When to use CATIA V5 automation?

Automating tasks and process in CATIA V5 with macros can be a great way to save time and improve efficiency. But not every task requires a lengthy macro code to be written, tested, debugged, and rolled out to the entire team. There is a good time and a bad time to use macros in your everyday job. You don’t want to waste time writing a program if it is never going to be used, or if there is a simple non-macro solution. Sometimes using macros can be a little overkill, you know, like fishing with dynamite.

When is a good time to use CATIA automation? Listed below is a series of questions that should be asked in deciding whether or not to invest the time and cost in developing an automation application. These questions are:

  1. Are there large numbers of CATIA users who need to reuse variants of the same components (parts or products) repetitively? Instead of using a “start part” or template, sometimes it makes more sense to have a macro that builds the foundations of a new component on the fly.
  1. Does the time and cost expended in repetitive modeling warrant an automation solution? We all know CATIA is a powerful program. Many times there is already a solution to your problem, you just don’t know it. For example, maybe it is better to use a design table then automatically creating brand new parts.
  1. Are there modeling tasks that would be practically impossible to do manually?
  1. Does an automated solution enhance the productivity of a non-skilled user of CATIA V5? Macros are a great way to eliminate human errors.
  1. Can an automated solution enhance productivity of downstream product development activities?
  1. Can automation facilitate integration of activities?
  1. Can automation reduce the time for managing large numbers of CATIA models? You can do batch processing with CATIA macros, like converting hundreds of CATParts into IGS files.

Have you run into any applications where using a macro was a waste of time? How do you decide if you should spend the time required to write a new program? I’d love to hear your success and failure stories!

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