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Managing Large Assemblies in CATIA V5

Pat Coulehan
Application Consultant

July 13, 2006

Discuss different options available for
working with large amounts of data in
Discuss techniques for designing in
context when working with large
Discuss new functionality when creating
drawings from large assemblies
What Do all these options do?
Many options available in the contextual
menu of the product
5 Ways of managing data in CATIA V5
Show vs. No-Show
Node Activation vs. Node Deactivation
Activate component vs. Deactivate
Visualization Mode vs. Design
Load vs. Unload
1. Show vs No-Show
A tool to hide unwanted


Advantages: Improves Graphic Performance, Geometry still editable
Disadvantages: Ignored by drafting workbench, not used in DMU applications, used to
measure mass properties
2. Activate Node Vs. Deactivate Node
Manages graphic representation
Node deactivation No graphic
representation at all is loaded
Hide/Show Hide graphic
representation of specific elements in
Node Deactivation Hide graphic
representaton of entire model
Activate Node vs. Deactivate Node

Red Axis White Axis

Advantages: Better graphic performance, create/update assembly constraints
Disadvantages: Loaded in memory but geometry not modifiable, not used by drawings
ingored by DMU applications
Node activation / deactivation
Use contextual menu

Activate/Deactivate Node
Select a part instance

Activate/Deactivate Terminal
Node Select a product
instance. All parts under the
product will be
Options for Node Activations
Sets initial behavior when loaded into

3. Activate vs Deactivate Components

Dont confuse with Node

Hides the graphic representation of the
Activate vs Deactivate Components

Activated Deactivated
Component Component
Advantages: Better graphic performance, Can be accessed by knowledgeware
Disadvantages: Loaded into memory, cant update or edit geometry, ingnored by DMU
applications and the drafting workbench
Activate vs Deactivate Components
Can use contextual menu, not recommended
Use rules to have CATIA automatically toggle
component activation
Activate vs Deactivate Components
Using a Rule to control
the activation of a

4. Visualization vs. Design Mode

Improves performance by not loading

the mathematical data of the part into
memory, only a visual of the geometry
is loaded into memory.
Visualization Mode
First Time a part is loaded into CATIA using
visualization mode:
CATIA creates a lighter version of the model and
saves it to the hard drive.
Because it creates this light version the first time,
it takes longer to load.
Successive loads of this model, read the light
version, which results in a quicker load time and
better performance
File type .cgr CATIA Graphic Representation
CGR Files
Not Downward Compatible (Cgr files created
in V5R14 cannot be read by CATIA V5R13 or
Upward compatibility
Files are upward compatible.
However, in V5R14 cgr files were optimized
Recommend rebuild the cgr files if upgrading to V5R14
Set storage directory to server
Also called Released Cache
Accessing Visualization Mode

Activate Visualization Mode

Turn on the Cache
Requires a restart
Additional Options
Cache Location Place CATIA creates and saves
the cgr files
Read/write to the local cache first
Read/write to the released cache last
Released cache setup by administrator.
Should be read-only

Cache Size sets a limit for the size of the cache

directory. If limit is exceeded, cgr files are
deleted, with oldest being deleted first, until
directory size is below maximum size.

CATIA uses timestamps to see if the cgr

represents the latest version of the part.
If not, a new cgr is created.
Cache Location
Recommend not using the default location

Default Cache Location

C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\DassaultSystemes\CATCache

Sample File Location

C:\Documents and Settings\user\My Documents\CATIA\Oil Pump drive.CATPart

CGR File Location

C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\DassaultSystemes\CATCache\cgr\#2\Documents and
Settings\userjcosta\My Documents\CATIA\Oil Pump drive.CATPart.2004-04-22-15.45.42.cgr

Windows Limits: 255 characters for file name, including

directory. Typical file uses 193 characters and filename is
only 14 characters long.
Cache Options
Cgr Options
Save lineic Options CGR saves wireframe geometry
Cgr Options

