New generation of CAD importer provides direct and dependable access to native CATIA v5 files (using Dassault Systèmes technology) for data translation, viewing, rendering & animation.
This geometry import converter imports and processes BREP solids-based CAD
geometry files stored in the CATIA v5 native part and
assembly file formats, as well as mesh visualization data from CGR files.
The importer is based on the actual CATIA v5 runtime DLLs and components from Dassault
Système (the developers and owners of the CATIA v5 modeling software) and
hence provides the absolute best conversion of native CATIA
v5 part and assembly files - no reverse engineered libraries
are used, as is often the case with other CATIA v5 importers.
The CATIA stand-alone program (made by Dassault Systèmes and distributed
by IBM) is an integrated suite of Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided
Engineering (CAE), and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) applications for
digital product definition and simulation. It allows manufacturers to simulate
all the industrial design processes, from the pre-project phase, through detailed
design, analysis, simulation, assembly and maintenance. CATIA is primarily
used by the automotive and aerospace industries for automobile and aircraft
product and tooling design (it is well known for being used by Boeing to design
their massive airplanes, or NASA to help design the Space Shuttle). There are
roughly 20,000 companies worldwide using CATIA with roughly 30,000 seats sold
If the file extension of your CATIA files end in ".model", ".exp", ".session" or ".dlv" then
these are CATIA v4 files and not CATIA v5. In such a
case you will need to use the Okino
CATIA v4 importer.
** IMPORTANT ** Spatial Corp. licenses its CATIA v5 licenses on a
per-year basis (this is not an Okino policy), with extensions via the yearly maintenance fee.
Each year the license has to be renewed via the yearly 'maintenance fee'. Okino personally contacts its
users of the Spatial CATIA v5 converters at month 11 and just before month 12 to remind them of the pending
maintenance renewal. If the maintenance is not renewed then the CATIA v5 license will expire.
Spatial Corp. requires that the maintenance fee be paid yearly, starting with the initial purchase.
If you let the maintenance payment lapse (and let the license expire as a result), then decide to
start paying them again at some undetermined time in the future to re-start the license,
a "re-instatement fee" will then be due to Spatial Corp.
This converter uses licensed components from Spatial
Corp. If you encounter any problems loading a 3D model
then please forward a problem
report to email@example.com and we will forward it to Spatial on your behalf.
Some Major Benefits of the CATIA v5 Importer
Okino has been a trained Spatial developer since 1997, resulting
in a top notch, refined and professional implementation
of the Okino-CATIA importer.
Supports CATIA v5 parts (.catpart), assembly (.cadproduct) and visualization (.cgr) files.
Assembly structure information is imported from .catproduct assembly files when the .catpart files
are BREP solids and not .cgr mesh data.
Many options to control the import of the data. Import by body, face,
bodies + faces or bodies + shells + faces. This allows rendering
materials to be applied at the finest granularity (faces) or the coarsest (bodies).
Importing via the CATIA "solids-based" file formats ensure
adjacent NURBS patches are "stitched" together via topology information
data) and thus creates "crack free" tessellation when the NURBS
or parametric solids are converted to a polygonal mesh.
Imports CATIA files directly into 3ds Max
and Maya via the native PolyTrans-for-MAX and PolyTrans-for-Maya plug-in systems.
These are by far the most refined, developed and best methods
to directly import
solids-based CAD files into 3ds Max and Maya.
Also excellent conversion into Softimage|XSI, Newtek's Lightwave, MAXON's
Cinema-4D and many other downstream 3D software packages and
The CAD importer includes a vital built-in Okino hierarchy/part
tool to reduce the complexity of the imported CAD files before
re-exporting to other 3D animation packages and downstream
file formats. This
is particularly important when importing large CAD assemblies
into Lightwave, 3ds Max and Maya.
