8, which includes special features useful to shipbuilders. GD Electric Boat used CATIA to design the latest fast attack submarine class for the United States Navy, the Virginia class. Northrop Grumman Newport NewsGerald R. Ford class of supercarriers for the US Navy. also used CATIA to design the


Architect Frank Gehry has used the software, through the C-Cubed Virtual Architecture company, now Virtual Build Team, to design his award-winning curvilinear buildings.His technology arm, Gehry Technologies, has been developing software based on CATIA V5 named Digital Project. Digital Project has been used to design buildings and has successfully completed a handful of projects.