CATIA tutorials beginner / basic CATIA training – All About CATIA part 1
CATIA Training, The Basics! Background and History
CATIA stands for Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application. It is also how you say “Kathy” in Russian or Italian, but you pronounce the software name “kah-TEE-ah”.
This is the software that’s used by the big automotive and aeronautical companies. Boeing, AirBus and Bombardier use CATIA for their planes. Both the 777 and 787 were designed in CATIA. Lots of auto manufacturers use CATIA – Bentley, BMW, Citroen, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Peugeot, Renault, Tata, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo and more. CATIA is also used by GoodYear, and the United States Navy for shipbuilding. World-renowned architect Frank Gehry used CATIA to design his many curvy buildings.
Generally CATIA isn’t taught at the college level and isn’t used by small businesses because the licensing is pretty expensive, more than an individual can generally afford (like $25,000). When you learn it, it’s usually in-house by private trainers that cost your company quite a bit. There are quite a few books on CATIA, and one private company that offers a good low-cost CATIA course (video-tutorials.net). Otherwise you pay hundreds a day for in-house training somewhere.
CATIA version 4 is unix-based, and some companies are still using V4, but in the last few years even most of the big guys started switching to V5, the Windows-based version of the software. The kernel of V4 and V5 is different, so sometimes conversions result in a loss of data. You can imagine what a pain in the butt this must have been for a company like CERN or Boeing. The versions are of course are not backward compatible; you can’t open a V5 file in V4. None of the products have backward compatible capability (of course!) While CATIA has had a v6 release for several years now, it is still issuing updates to v5.
CATIA was developed by a French aircraft manufacturer, Avions Marcel Dassault, in 1977. It was written in C++. Back then, it was used via mainframe. A mainframe is a huge computer that individuals connect to with local terminals. Dassault decided to market and sell the software in 1981. Boeing became a user of CATIA in 1984; they were the largest customer of Dassault. In 1988 CATIA was ported from mainframe to UNIX workstation. (For you young’uns, the personal computer (PC) in 1988 was still a long way from being ready to host this resource-intensive application). CATIA was adopted by aerospace, automotive and shipbuilding industries pretty quickly. CATIA’s V5 came out in 1998, which is wow, already ancient history for computer users! The support for Windows NT and XP was provided in 2001. The 2008 v6 runs on Windows, Linux or AIX platforms, but Dassault only provides support for Windows platform installations.
You can customize CATIA, too. V4 can be customized using Fortran and C. CATIA V5 can be customized using Visual Basic in the Visual Studio environment, or C++. It’s not like you have to write raw code anymore; the object-based environment of Visual Studio and the CATIA help files let you get by pretty well without much programming experience.
Don’t the fact that a Frenchman was at the heart of CATIA put you off; it is generally considered to be much more versatile and flexible in the domain of surface modeling and design than the other products. For example, if you’re trying to model something like an irregularly shaped tomato with a bruise, it’s a lot easier to do in CATIA than using the free-form surfacing tools in SolidWorks or Inventor.
Keep in mind that 3D software breeds cliques that put teenage girls to shame: CATIA users really turn up their noses at Inventor and SolidWorks. CATIA is the preferred tool for creating what are called Class A surfaces. This is a term used in automotive design to describe freeform surfaces which look great, work well and are of high-quality (technically they need at least G2 and preferably G3 continuity, whereby, for example, two body panels on a car transition smoothly together with a continuous rate of curvature between the two sections, so that they appear connected and smooth).
Personally, I find that for surface design and modeling, CATIA is far superior to SolidWorks, specifically in terms of free-form design and surface manipulation. There are just more tools for working with surfaces, more ways to execute your vision.
Does CATIA work well on Windows? Can I do CATIA training on Windows?
Yes, CATIA v5 and v6 can be installed on Windows 7 & greater. A 64 bit operating system is a must.
What are other system requirements for successful installation of CATIA software?
Here are some basic system requirements that you should follow to make sure you can install and run CATIA v5 and start your CATIA training, of course!
- Your workstation needs to be fast and have enough free space on the hard drive. Extra ROM is a good idea.
- Keep at least 40% of your hard drive free so you can run the program well.
- Get a really big hard drive, and back up your data regularly.
- Multiple large monitors are helpful, about 22″ minimum.
- Graphics adapter: A graphics adapter with a 3D OpenGL accelerator is required with minimum resolution of 1024×768 for Microsoft Windows workstations and 1280×1024 for UNIX workstations.
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