Loads only a subset of the cgr file

Loads the entire cgr file when needed
Only works for cgr files built in V5R14 or higher
Cgr Options

Note: a cgr file is only updated when the CATPart it

relates to is modified, so making changes to these cgr
options does not automatically update the cgr
document. Delete the old cgr file and then CATIA
will generate the new file
Loading in Visualization Mode
Loading in Visualization Mode
Tesselated data

No Part History Name
Instance Name

Design Mode
Visualization Mode
Tesselated image
Quality of tesselated image controlled by accuracy
parameters. Tools+options General-Display-
Visualization Mode
Use less memory than Design Mode
Better Performance
Loads faster
Perform Clash Analysis
Perform Section Analysis
Retrieve Inertia properties
Visualization Mode
Perform Clash Analysis
Visualization Mode
Perform Section Analysis
Visualization Mode
Retrieve Inertia properties

Cgrs must be created with this

option on. Otherwise, the inertia is
calculated with the default density

Visualization Mode
Cannot edit the geometry
Cannot use to Design-in-Context
Cannot use Assembly constraints to
Some measurements are approximate.
Accuracy is based on the tesselation of the
cgr file
Ignored by drawing documents
Switching between design and
visualization mode
3 methods to convert from visualization to
design mode
Use the contextual menu- only option
available with this option turned off
Double click on the geometry or specification tree
Open the specification tree of the part
Must use contextual menu to switch from
design mode to visualization mode
Can only switch from design mode to
visualization mode if the cache is turned on
Switching between design and
visualization mode
Use the contextual menu (right mouse button)
Multi-selection is available
Only way to switch from design to visualization mode
Switching between design and
visualization mode
Double click on the geometry or
specification tree

Double click
Switching between design and
visualization mode
Open the specification tree of the part

Expand the tree

Switching between design and
visualization mode
CATIA automatically switches to design mode
when it needs to access the geometric data
Based on options
To update the assembly
For Design in Context
When creating a drawing
Automatic switching between design
and visualization mode

Update the Assembly

Recommend keeping this option turned off
for large assemblies
Only the components which are manually
loaded into design mode are updated.
Result: much better performance
Automatic switching between design
and visualization mode
Update the Assembly

Constraints cannot be updated in visualization mode,

automatically switch to design mode
Automatic switching between design
and visualization mode
Design in Context

Case.1 is in visualization mode

Create a sketch in screw CATPart

Sketch references geometry in Case.1

Case.1 automatically switches to design

Automatic switching between design
and visualization mode
Create a drawing
A component must be in design mode to be
processed by a drawing
Several options available to manage large
Drawings and visualization mode
Before creating a view, CATIA displays a

Stay in Visualization mode Converts all components to design mode

Previews quickly Takes longer to preview
Optimizes memory consumption Uses more memory
Recommended for large assemblies recommended for small assemblies or
individual parts
Drawings and visualization mode

To create a view

Loads only the necessary components Loads all components into memory
into memory
uses more memory and CPU
Uses less CPU and Memory
Generates view more quickly
Takes longer to generate the view
recommended for Large Assemblies
Drawings and visualization mode

View Generation Mode

Recommended. Try this first
Uses the CGR to generate the views.
Tesselated view, not as accurate
Uses less memory
Takes longer to generate
Drawings and visualization mode

View Generation Mode

Uses less memory than cgr
Is faster than cgr
Set LOD to control accuracy
Generates the view as an image
No dimensioning available
Drawings and visualization mode
View Generation Mode -
Exact CGR Approximate Raster

