Solidworks and CATIA are two computer-aided design (CAD) software packages published by Dassault Systèmes and widely used in the fields of engineering, mechanical design and design in general. Both tools are now powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. But what’s the difference between these two software packages, and which one should you choose to launch your industrial startup?

3DEXPERIENCE Solidworks is a parametric 3D CAD software package for creating parts, assemblies and 2D drawings. It’s ideal for projects involving small and medium-sized teams (between 1 and 200 designers, engineers, etc.), requiring fast, flexible design. The average size of a design office using SolidWorks is around 2 people. Solidworks offers an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, as well as a wide range of functionalities for 3D modeling, simulation, animation, realistic rendering and more. Solidworks is also compatible with numerous file formats (Parasolid, Inventor, SolidEdge, Creo, …), making it easy to share and collaborate with other software.

CATIA(CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE or CATIA V5) is CAD software for more “global” teams, enabling them to design complex, innovative assemblies. It is ideally suited to large-scale, part-intensive projects requiring a very high level of revision and life-cycle management, enabling several dozen engineers from different companies to work together on a virtual mock-up with optimum quality. CATIA offers a more complex and customizable interface. Some CATIA versions are thus completely “created” for specific sectors or even customers. Around the concept of “Roles”, CATIA is the basis for highly advanced modules providing access to numerous specialized modules for modeling, analysis, calculation, rendering and product lifecycle management. CATIA manages multi-physical and multi-disciplinary systems.

Another very important criterion is the “ecosystem” in which you work. If your start-up is destined to offer products in the aerospace, defense or mass-production automotive sectors, it’s highly likely that the heads of your production lines will be equipped with CATIA. It’s always preferable to use the same software as your client or future industrial partner. Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Boeing all use CATIA. Ditto for Renault, Stellantis, Toyota, … and more than 80% of the mass-production automotive industry.

In conclusion, Solidworks and CATIA are two powerful CAD programs, but they meet different needs. For startups, this means choosing the software best suited to their field of activity, budget and level of expertise. Solidworks is easier to use and less expensive, but offers fewer possibilities than CATIA. CATIA is more powerful and more complete, but requires more learning time and investment.