CATIA vs SOLIDWORKS: 4 Major reasons to choose one over the other

  • CATIA is a Product Lifecycle Management program
  • SOLIDWORKS is a parametric 3D modeling software
  • CATIA is focused on the entire project from beginning to end
  • SOLIDWORKS is an industry leader in 3D modeling

Be in expert in 5 minutes! CATIA vs SOLIDWORKS based on 4 main features. Which one is better? What is the difference between SOLIDWORKS and CATIA. All this is covered in this article.

It can be hard to differentiate between the multitude of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software programs that are on the market today. Here at EngineeringClicks, we know this struggle all too well. We have compared and contrasted multiple CAD programs in past articles, and we are here today to walk you through the newest battle in our archives, CATIA vs SOLIDWORKS!

It can be frustrating when you are searching for a direct comparison between two software options that you are choosing between. You may only find singular descriptions of each program, and/or comparisons between the program you are interested in and other programs not on your radar. We are giving the direct comparison between CATIA and SOLIDWORKS that users need!

CATIA vs SOLIDWORKS – Main differences



CATIA was brought out in 1977, and is now under the control of Dassault Systèmes®. It falls under the category of a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) program, which basically means that it manages data while product development occurs. The focus of this program is to improve workflow and productivity, as there are typically many professionals and teams working on the same project.

It is a powerful 3D modelling program, it is mainly used in the aeronautics, aerospace and automotive fields. With CATIA, you can design cars, aircraft and many other complicated machines. The tools it provides can be specifically customized to a company’s needs, like Boeing, who use CATIA to manufacture their line of products.


SOLIDWORKS in another product under the ownership of Dassault Systèmes®, which was released in 1995. It is a parametric 3D modelling software, which means that it is controlled by dimensional values. Therefore, when the dimensions on the model are changed, the model changes. SOLIDWORKS comes with a wide range of tools, like simulation, rendering, assemblies of parts and many others.

SOLIDWORKS is an industry leader and is used worldwide by professionals, like engineers. It is also used as an educational tool to teach at many engineering and mechanical-based schools. It has an intuitive interface that is not too intimidating to a first-time user, and has many different features available to its users.



CATIA has versatile and sophisticated tools for sketching, drawing, and modeling. It is a more difficult program to use than most, but your extra effort and skills will be rewarded with excellent results that are imaginative and accurate. This refers to CATIA’s very smooth three-dimensional rendering and Photo-to-Shape app, which help users to create and develop 3D models from 2D photos.


SOLIDOWORK’s main use is three-dimensional modeling, so that is where it dominates the industry and is known world-wide for. As mentioned previously, it is a parametric modeling software, so when the dimensions of the model are modified, the model is reshaped accordingly by the computer. SOLIDWORKS is great for designing various products related to machinery. However, it does lack some of the vital tools needed for work on architecture, so keep that in mind.

CATIA vs SOLIDWORKS: Collaboration


CATIA provides a cloud environment that gives users the ability to collaborate with multiple other team members. It can help you to capture, store, and share all of your new ideas with ease and at high speed. It also includes something called role-based differentiation of functionality. CATIA has more than 50 roles available at any one time for use, so project management becomes even easier.


SOLIDWORKS includes a lot of the same functionality that CATIA brings, except it does not have the role-based differentiation of functionality. It is quite easy to use and is intuitive, however the collaborative features of SOLIDWORKS are quite limited. They are mainly focused on sharing and reviewing, more than actually designing or creating projects.



CATIA is a robust program that takes pride in their efficient support system, as a new updated version of the software has come out every year since 2006. It comes with around 129 original products that users can avail of, and these give the user pretty much unlimited options. It also integrates Modelica libraries seamlessly, meaning that the CATIA software can utilize them to their full extent. CATIA is known as one of the most flexible and universal CAD programs on the market, and provides a great option if you need to focus on a whole project, and not just the design phase.


SOLIDWORKS is what’s known as a “thin” 3D modeling program, which means that it does keep the overall process simple and fast, but it does limit the overall options and possibilities within the software. SOLIDWORKS is compatible with Modelica libraries, but they are not actually integrated into the software, which limits their possibilities. It does however, have dozens of partner products for Product Data Management or CAD design that do extend the user’s options, but compared to the competition, SOLIDWORKS is still behind in this category.

CATIA vs SOLIDWORKS: Compatibility


CATIA is mainly compatible with just Windows operating platforms, but it can also work with Unix operating systems. These are systems that are well known for their multi-user functionality and great multitasking capabilities. It can also be accessed through a mobile application through Dassault Systèmes’® 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform.


SOLIDWORKS just works on Windows computers. If you want to use it on your Mac computers, there is actually an option. You can run a virtual Windows parallel, as this is a new feature that SOLIDWORKS has started to support. However, it is reported that there are serious drawbacks and limitations to this method, outside the hassle of getting a virtual version of Windows set up in the first place. SOLIDWORKS does support macOS in some of its other products, like eDrawings, Professional, eDrawings Viewer, and eDrawings itself.

So which program do you think wins this battle? We would love to hear your thoughts on both options in the comments below. See you soon!

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