When I think of the countless customers I have consulted with over the years, it amazes me how many don’t use parameters to control the design and capture design intent! What is a parameter, you ask? A parameter can be thought of in two ways when it comes to CATIA V5. Parameters are built the moment you start a new part – as you can see in the image below, we already have parameters for the Part Number, Nomenclature, Revision, Product Description, and Definition created automatically. Parameters are being created each time you build any feature. These types of parameters are known as system parameters.
You can and should build your own parameters to define your design intent. It’s every bit as important during the initial stages of a design to define your intent this way as it is to make sure sketches are constrained properly. In fact, it helps you in your sketch constraints (every constraint is a feature that has parameters associated to it). In this simple example of a piece of standard rectangular tubing shown below, there are constraints defining the height, width, wall thickness, and radii. Even though this is very easy to create, if I am a designer I would want to design it in such a way that I never have to waste any time designing a piece of rectangular tubing again. If I am a design leader, I feel the same and don’t want any of my designers doing this again in any design that involves any piece of rectangular tubing. The use of parameters will get us there!
The parameters I am talking about are user defined parameters. Simple to create but very, very powerful in their functionality. The simplest way to create a user defined parameter in CATIA V5 is through the fx icon found on the Knowledge toolbar.
You might be thinking, where have I seen that icon before? Oh yeah, in Excel when I need to create a formula for my cell. That is the point we are making here! In Excel, I use this function to compute things for me and make it easy to come up with a desired result. In CATIA, we will create some parameters and then, when necessary, assign formulas to them to come up with our desired result. When you click on the icon, you get the Formulas dialog and when you click on the drop down list next to the New Parameter of Type button, you can see you have many, many options.