Memory Usage Maximu Less less minimum

Generation Time Short Long Long Quickest

Create all views Yes No No No

Create Dimensions All Some (No Some (No None

radius/diameter radius/diameter
s) s)
Associative dimensions Yes No No N/A
Dressup Elements available Yes Yes Yes No
Improving Graphic Performance in
Visualization Mode
Tools + Customize
Add two commands to a toolbar
Affect Dynamic movements only
Not persistent
Improving Graphic Performance in
Visualization Mode
Dynamic Level of detail
Varies from 0 40.0
Higher number = better performance
Dynamic Pixel Culling
Varies from 0 to 40
Higher number = better performance
Objects disappear when zooming in, reappear
when zooming out
Dynamic options only for current CATIA
Use defaults from settings at next login
Improving Graphic Performance in
Visualization Mode
Dynamic Pixel Culling
Improving Graphic Performance in
Visualization Mode
Dynamic Level of Detail
Improving Graphic Performance
Options can be set under tools-options

5. Unload Vs Load
Whether or not component is loaded into
No visualization
No Geometric information is loaded
Only thing visible is a node in the
specification tree
Load Vs Unload

Load Unload
Options for Load Vs Unload
Sets initial behavior when loaded into CATIA
Load/Unload component
Use contextual menu
Can unload Parts and Products
Load vs Unload
Not Graphically visible
Not used in DMU
Not used in Drafting
Cant update
Cant be accessed by knowledgeware
Not loaded into memory
Can see the assembly structure
Why is this Useful?
Load vs Unload
Use when designing components in the
context of a large assembly.
Components being designed only need to
reference data from several of the
components in the assembly
Load these components
Unload everything else
Significant performance improvement
Load vs Unload
2 components loaded
227 components unloaded
Norm Hidde Node Visualizatio Unload Deactivat
al n Deactivated n e
Loaded in Memory Fully Fully Fully Limited No Yes
Display Norm Faste Faster Normal Faster Faster
Performance al r
Visible in Show or Yes Yes No Yes No No
No Show
Visible in drafting Yes No No No No No
Create Assembly Yes Yes Yes No No No
Update Assembly Yes Yes Yes No No No
Calculate in Yes No No Yes No No
Calculate Mass Yes Yes No Depends No No
Take Measures Yes Yes No Approxima No No
Geometry Editable Yes Yes No No No No
Summary Which mode to use
Temporarily hide model
Hide a partial model
Visualization mode
DMU Analysis
Creating Drawings
Node Deactivation
Update BOM
Update Assembly constraints
Design in context
Deactivate Component
Using knowledgeware rules
Design in Context
Best to use a skeleton model to drive design
Manage Design Changes
Skeleton model

PartA PartB PartC

Without a Skeleton Model
Build a design loop
Difficult to control changes
PartB PartC

Content of Skeleton Model
Any information that will be shared by
multiple components
Geometry planes, lines, surface etc
Parameters radii of circles, lengths, etc
This information will be published
Access to this file should be restricted.
Skeleton Model Content



Setting up the options

Allows external references

Displays dialog box before

creating external links

Strongly recommended.
Increases stability of models
Design in Context
When designing, use the
geometry/parameters as if it were in the
active part.
The data is copied into the active part with a link
to the original data
Green Gear and link =
Design in context

Green P = External
Geometry is published
and updated
Updating External References
These external links can only be updated in
the context of the current assembly.
If out of context, links will not update

Brown Gear + Lightning

Bolt = Out of context
Changing the context
Change the context using the contextual menus
Only works if all external links are published
Modifying the skeleton model
Change the skeleton model, and the changes
will propagate down to the design in context
Modify the geometry in the
Skeleton model, and the Design in
context models will need an update

The Yellow P indicates that this

geometry needs to be updated in
the part
Modifying the skeleton model

Making the change in one location, the

skeleton model, modified 4 components
Design in Context Summary

Use Skeleton Models

External geometry can be geometry or
Only work with Published Geometry

Improve Graphic Performance
Good = Hide Component
Better = Deactivate Node, Visualization Mode
Best = Unload unneeded components
Improve CPU Performance
Unload unneeded components
Use Deactivate component via
You can only modify geometry when it is
fully loaded and activated