Pros / CATIA offers some of the most powerful CAD tools on the market.
Cons / It is one of the most expensive CAD programs on the market.
Verdict / CATIA is perfect for expert designers and professional engineering businesses but the complicated interface and extremely high cost of this software make it a bad option for average users and small-time companies.
At first glance, CATIA’s visually-outdated interface makes it look like this software doesn’t offer much. Don’t let that fool you. This software can give you some of the best design tools on the market. However, it is known as one of the most complex and most costly CAD programs, which is the reason it didn't score higher in our comparison as we focused on finding programs best suited for budget-conscious users. This software is best meant for experts in mechanical engineering and aerospace industries as the tools are better suited for designing components for engines, electrical parts, thermal power systems and hydro power.
You will need to request a quote from Dassault Systèmes in order to know how much the software will cost you. The estimate will usually depend on the number of people who will be using the software and the type of work you plan on using it for. Most professional CAD software is expensive but CATIA is known for being one of the most expensive options on the market. It is best suited for a large company that makes enough money to afford spending thousands of dollars a year on the program. The large cost is also due to the powerful tools and professional results this software offers.
This software gives you plenty of design options including advanced shape-modeling capabilities. You’ll be able to make blueprints, 3D models and fully realized photorealistic renderings with this software. This includes the ability to add material textures to your shapes as well as controlled lighting options. You can also adjust the transparency of various parts, which can make it easier for you to view and edit sections of your designs. This program works especially well when working on a large and complex project like airplane engines.
CATIA’s editing tools allow you to view your various layers and edit them as you please. You can turn the snap tool on and off or choose to only have one snap location active to create a uniform and accurate design. This program lets you create 3D models from 2D designs, which is helpful if you import a document into the program. It also lets you create 2D images from your 3D designs, which will be helpful when creating blueprints or annotating sections of your designs.
There are myriad commands in this software, so you’ll have a lot of control over your creations. Unfortunately, the interface and tools aren’t very intuitive compared to other software. It will take a long time to know all the options, so plan on spending a good deal of time learning. Fortunately, the program does allow you to create macros to make your workflow smoother by consolidating a group of frequently used actions into a single command.
You can rearrange your tool pallets to make the software a little easier to use. Like most other programs we evaluated, this one features drag and drop capabilities so you can rearrange and select various elements with ease. This software is also used for architecture, offering wall tools to help you create building plans quickly. CATIA works with DWF, PDF, STEP, STL and image files among others so you will be able to 3D print your designs as well as import and export in various formats.
The company offers a free 30-day trial so you can really test out the software before deciding if you want to purchase it. Should you need help, you can contact the company by phone or email, as official technical support is available 24/7. There is also a helpful knowledgebase with tutorials and a community forum on the company’s website. We found plenty of unofficial tutorials on YouTube, so some assistance with techniques and features can be learned from other users. Mac users will need to find another program, like ZWCAD, since this one only works on Windows.
CATIA is a powerful program that can help you design 3D components, architectural designs and blue prints. It gives you access to plenty of materials and lighting options including photorealistic rendering so your designs can look professional and can help your customers visualize your designs better. This software isn’t the easiest to use and is one of the costliest on the market, which is why it scored so low in our comparison. However, it is a well-known tool that engineers, designers and architects frequently employ.