Solidworks vs. CATIA

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Solidworks vs. CATIA – Which CAD Program is Best for You?

When it comes to 3D modeling software, you’re spoilt for choice on which one to choose. As you do your research on which 3D CAD program to choose, you may well get confused as you try to decide which program best suits you. Two of the leading picks you’ll be left wondering which one to choose are CATIA and Solidworks.

These two 3D modeling programs are popularly used in aviation, the automotive industry, architecture, product design, and mechanical and electrical engineering. However, telling the difference between these two 3D CAD programs isn’t easy to the untrained eye. They both share some aspects, including role-based differentiation or integration, 3D rendering, integration, or sketching. 

With that said, they do have some distinct differences that set them apart. To help you identify which one to go for, here’s an in-depth guide on both these 3D modeling programs to help you know the one that will provide you with value.

What Is Solidworks?

Solidworks 3D modeling software laundered in 1995 is designed by Dassault Systems. Solidworks is a parametric modeling program which means a change in the dimensions leads to a change in the shape of the 3D model. Moreover, it’s very user-friendly despite boasting many useful and powerful features, including; 

  • Simulation tools: These provide you with insight into computational fluid dynamics, fluid forces, fluid flow, life cycle assessment, and others. 
  • CAM tools that help integrated manufacturing and design processes. 
  • It gives you the ability to draw assemblies or parts. 
  • Electrical design solutions: These enable the creation of schematic with the use of libraries and part details. 
  • Rendering tools that offer photo-realistic visualization, thereby improving customer experiences. 
  • Product data management tools that make it easy to automate workflows and share design details. Therefore, every stakeholder will at all times always have files that are updated. 

Due to its many appealing features, using Solidworks is taught at engineering and mechanical school. 

What Is CATIA? 

CATIA is one of the most highly regarded CAD programs as it allows you to create highly complex shapes with the highest quality finish. CATIA has been used at the pinnacle of design, from F1 cars to the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall by architect Frank Gehry.

This 3D modeling software is also currently owned by Dassault System and was first unveiled in 1977. CATIA’s primary goal is to improve workflow and productivity, and it does this by allowing multiple people to work simultaneously on one project. 

Because of this, it’s considered a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software since it manages data while developing a product. Therefore, the team involved can keep track of every change as the product is being designed. 

This powerful CAD program is used in several industries, including aeronautics, aerospace, and automotive. Therefore, it allows you to design cars, airplanes, and other complicated items. This software is usually targeted for use by engineers and professionals, especially those working at large global companies. 

The features that are integrated into CATIA include:

  • Complex shape modeling: This 3D modeling program features complex features, including variable-radius fillets and lofts. Also, it incorporates other features such as the Freestyle Shaper and Generative Surface Design. With these features, you can revolve, sweep, manipulate control points, and create surfaces that can’t be performed by a standard parametric 3D modeling tool.  
  • Products and third-party support: The latest CATIA includes numerous third-party products and 129 unique items. 
  • Specialized modules: Incorporated in CATIA are design modules for industries that metalwork, composite material, and wiring play an essential role. This means you can use this 3D modeling program to design mechanical parts as well as different product design projects. 

Comparison Of Solidworks And CATIA 

To get an idea of which CAD program to go with, you first need to understand what each of these two has to offer. Therefore, here’s an overview of essential aspects that differentiate these two programs to understand better which one is a better pick for you.

Ease of Use – Winner: Solidworks 

If you’re new to 3D printing, the last thing you want is to work with a complex 3D modeling program. In such a situation, then Solidworks is undoubtedly the best pick for you. The reason for this is this 3D modeling software has an interface that’s simple to orient despite having limited modules. 

Thanks to this, you get the chance to quickly sharpen your 3D modeling and designing skills without breaking a sweat. 

In contrast, CATIA is a lot more complicated since many features aren’t beginner-friendly. Before using CATIA, you should first consider trying out Solidworks since these two are very similar. It’s only after doing that that you’ll be in a position to navigate CATIA easily, which boasts more features.  

3D Rendering – Winner: CATIA 

Both Solidworks and CATIA provide you with 3D rendering. For Solidworks, you get a collaborative cloud environment that enables a team to work together on a specific design. As a result, this allows them to quickly incorporate new ideas and concepts, after which they store them automatically for recall later. 

