CATIA vs NX: CAD Software Compared

Updated Sep 30, 2021

The development of CAD for the creation, modification, optimization of designs and models is one of the world’s most important innovations. This technology saves a lot of money and time, increases design quality, and even reduces risks of life and property loss with the help of simulations to check the functionality. CAD is used in all product-related industries such as mechanical, construction, transportation, and electronics. Almost everything around you, from furniture, cars, buildings, to skyscrapers, began as a CAD model.

In the early days of CAD, CAD programs were very few, inaccessible, and limited to particular industries. There was the problem of getting a CAD application. Today, however, the has become selecting the program that would be suitable for your project, as a plethora of applications is now available. At Scan2CAD, we provide you with descriptive articles, comparing various CAD programs to help you choose the right application for your project.

In this article, we will be comparing two multidisciplinary CAD software giants, CATIA, and NX. We will explore their histories, capabilities, and users, before going through a direct “CATIA vs. NX” comparison.

working on system


In 1977, CATI, now known as CATIA, began as an in-house development by Avion Marcel Dassault, a French aircraft manufacturer,  to provide 3D surface modeling and NC functions for CADAM (software that was used for the development of fighter jets). Marcel created a subsidiary company, Dassault systemes in 1981, and officially released the first version of CATIA in 1982 in France. Through the years, the software has grown exponentially in terms of functionality and versatility and is globally used by a myriad of industries. CATIA V6 is the latest version and is compatible with Windows and Unix operating systems. 

What does CATIA do?

Modeling in CATIA

Modeling in CATIA (source)

CATIA is a suite of CAD applications that provides solutions for computer-aided design, manufacture, and engineering. This well-endowed software takes you through the complete design process from the product’s conceptualization, design, and engineering, to its manufacturing. You get to design and collaborate in an interactive environment. The wide array of tools for every function makes working with CATIA seamless. The capabilities are divided into construction, design and styling, engineering, and systems engineering. 


For construction, CATIA offers tools for the complete design and engineering processes for both small scale and complex construction projects. In this discipline, collaboration among stakeholders and designers across different project phases is very important in the project’s development. CATIA offers the virtual twin technology, which acts as a common language that facilitates collaboration between the architects, engineers, owners, and other personnel involved in the project. 

The software also enables the users to create high-level detailed models of industry standards, generate accurate bills of materials, extract associative 2D documents from 3D models, and do many other things.  CATIA makes the construction process straightforward and easy. 

Design and styling

Design and styling play a major role in project development. With CATIA, you’re sure to attain a high level of quality and surface sophistication using the right design tools for the physical and virtual prototype. This software also provides you with all the needed tools for design creativity in 3D sketching, subdivision surface, A class module, 3D printing, reverse engineering, and visualization. The major benefits are the industrial design and advanced surface modeling features. 


The software offers a ton of properties in the mechanical engineering discipline. CATIA provides an environment for the rapid development of high-quality mechanical products (parts, assemblies)

The program enables digital prototyping, combined with digital analysis and simulation which allows the development team to virtually create and analyze a mechanical product in one environment. The design of machine components such as parts and assemblies is effortless with CATIA. 

Who uses CATIA?

CATIA’s myriad of functionalities and capabilities makes it used by members from many industries. It is used by mechanical engineers, fluid and systems engineers, electrical designers, builders, and many other industry professionals. 


The development NX, formerly known as Unigraph, began when a software company, United Computing released UNIPAT (one of the first end-user CAD products) and purchased father drafting and machining code from MGS in 1973. This code was the foundation for the product later known as Unigraphics. The purchase of SDRC I-DEAS kick-started the trials to integrate the aspects of both software packages into one package. This became the new NX. Through the years, a lot of enhancements and modifications have been made in the software, like the addition of industrial design and modeling enhancements.

The software has been owned by Siemens PLM software since 2007. Its latest version was released in June 2020 and is compatible with Mac, Unix, and Windows operating systems. 

What does NX do?

Modeling in NX

Modeling in NX (source)

NX is an industry-leading 3D modeling application with toolsets that provide solutions for computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering. This program supports the full process of product development from conceptualization, 3D modeling, documentation, to manufacturing. 

The toolsets are NX design, NX CAM, and NX CAE, under which you will find 3D design, simulation, model analysis, collaboration, and many other tools. 


The extra-flexible and innovative design toolset and features speed up and simplify the product development process. With NX, you get to use more virtual product models, thereby reducing or avoiding expensive and physical prototypes. 

The toolset offers highly effective tools for 2D design, layout, drafting, annotation, and documentation. With its drafting tools, you can automatically generate engineering drawings from 3D models; also from parts and assemblies. They also offer tools for each mechatronic concept design, electrical design, product modeling, and many others 


Using NX CAM, you are provided with a virtual industrialized manufacturing environment, where you can design, prepare, and validate production equipment and design tools for manufacturing and quality control. With the CAM software, you can automate NC programming and, using the intelligent high-speed cutting, reduce cycle time, and produce better parts and the automated based machining. Furthermore, there are tools for robot automation and tooling and fixture design.


The NX CAE capability offers simulation solutions. The importance and significance of simulation in product design can never be overemphasized. It enables you to evaluate different design alternatives, conduct experiments repeatedly, and gain new insights into the workability of the products. 

The comprehensive set of simulation tools in NX CAE facilitates the manufacturer to incorporate performance simulation in the early stages of the development, thereby making room for more design options and making a smarter product decision.

Furthermore, unlike other CAE applications, NX offers an integrated analysis model with simulation for thermal, flow, structural, motion, multiphysics, and optimization in a single environment. 

Who uses NX?

NX is a suite of CAD applications with solutions for CAD, CAM, and CAE. With these multidisciplinary features and functions, professionals from a plethora of industries use the application for their products. Industries like transportation, automotive, aerospace, construction, and manufacturing. Some companies that use NX in their production are Sterling Engineering Inc, CEG partners, Boeing, and Virgin Orbit. 




It is compatible with only Windows and Unix operating systems

Compatible with Mac, Windows, and Unix -only operating systems

CATIA is more expensive in terms of the subscription rate

It is cheaper

Offers collaboration solution via the connection with the 3D Experience platform

Used the Teamcenter integration for its collaboration

The software is offered as a subscription-based and perpetual license

Has an only subscription-based licensing o

You need third-party applications for some CAM functions 

NX offers a better integration solution of CAD and CAM 

High-class surface modeling features making it well utilized by the automotive industry

This feature is not as effective in NX but has other outstanding toolsets like its CAM

The interface is not as easy to navigate and learn as NX

NX has a more basic and modern interface, therefore, is easier to learn  


Both CATIA and NX are widely used, industry-leading, acclaimed applications for the design, development, and manufacture of products. Their workbenches offer integrated solutions for Computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering. With all their similar features, they are still some toolsets that outshine the other. Like the surface modeling features in CATIA are top-notch. That is why it is highly utilized in the automotive industry.

NX also offers a more integrated CAM toolset for product development compared to that of CATIA with which you might have to download some add-ons. We can’t say which of the programs is best, but we’ve been able to show you their properties and differences to help you decide which suits your project more. They also both offer free trials for you to check out the software. 

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