CATIA (Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application) is a multi-platform CAD/CAM/CAE commercial software suite developed by the French company Dassault Systemes and marketed worldwide by IBM. Written in the C++ programming language, CATIA is the cornerstone of the Dassault Systemes Product lifecycle management software suite.
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 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 Graphics IRIX, 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
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
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.
Notable industries using CATIA
CATIA is widely used throughout the engineering
industry, especially in the automotive and aerospace sectors. CATIA V4, CATIA V5, Pro/ENGINEER
(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
, Daimler Chrysler
, Volkswagen, Volvo
, Gestamp Automocion
, Benteler AG
, PSA Peugeot Citroën
, Tata motors
and Mahindra. Goodyear
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 Computer representation of surfaces
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 News
also used CATIA to design the Gerald R. Ford class
for the US Navy.
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.
has announced plans to release CATIA Version 6 (V6) in mid-2008.
The new interface allows designers to work directly with the 3D solid model rather than the feature-based design approach employed in CATIA V5.