File Extensions Supported
This importer recognizes the following CATIA v5 file extensions, from versions
R2 to current:
.CATPart CATIA v5 part file
.CATProduct CATIA v5 assembly file
.CGR CATIA mesh visualization data file
If the file extension ends in ".model", ".exp", ".session" or ".dlv" then these are CATIA v4 files and not CATIA v5. In such a case you will need to use the Okino CATIA v4 importer.
Documentation for Each Importer Option Panels
Click on any one of the small screen snapshots to jump to the corresponding section of this WEB page:
These radio buttons determine which of two very different ways the CATIA v5 data will be processed and imported.
!! NOTE !! If there are .CGR files referenced within a .CatProduct assembly file then
you must specifically enable the 'Visualization mesh to HSF (always used for CGR)' radio button on the first importer options panel.
BREP Solids to ACIS pipeline, with hierarchy
This is the default and highest fidelity method to import the CATIA v5 data. It converts BREP solids from CATIA into the Spatial ACIS solids-modelling toolkit for conversion. This method will also convert assembly hierarchy, and enable all of the options on the importer. The conversion to the final mesh form will only occur during and after the Spatial ACIS conversion part of the process.
Visualization mesh to HSF (always used for CGR)
This method is automatically chosen when CATIA v5 CGR (mesh) files are to be imported. You must also manually enable this option if you know that any file referenced by a CATIA .catProduct assembly is a CGR mesh file.
This import pipeline will cause the CATIA v5 runtime system to convert and output
the CGR mesh visualization data to a light weight format which will then be imported
using Okino's HSF importer sub-system. As you will notice when this option is
chosen, most options on the importer do not apply to this conversion pipeline.
This conversion pipeline will not retain the assembly or part names, as those are replaced with generic names in the intermediate conversion files by the CATIA v5 runtime system (that is a restriction of the CATIA v5 runtime system and not of the Okino import conversion software).
Part Grouping Method
This combo box chooses how the imported geometry parts (the "bodies") will be connected
into a hierarchy, or grouped together. Grouping by layer is the simplest method while
the grouping by assembly hierarchy is the most complex and interesting.
Group by layer number
If this option is enabled then the imported geometry parts (the "bodies") will be
parented to the layer grouping names specified in the input file. If the input file
does not contain any layering or assembly information then no grouping will
be performed. CATIA v5 files have layers numbered from 0 to 999 and a "None" layer.
Group by assembly hierarchy Group by assembly hierarchy. Append assembly definition name
If this option is enabled then the imported geometry parts (the "bodies") will
be parented according to the hierarchy defined by the .catProduct assembly.
If the 'Append assembly definition name' additional option is chosen then the Okino instance
names will have the CATIA v5 assembly's 'definition name' appended after the
word "Defn:". This is purely for informational purposes and does not aid in the
The following image shows the same assembly (as from the "Group by layer number"
section above), but with the "Group by assembly hierarchy. Append assembly definition name" option
If the "Import Active Layer Only" checkbox is enabled then only the entities which
reside on the "currently active CATIA v5 layer" are imported. This happens regardless of
the option chosen from the "Part Grouping Method" combo box.
Exclude These Layers + Combo Box
If you wish to exclude one or more layers from being imported then
click on the "Edit" button beside the drop-down combo box.
This will pop up the following dialog box:
The numbers on the left side are the layers which were found in the
source CATIA file (after the file is scanned) and which will be imported.
The numbers on the right side are the layers which you
wish to exclude (ignore)
import process. To move layers between each listbox,
do an extended listbox selection then press the "Add" or "Remove" buttons.
If the "Reset Ignored Layers To Empty When New File Chosen" checkbox
is enabled, then the "Ignored Layers" list will be implicitly reset
to empty status whenever you choose a new CATIA file
to import. This is the default, since it makes sense that the 'layers to ignore'
be reset to
empty whenever you import a new file. If you would like
the 'Ignored Layers' listbox to remain unchanged as you select new and different
keep this checkbox unchecked.
