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CATIA V5 vs 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA: Key Differences in Design, Collaboration and Simulation Capabilities

MEMKO > Knowledge Hub > 3DEXPERIENCE > CATIA V5 vs 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA: Key Differences in Design, Collaboration and Simulation Capabilities

CATIA from Dassault Systèmes is one of the leading CAD tools for 3D modelling worldwide. CATIA V5 (connected through Powerby integration) remains the most well-known tool over 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA (also referred to as CATIA V6), yet more and more users are transitioning over to the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. So practically speaking, what are the main differences between the two?

When companies are evaluating transitioning from CATIA V5 to 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA, they may raise various questions including:

  1. Why do we require 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA even though CATIA V5 is an advanced and capable CAD tool?
  2. What shortcomings does CATIA V5 have, and how does 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA overcome them?
  3. All our engineers are well experienced in the CATIA V5 tool, is transitioning to 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA a good return on investment?
  4. What advantages does an organization gain by deploying 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA?

This blog provides clarifications and detailed explanations of the intricate differences between these tools to help you make an informed decision.


If we were to define 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA in brief, we can say it is:

An advanced CAD modelling tool that empowers mechanical designers with flexibility in modelling, ease of learning, geometry reuse, efficient assembly handling, integrated simulation, and a focus on manufacturability, all fostering innovation and successful product development.

While this may seem overwhelming, let’s break it down and see how each tool compares in regards to interface, design capabilities, collaboration, kinematics and more.


While the CATIA V5 offers a familiar interface, over time it can become overwhelming for users due to scattered toolbars. 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA offers a more modern interface which is much more intuitive and has best-in-class ergonomics. The toolbars are functionally grouped with the right commands, making it easier for users to find and navigate quickly, yet they remain highly customizable to suit the user’s preferences.

3DEXPERIENCE CATIA also introduces “Contextual menus” which has appropriate commands appearing under the mouse cursor upon selecting the respective element. The handy “Action Pad” empowers users to customize and efficiently access frequently used commands, and the “App Options” box enables quick access to various visualisation modes, filters etc. All of these features ultimately contribute to a faster workflow and reduces modelling time.


Design Capabilities

CATIA V5 and 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA are both very capable modelling programs, however, 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA contains several capabilities that are not available in CATIA V5 that help make the design process easier and faster.

3DEXPERIENCE CATIA has a vast number of roles that are well-equipped with advanced apps that suit the responsibilities of designers to perform all the required tasks on an integrated platform. Let’s discover a few of them and see how they compare with CATIA V5 capabilities:


1. Direct Modelling Capabilities (Conceptual Designing): Whilst CATIA V5 currently lacks direct modelling capabilities, the 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA “Natural Shape” App brings direct modelling capabilities to shape a part and control its modifications through direct manipulations like push and pull, without using any features. This can also be used to easily modify existing models from other CAD systems. It also has conversion capabilities to transform these recognized conceptual designs into detailed designs, in other words, converting a “multibody part to multipart product” while keeping all the relations intact.

Design Capabilities 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA

2. Advanced Component Family Management: With the new “Component Family Definition” App, users can easily generate and manage both standard parts and standard assemblies. In CATIA V5, this capability is limited to parts and lacks knowledge of their traceability.

Component Family Management

3. Data Exchange (Eng IP Control App): With the dedicated “Engineering IP Control” app, users can create datasets from complex products, apply filters and remove company IP information before exchanging it externally.

Data Exchange

4. Manage and Compare Complex Products: With a dedicated “Lifecycle Management” app, users can not only generate new revisions, branches and manage change maturity, but they can also compare complex products with ease and see the differences more intuitively. In CATIA V5, data management is difficult and carries the risk of broken links, resulting in the time-consuming task of cleaning these up.

5. Handling Large Assembly: With the “Product Finder” app, it is easy to navigate through the tessellated geometry of a large assembly and apply filters based on volume, attributes, and configuration. This helps open desired components in the authoring session quickly. This feature is very useful when working with a 150% configured product, by applying filters for ‘effectivity’ and ‘variant’, quickly open the product of the desired configuration and work on.

Handling Large Assembly


The robust CAD architecture of 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA facilitates users to work with complex design workflows effortlessly. By using the “Design Review” app, reviewers can instantly evaluate the data and also maintain the evaluated data within the platform, associating it with the CAD Structure and change objects seamlessly integrating into the Change Management system with complete traceability.

