Posts Tagged "CATIA V5"

This is a second look at the hidden intelligence of CATIA V5. Our topic today will focus on the creation and use of design tables. As I talked about in my last blog post, parameters and formulas can be used to drive your design from the specification tree based on your design intent. We will continue on using the rectangular tubing part and build several variations of that tubing that can be driven from a spreadsheet.

Design Table Icon

Most of the work has been already done, and although it is not necessary to have pre-defined parameters and formulas existing, the process is faster. We will begin by again looking at the Knowledge toolbar, this time focusing on the Design Table icon.

When the command is selected, a dialog appears asking for the name of the design table and also gives you a choice on whether or not you want to use a pre existing file or create one from the current parameter values.  The differences being whether or not you have an existing spreadsheet filled out already with all the tabulated values of what changes in each iteration of the design.

Design Table Dialog


In our case, to show the functionality we will choose the create with current parameter values option. Once that is decided, you choose which parameters you want to be driven by the spreadsheet.  In our case, we had some already created, so we changed the filter to User parameters, chose the values that were NOT driven by formulas (INSIDE and OUTSIDE RADII) and moved them to the inserted side by highlighting and clicking the arrow.

Parameters to Insert

At this point, we have defined that we want a spreadsheet to use columns for Height, Width, and Wall Thickness based on the current values in the model as it is at this moment. When we click OK on the dialog, it will ask us where we want to save the spreadsheet. I suggest that you do this in a place where anyone who uses the model can has at least read access to (i.e. a network drive).  Note that I can also change the type of file to a .txt if I do not have access to Excel® or any other software that can edit .xls files.

Read Access Directory


Once this has been defined, your design table is created, linked to your 3D model, and ready to be edited to include your alternate sizes. This is confirmed by the next dialog. To add in the other sizes, simply click on the Edit table… button and your editor (Excel or Notepad) should launch and simply fill in rows with your values.

Linked and ready to edit

Once you have edited and saved the values, you can close that software and CATIA will update based on your values.

Excel Modifications


CATIA Updated

Now you would just pick the value set you want and click OK for the change to appear on the screen.

File Updated

At any time, you can always go to make the changes by finding the Design Table under the Relations section of the specification tree and double-clicking on it.

Design Table under Relations

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to create a design table and drive your parametric file with multiple values. The world of CATIA V5 is all about re-use of data and capturing business intelligence we already know exists in all companies.  How can we help you? Tata Technologies has helped many companies time and again.

Stay tuned for Part 3!







For many years, finite element modeling has been the job of a specialist; the tools used to perform even simple finite element analysis have been complex enough to require a subject matter expert. This is primarily due to the complex, difficult to understand graphical user interfaces of these products. The job is made further difficult to perform due to the requirement of advanced engineering subject knowledge by the analyst.

Can a mechanical designer who uses CAD tools to create engineering drawings be trained to perform engineering simulations?

In today’s product availability scenario, the answer is “yes.”

A CAD designer using CATIA can create and execute simple finite element models within the CATIA environment by using CATIA workbenches that have been developed for simulations. This makes it intuitive and easier for designers to ensure that their parts meet their design requirements.


How the simulation methodology gets simplified using designer level tools

  • No need of an expert level analyst tool to perform simple finite element simulation.
  • No need of manual data transfer between design and analysis departments.
  • No need of geometry clean up tools to fix data translation errors.

There are obvious benefits to adopting this simplified approach that integrates the design and analysis environments. The designer can predict design problem early in design process; subsequently the designer can check various alternatives of design in less time. This is primarily due to the tight integration of designer level tools with knowledge based engineering that allows the designer to deliver better product in less time.

Part Level Simulation

From a geometrical perspective, the simulation model can be generated at part level to begin with. The native integration within CATIA allows users to perform stress, displacement, and vibration analysis at any time in the design process, allowing more accurate sizing of parts and fewer design iterations. Individual parts consisting of solid, surface, and wireframe geometries can be analyzed under a variety of loading conditions. The analysis specifications, such as loads and restraints, are associative, with the design allowing users to perform analyses quickly and easily. These specifications are then automatically incorporated into the underlying finite element model, meaning that users do not have to work directly with the finite element model. “Virtual parts” allow items like forces, moments, and restraints to be easily modeled without having to have a detailed geometric representation.

Standard reports can be automatically generated in HTML format, providing clear and detailed information about the results of the analysis, including images associated with the computations. These reports can be used to document the analyses that have been performed and to communicate the results of the analysis to other stakeholders in the organization. CATIA V5 Analysis users benefit naturally from the overall PLM solution provided by Dassault Systèmes, including ENOVIA V5 for data and product lifecycle management. CATIA V5 Analysis users can store, manage, and version all the data associated with their product’s simulation and share the information within the extended enterprise. This unique capability allows collaboration and provides access to advanced PLM practices such as concurrent engineering and change management.


     Assembly level simulation

 If the concept of virtual parts does not hold good anymore and the complexities of various parts interacting with each other make assembly level simulation mandatory, it is possible to create analysis models for assemblies as well. The analysis of assemblies, including an accurate representation of the way the parts interact and are connected, allows for more realistic and accurate simulation. The designer does not have to make simplifying assumptions about the loading and restraints acting on an individual part. Instead the part can be analyzed within the environment that it operates with the loading automatically determined based on the way the part is connected to and interacts with surrounding parts.