You get identical 3D capabilities with CATIA, albeit with some added advantages since it’s a role-based system. Moreover, there are more than 50 roles for you to pick from, showing it provides you with the capabilities and workflow required to complete a specific task correctly. 

Surface Engineering – Winner: CATIA 

It’s no doubt that Solidworks boasts a user-friendly 3D platform that allows you to make exciting shapes. However, you can’t use this 3D modeling software to create complex design features. In such an instance, the best alternative is CATIA. 

With CATIA, you don’t have to break a sweat designing complex structures that still look appealing to the eye. All this is achievable because CATIA offers you a fluid 3D design and physics to make practical and safe structures such as airplanes, lofts, draft angles, and shells. 

Prices and Licenses – Winner: Solidworks 

While these two 3D modeling programs’ prices are relatively high, Solidworks is a better choice when on a budget. This is because it’s priced at around $4,000, while you’ll need to pay about $16,000 for CATIA. And this shouldn’t be a surprise since CATIA is a high-end CAD software application. 

Therefore, you need to first assess your capabilities and interests before choosing which of these programs to buy. If you’re a beginner, Solidworks is the desired pick since it doesn’t incorporate many functionalities and tools, unlike CATIA. 

Integrated Model Libraries – Winner: CATIA 

With CATIA, you’re offered free downloads of its DYMOLA products to be used alongside the libraries. As a result, you’ll have an easier time using it when designing mechanical, electrical, fluid, and HVAC gadgets and machines.

In contrast, Solidworks allows the seamless interoperation of the Modelica libraries. However, their effectiveness is greatly hampered because it doesn’t form the solution’s main part. 

User-Interface – Winner: CATIA 

The best part about using CATIA is that you get access to the role-based dashboards where everything you need is at your fingertips. This ensures you don’t have a hard time optimizing designs and testing them against different case scenarios. Moreover, these role-based dashboards present on the premise and in the cloud enable brainstorming and collaboration. 

As a result, CATIA guarantees you a greater user experience thanks to its superb interface that edges Solidworks and other CAD programs. Despite Solidworks having strong user capabilities, it still can’t outperform CATIA with its many convenient capabilities. 

Learning Curve – Winner: Solidworks 

Since Solidworks and CATIA are advanced 3D modeling programs, they’re both complex to learn. Therefore, you’ll need several months before you can understand how to use these systems properly. Fortunately, you can find many useful online tutorials and active communities that can help ease your understanding of how to use these systems. 

With that said, CATIA is a lot more complicated to learn than Solidworks. And to make things worse, there aren’t many online tutorials to help you understand how to best use this 3D modeling program, unlike Solidworks. This further makes the learning curve steeper, thereby needing more time to learn how to use it properly.   

Pros and Cons Of Solidworks


  • You’re allowed to choose between a trial or demo version 
  • It enables collaboration with several users especially viewing and reviewing
  • An excellent choice for solid modeling projects on machinery and mechanics 
  • It’s ideal for beginners thanks to its ease of navigating 
  • It boasts exceptional rendering skills 
  • It’s a mid-range item with low prices


  • You get limited support 
  • It doesn’t have role-based differentiation 
  • It lacks many other features despite being perfect for 3D modeling  
  • It can only be used on Windows 

Pros and Cons Of CATIA 


  • It’s compatible with both Unix and Windows 
  • It comes incorporated with Modelica libraries
  • The publishing of new upgrades and updates gets done often 
  • It’s ideal for doing complicated projects in numerous fields 
  • You’re provided with extensive support 
  • It’s a robust program with lots of modules and advanced features 


  • It’s somewhat too complicated for beginners 
  • You don’t get a trial version, and instead of a demo upon request 
  • It’s a costly high-end 3D modeling software 


If you’re conflicted about which 3D modeling software between CATIA and Solidworks, this detailed article has helped you understand what to expect from each of them.

From the insights above, it’s clear that CATIA is the better 3D modeling software since, in addition to a simple and intuitive user interface, it boasts many tools and features.

As a result, it’s very practical because it enables you to optimize the performance and weight of complex products, which is especially crucial in the engineering field. 

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