Business Intelligence Tool

Another key aspect that sets 3DEXPERIENC CATIA apart from CATIA V5 is its Business Intelligence Tool. Found within the 3DEXPERIENCE Apps, the tool offers a useful capability to quickly evaluate many characteristics of a product. The components of the product assume different colours depending on their characteristics such as:

  • Weight (computed, declared, missed)
  • Maturity state
  • Last release
  • Costs
  • Customer Attributes

Showing the coloured 3D display of engineering information through Business Intelligence helps users make identifications easier.

Business Intelligence Tool


Although CATIA V5 models can be directly used in SIMULIA Apps to perform various simulations, some features may not translate perfectly and additional effort is needed for seamless integration whenever there happens to be a design change. In contrast, the product structure defined in 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA offers tighter integration cascading the changes and its modified geometry is immediately accessible for various types of simulations (structural, thermal, fluid dynamics, acoustic, electromagnetic, etc.) and for different manufacturing processes, such as NC Programming and Simulation, Manufacturing BOM Creation, Process Planning Definition etc., thereby facilitating the workflow of a digital twin.


The 3DEXPERIENCE Platform also introduces MODSIM (Modelling and Simulation), a new strategic method in alignment with industry 4.0 practices and serving as a significant differentiator against the competition. Introduced are new-age apps for direct integration methodology through roles like Function Driven Generative Designer, Structural Generative Designer & Lattice Designer for faster collaboration between CAD & Simulation models in both directions. Additionally, by integrating into the “Process Composer” app, an optimization tool can be used without restrictions for 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA models.

Additive Manufacturing Simulation

Kinematics & Dynamic Simulation

Engineering connection between parts within an assembly, whether it involves sliding motion or revolute motion, is defined by constituting various meaningful combinations of constraints. In CATIA V5, the user has to create individual constraints and group them manually to form a meaningful engineering connection. For a user working on a complex assembly, it becomes challenging to manage these engineering connections and create a kinematic model. This key challenge in V5 is properly addressed in 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA, where users can define engineering connections with ease and transform them into kinematic mechanisms or macro mechanisms.


3DEXPERIENCE CATIA can also easily create dynamic simulations on kinematic mechanisms using various parameters such as Weight, Inertia, Motor Excitation, Spring, Damping, bushing etc., and generate motion simulation results for the following:

  • Joint Forces
  • Swept Volumes and Traces
  • Position, Speed and Acceleration Measures
  • Curve Plots
  • Animation Creation
Dynamics Simulation

Knowledge Applications and Business Rule

Last but not least, what sets 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA apart from other tools, including CATIA V5, is its powerful capabilities in “knowledge” applications, where users can define standard CAD models and features and reuse them across projects, saving time and maintaining quality. Speaking of quality, defining and applying business rules throughout the design process automatically ensures adherence to quality standards.

The Engineering Knowledge Language (EKL) is an exclusive programming language available in 3DEXPERIENCE for defining business rules in the database, which are automatically activated when certain events occur. For instance, a business rule can be defined such that a part or assembly cannot be released without weight definition.

We’ve only covered some of the key differences between CATIA V5 and 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA. Overall, we can see that transitioning from CATIA V5 to 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA offers significant value in enabling real-time collaboration, integrated design and simulation, and scalable data management, addressing critical challenges faced by industries relying on traditional CAD tools and accelerating innovation.

Not taking action to embrace this transition may result in continued data silos, limited collaboration, and productivity bottlenecks, hindering competitiveness and innovation potential. However, by implementing a structured transition plan with thorough training, data migration, and risk mitigation strategies, industries can unlock the full benefits of 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA, driving accelerated design cycles, cost savings, and improved collaboration across teams and departments.

Talk to us about making the switch to 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA. You can book in a free demo session or speak to a product session about your needs.

About the Author: Arjun Palepu

PLM Solution Architect

Arjun Palepu is a PLM Solution Architect with expertise in CAD Design/modelling and DS 3DEXPERIENCE PLM solution implementation thanks to over 12 years of experience in the Aerospace and Defence domain. Having practical experience working with various CAD tools and different versions of PLM platforms of DS offerings, Arjun has extensive knowledge of industry transformation to 4.0 and is passionate about sharing his experience, insights and perspectives on advanced CAD tools with the industry.


Experience the power of CATIA on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables you to understand your real world better by modeling your enterprise virtually. By using powerful 3D solutions you can design, simulate, test and train your supply chain, assets, products and processes.

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