The various types of connections that can be modeled include bolted connections, welded connections, pressure fitting connections, and many more. To make the job further easier for the designer, these connections can be defined using assembly level constraints that already exist in the CAT Product model. Once the design changes, the associated assembly constraints as well as corresponding FEA connections get updated, thereby creating an updated FEA model that is ready for analysis.

         Concurrent engineering made easier 

The “assembly of analysis” capability enables concurrent engineering. For example, the various parts in an assembly can be modeled and meshed separately by different users. They can either use the CATIA V5 meshing tools or import orphan meshes (meshes that don’t have any geometry associated with them) developed outside of CATIA Analysis using a variety of different modeling tools. The user responsible for analyzing the assembly can consolidate the different meshes, connect the parts, apply the loading specifications, and run the simulation. This can significantly reduce the turnaround time when analyzing large assemblies, particularly since some of the parts may have already been analyzed and therefore, the analysis models would already be available.


Extended solver capabilities

The basic level FEA solver present in the CATIA designer workbench is called the “Elfini” solver and can model only simpler physical problems such as linear materials, small deformations, small rotations and bonded contacts; real life problems can be much more complex and may necessitate the need of an advanced solver. To address such scenarios it is possible to include the well known non-linear solver Abaqus into the CATIA designer environment; it can model the effects of geometric nonlinearity, such as large displacements, and allows nonlinear materials to be included, such as the yielding of metals and nonlinear elastic materials like rubber. It also offers more advanced contact capabilities including the ability to model large relative sliding of surfaces in contact.

The Abaqus capability enables the effect of multiple steps to be analyzed, where the loading, restraints, contact conditions, etc., vary from one step to the next. This powerful technique allows complex loading sequences to be modeled. For example, a pressure vessel might be subjected to an initial bolt tightening step, followed by internal pressurization, and conclude with thermal loading.



Previously, my colleague Mark Van DeBogert touched in an earlier blog post on the business side of CATIA 3D Master. Today, we are going to go a little further into understanding what is available to purchase from the Dassault CATIA V5 product line. As with a lot of Dassault CATIA products, there are two levels of the Functional Tolerancing & Annotation offering.  The licenses are FT1 and FTA respectively.

The FT1 license allows you to easily create your 3D annotations, tolerances, and specifications, as it does provide a pretty comprehensive set of dress up features, text and flag note features. 3D Dimensioning can be done in both part and assembly levels.  You display and manage your annotations by simply setting up various annotation planes, and you can easily switch a mirrored annotation with the click of a button, as shown below.

The number one and most significant difference between FT1 and FTA is the Tolerancing Advisor.  The advisor guides the user through the creation of annotations and dimensions according to the selected geometrical element, plus an existing annotation and the selected standard (ANSI, ASME, ISO, etc.) the user is working to. For the novice user, it will usually prevent making gross mistakes; it’s pretty much the all-purpose tool for creating annotations, dimensions, and tolerances – it can’t necessarily do everything, but it certainly goes a long way. Everything created using the tolerance advisor is what’s referred to as Semantic.

In order for something to be Semantic it needs to meet two criteria: […]

It’s time to share more specials for the month of December! Check out these offers from Dassault Systèmes and Tata Technologies, which expire December 30th.  It truly is the best time of year to purchase software for all of your manufacturing and design needs!

Dassault Systèmes Promotions

  • Deals on CATIA End Soon!Grow with CATIA: Save up to 35% on all CATIA V5 products and select 3D EXPERIENCE solutions, including configurations such as MD2, CAT, or MDHX, as well as, add-ons and shareables like FPE, MCE, or ASD.
  • CATIA Machining Deal: Save up to 50% on all CATIA Machining portfolios and discover the value of integrated design and manufacturing. CATIA Machining can reduce your programming time and increase your competitiveness.

Terms and conditions apply. Please contact us here or email me at to inquire about an offer.


Tata Technologies SpecialsDassault Systemes Training

Space: the final frontier!

…at least that is how I am beginning to feel as design software and its features evolve. In this post, I want to talk about the basics – specifically the basics of component design.

The age-old question will arise at times: do I begin the design at 0,0,0 or do I design the component in its assembly position? Does it matter? Well, yes and no. With most CAD software packages, you have the ability to constrain or mate the feature to the component it is mating to. So technically, almost every component can be designed at 0,0,0 and then just assembled when you are done, as long as you have a mating condition to work with. This method is typically referred to as Bottom Up design. You see this most often in design of off-the-shelf items you would basically plug and play as needed, e.g. Fasteners, Tubing, Brackets, etc.



The alternative to this type of design is when you have a group of components that don’t necessarily mate together but need to come into the correct assembly position every time they are inserted. This method is typically referred to as Top Down design.  In the Automotive realm of design, all of the body panels are designed using a top down method.  Generally you will hear the term “designed in body position,” which indicates it is a top down design.

The key to working on a top down design is that every component is designed using a common axis system, aka common 0,0,0 location. The major systems in a vehicle that are used in other vehicles as well will be developed using a common axis system that won’t be the vehicle axis system.  For example, an engine would maybe have an axis system built at the rear face of the block and the centerline of the crank. […]

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.

Complex Surfacing

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.


Large Assemblies

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.

Data Reuse

Lastly, let’s look at data reuse. […]

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.



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