CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE-on-the-Cloud brings High Power Design Tools to Small Design Teams

BHR leverages cloud-based design tools for their lightweight helicopter.

Pascal Bernuchon, BHR President.

BHR, a manufacturer of small lightweight helicopters, was among the first to implement Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE on the Cloud. BHR’s challenge was to design a helicopter that would meet their constraints for aerodynamics, performance and safety standards while maintaining a low price point.

Historically, many small companies have not used CATIA due to the traditional license structure and the expensive hardware infrastructure it required.

The Cost Dilemma

Traditionally, the price of a single standard CAD license can run anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $50,000+ for a premium version. This range of estimates doesn’t include the cost of license renewal, maintenance, hardware and training. Therefore, unless design is a continuous activity, small and mid-range manufacturers often find it hard to justify the cost of such full-featured software.

With CATIA on the Cloud Dassault aims to level the playing field for CAD prices by eliminating the need to invest upfront in a high performance hardware infrastructure. The cloud approach allows companies like BHR to gain immediate access to the kind of sophisticated integrated design environment used by larger engineering organizations, at a fraction of the cost.  Additionally, BHR says that they were able to configure their cloud installation and run it within a few minutes.


CATIA = Premium

Antoine Leroux, Project Manager at BHR,
setting up a rich rendered mechanical simulation.

CATIA’s propriety CGM kernel, with multi-core processor support and industry specific intelligence, has been developed over decades. This is reflected in premium pricing for customers who want to own the CATIA integrated design environment. Dassault Systèmes has a long a history of implementing CATIA for large customers such as Boeing, Airbus, US Navy, BMW, and Porsche.

With the new cloud-based service, Dassault is hoping that smaller companies like BHR will take advantage of the features that CATIA offers such as surface modeling, styling and support for mechanical, electrical, composites and systems engineering.

Here is a list of some of the CATIA processes available on the Cloud:




Concept Creative Design

Creative Design

Showreel Experience

Reverse & Prototype Experience

Systems Engineering

Systems Architecture Engineering

Systems Dynamics & Performance Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

3DMaster Conceptual Design

Mechanical Design Engineering

Mechanical & Shape Design Engineering

Mechanical Detailed Design Engineering

Mechanism Design Engineering

3DMaster Engineering

Sheet Metal Design Engineering

Mechanical Engineering for Industrial Equipment

Machine & Equipment Design Engineering

Multi-Discipline Engineering

Composites Design Engineering

Composites Manufacturing Preparation

Plastic Part Design Engineering

Mold Tooling Design Engineering

Virtual to Real Product Optimization

Mechanical Design & Tooling

Buildings Space Planning

Electrical & Fluids Engineering

Electrical & Fluid Systems Design

Electrical 3D Design Engineering

Capture & Reuse Engineering Intent

Design Rules and Templates Capture & Reuse

Know-how Capture and Reuse

Product Optimization


Collaboration and Social Connections

Smaller companies like BHR tend to rely heavily on direct communication with their customers. Dassault Systèmes has designed CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE on the Cloud to offer location-agnostic content sharing. This communication is further supported through the social and collaborative tools in the CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE.

BHR Engineer collaborating on helicopter design.

A designer can directly connect with the design team and interact via: live chat, questions, solution posts, and ideas sharing and voting. Designers participating in the community can also share pictures, videos and even models in the cloud space.

CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE allows multiple designers to modify the shape and position of different components simultaneously within the same assembly. This is possible because assemblies are exposed in the PLM database so different users can concurrently work on the same assembly. Designers in the same location, or in totally different locations using CATIA over the internet, end up with a concurrent design experience.

Contributors with access to the project can contribute their own designs.  Project leaders can then directly incorporate the contributor’s design ideas in the main project. Essentially, the integration of social communities within the CATIA cloud service makes collaboration a part of the design process rather than a separate activity. However, this might come as an uneasy transition for designers accustomed to working in traditional environments.

The secure nature of collaboration restricts what process or model access a project manager can grant to a contributor and their visibility into aspects of the design.  For example, BHR Project Manager Antoine Leroux set up rich rendered mechanical simulations to send to BHR’s customers using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

BHR claims that this way of using CATIA enabled them to access the latest data in real time across physical locations which in turn opens their opportunities to develop new markets, improve productivity and design more complex products in the future.  


Target Customer

Dassault Systèmes believe CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE on the Cloud will have an immediate appeal to smaller companies, such as those who need fewer than ten seats.  Customers who are not comfortable with a cloud platform for their primary design activities may also use it for pilot projects before fully committing to traditional licenses.

At this point Dassault Systèmes has not publically announced the pricing and terms of usage.

For more information, Manufacturers and Engineers can watch a 15 minute webinar to get an overview of the CATIA Conceptual Mechanical Engineering.

Dassault Systèmes has paid a fee to to promote CATIA  3DEXPERIENCE.  They have no editorial input to this post.  All opinions are mine. – Sanjeev Pal