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Computational Design with 3DEXPERIENCE

Computational Design with 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA

Architecture student Claudia Siric undertook work experience at MEMKO learning about the application of CATIA in a construction environment. Read about her learnings below and discover CATIA’s capabilities.

Topics discussed include:

  • How to make Power Copies in 3DEXPERIENCE
  • Instantiation of Power Copy Demo’
  • An Introduction into User Defined Features (UDF)
  • How to use Engineering Templates
  • What is a Parameter?
  • What is a formula?
  • Event Assembly Type

Power Copies within 3DEXPERIENCE

A Power Copy consists of a body, 3D shape reference, which, may have various features that are able to be implemented into a new location. Inputs and parameters are controlled through referenced elements – these consist of: Features, Inputs, Variables, Parameters, etc. In reference to the video below the Screw’s input is the Orientation Axis that is created in both the centre of the Screw and the instantiation Environment (box). Power Copies can be easily modified through either the exposed parameters, or the geometry itself. In the videos above you will see how to create a Power Copy and how to instantiate it into another model.

Claudia Siric
Claudia Siric

About the Author

Claudia worked at MEMKO as a Computational Architecture Design from February 2019 – November 2021 whilst completing a Bachelor of Architecture at Swinburne University of Technology. Claudia has gone on to complete a Master of Architecture at Melbourne University.


The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a single digital environment for product development. From Aerospace and Defence to High Tech and Construction, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform by Dassault Systèmes is suitable for even the most complex industries.

The platform serves as a business and innovation software that provides organizations with a holistic, real-time vision of their business activity and ecosystem. It connects people, ideas, data and solutions in a single collaborative environment empowering businesses – from startups to large enterprises, to innovate, produce and trade in entirely new ways.

Instantiation of Power Copy Demo

I would use a Power Copy when there is a need to rapidly generate and automate a repetitive process that have the same input conditions. For example, if I were wanting to generate a pattern that would allow me to have a base location for a roof or wall structure I would ensure that both the Power Copy and building’s environment inputs have specific start and end points, a base line running from the start and end point; and an orientation axis. This would then allow me to generate a set of roof/wall structural systems all at once due to the Power Copy foundation that was done prior.

An Introduction into User Defined Features (UDF)

A User Defined Feature template contains features that are instantiated in a new location. It allows you to extract the required information from a model that enables the rapid evaluation of the overall design. A UDF consists mainly of geometry that are based off individual inputs, and parameters, etc. These inputs enable the UDF to be reused and adaptable in any new environment.

I would use a UDF in a scenario where I would be creating a library of different variations of a particular model, for example, a wall or roof structure. I would then create a UDF for each of the different variations that would allow me to populate them throughout my Building’s Environment. The inputs I would use would be the exterior surface of walls or roof, the start and end points and an orientation axis. Having this operation where I can easily and efficiently choose where  the wall/roof structure goes allows for a quicker assembling of a building’s structure.

How to use Engineering Templates

Engineering Templates enables the user to describe how to duplicate a component (Products, Parts, etc.) in a more efficient and organised way. Engineering Templates re-use preexisting components and embeds them together, to be used in a new variation of the original design. An Engineering Template is very similar to a User Defined Features and a Power Copy but operate in a much larger scale.

I would use an Engineering Template when modelling a structural member/beam so that it has the ability via parameters to manipulate itself in any given building environment. I would have in both the member/beam model and building environment a set of inputs that would allow the member/beam to be easily instantiated. The inputs would be as simple as a Centre Line and an Orientation Axis, this would ensure the member/beam would be instantiated through the middle of the building environment’s skeleton placement lines.


A parameter controls specific geometry when constrained by a formula. When creating a parameter, you must connect a formula to it in order to be able to link the parameter to the geometry.

What is a formula?

A formula connects and constrains the parameter to geometry to enable the parameter to have control of the model’s geometry. Formulas are written using operators and functions of all different types to enable a parameter to perform. For example, when you create a sketch you are able to constrain the geometry and can include a parameter within the model. Once you’ve got both parts you are then able to add a formula which will link a particular part of the sketch’s geometry to the parameter. This then ensures that if you were wanting to make the sketch larger in dimension you are able to change just the parameter, and not go back into the sketch and change it manually.

I would use both parameters and formulas in any given scenario where I want to further automate a model. As they allow you change absolutely everything about the model via a quick change of length, orientation, true or false, etc. For example, if I were to create a structural member, I would first create a sketch and all the sketches outline geometry would all be constrained. I would then create a set of parameters (Height, Width, Length) and use a formula to connect both the members sketch and the parameters. Not only geometry can be parameterised but also a solid. If I was then to extrude the member to make it a solid, I would have a parameter and joining formula to have the length of the member parameterised.

Event Assembly Type


Element Assembly Type is an information hub where different types of Logics are stored in one space to then instantiate the combined components into a desired location. It is an approach that allows the model to change its LOD (Level of Development) at a particular detailed level. An Element Assembly Type consists of 3 sections which help combine all the different features together, they are BIM Attributes, Resource Table and Warnings. They’re implemented in the Element Assembly Type to ensure that every feature complement each other to ensure when coming to instantiating the model, it will successfully produce the model.

I would use it in every aspect where I want to instantiate a whole building’s structural elements, from the floor to the roof. As an Element Assembly Type allows you to instantiate a lot of knowledge at once to change the Level of Development throughout the overall model.