If the "Import Active Layer Only" checkbox is enabled then the exclusion
list is ignored, and only the entities which reside on the "currently active
CATIA v5 layer" are imported.
Name Reading Method
This is an expert-level option that you should never have to
change. It determines how names for each imported object will be derived from
No Entity Names Generated
Each imported object will be named "Body". No attempt
will be made to import any proper name for the object.
Each imported object will be given the feature name as it was
assigned in the source CATIA v5 file.
Each imported object will be given the custom (published)
name as it was assigned in the source
CATIA v5 file.
Element Name and Publication
will be given the custom (published) name as it was assigned in the source
Import hidden items
If this checkbox is enabled then items which are marked as being "hidden" are
Repair erroneous surfaces
If this checkbox is enabled then the importer will check all the spline
surfaces in the model and will attempt to correct
them by using spline re-surfacing algorithms.
Create Log File
If this checkbox is enabled then a log file with the extension ".log" will
be saved to the saved directory, and with the same filename,
as the CATIA file being imported.
Write HOOPS .hsf File After File Import (for testing)
If this checkbox is enabled then a HOOPS .hsf file will be written
to disk which mirrors the CATIA v5 file which was just imported. This is useful
for testing purposes if you need to view the file in
another application. A
HOOPS .hsf viewer can be downloaded from www.hoops3d.com.
Re-Initialize CATIA v5 Environment Variables
This button causes the CATIA v5 runtime environment variables
and runtime environment files to be re-initialized. The full process is outlined
section: Setting up the Required Runtime Environment.
Normally the importer will perform these operations before each import process.
You may want to do this manually if you find that the importer is not invoking
the CATIA v5 runtime system properly.
Transfer Control Importer Options
Flip Model so that Y Axis is ‘Up’
If this option is enabled then the model will be rotated so that its “Up” axis
is aligned with the positive Y axis instead of
the positive Z axis.
Assign Materials at the 'Face' Level
If this option is enabled then materials will be allowed to be assigned
at the "face" BREP object level. BREP objects are defined as bodies,
shells and faces. If you import a model and find that some materials are missing
then most probably they have been assigned at the lower level "face" level,
in which case you will want to enable
this option. This option is enabled by default.
Report Statistics About the Parsed File
If this checkbox is enabled then the import converter will print
out the number of objects, polygons, normals, texture coordinates, tangent
and surfaces that were parsed from the input file.
Method to Import BREP Solids Objects
Solids-based CAD data is composed of “bodies” which contain one
or more “shells”, and each shell contains one or more "faces".
A body can be considered as an 3D object, and the faces can be considered at
the sub-parts of the object. This is otherwise commonly known as a BREP, or "Boundary
Representation" of a solids object.
This combo box determines how the solids-based BREP Body/Shell/Face entity
will be imported and converted to the non-BREP polygonal form required by this
Single Body Parts (single BREP tesellation)
This option will create the least number of geometry items after
import. If you feel that the
model is still imported as "too many parts" then
enable the "Optimize Object Count" checkbox.
This choice will cause all the sub-parts (faces) to be stored as
a single object (ie: you
won’t be able to move or modify the sub-objects of the
body); this is useful if you don’t want dozens, hundreds or thousands
of sub-parts cluttering your
The "single BREP tessellation" variation will cause the faceter/tessellator
to be applied to the top-most "Body" entity and not to each individual
face (like as done in the next
option below). This may result in better, crack-free tessellations.
Single Body Parts (via combined faces)
This is identical to the previous option above, except that the
tessellation is applied to each individual face of the model and not to the
all the faces of the body are tessellated then they are
combined back together into a single polygonal object.
Bodies + Faces (Lots of Objects)
This option will import the BREP "body" as many sub-parts (many BREP "faces").
It will tend to create a large
number of child objects in the final scene. Choosing this option will provide
control over assigning
materials to each
face part of the BREP model,
as well as allowing you to manipulate each face part.
Bodies + