Well, shove some translated geometry in my eye! Here’s something you may not have known. Dassault (SolidWorks) has developed a CATIA to SolidWorks translator so you can import the hundreds of millions of CATIA files you’ve stored up over the years. It doesn’t ship with SolidWorks. It’s not anywhere in the software. It’s not a free add-on or a download available through the SolidWorks Customer Portal. It’s only available through one place. Any guesses?

Here are the facts:

  • It works with V5 files and not V4 or V6
  • Only works with stand-alone SolidWorks seats and not networked ones
  • It uses the actual Dassault developed CATIA .dll’s (The other CATIA translators do not)
  • It only brings over bodies as dumb geometry
  • It costs $3000 plus $1000 per year for maintenance
  • It’s only available through a Value added reseller (VAR)

Ouch. 3k for a few bits of dumb geometry? Worth it?

Really, there are not many ways to look at this. Just because a SolidWorks user can import CATIA files, it doesn’t diminish the sales of CATIA and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to be doing the work a CATIA user is doing. The reason many SolidWorks users need/want this is simply because their customers (typically OEM’s) use it and they need to import their reference data.

Why SolidWorks doesn’t include this in the main product is a bit odd, but also a bit obvious. There are two teams at play here, SolidWorks and Dassault. (Yeah, they’re the same company… yeah right.) There are still battle lines drawn. If a CATIA reseller can take over a company that uses SolidWorks, whatcha think they’re going to do? And if a SolidWorks reseller can take over a CATIA house, whatcha think they’re gonna do?

I hear a lot of people complain about not being able to import CATIA files. I’m involved in the aircraft industry, so that’s probably a little more common. If there was more of a demand for it, it’s likely we would have seen it in the import options a while ago. But there’s still the competitive angle. SolidWorks doesn’t have it because it competes with CATIA. The other software (Autodesk Inventor, SpaceClaim, Pro/E) does have it because they compete with SolidWorks and CATIA. Simple. As. That.

Ok, so there are a lot of tangents you can take from here. Which one do you want to go down?

Update: Just to answer some offline questions. This is actually unofficial, official. Neither SolidWorks or Dassault are publicizing it. I came across the information at the recent Dassault Systemes Customer Conference, confirmed with several people there and followed up with some VAR’s for pricing info and functionality.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.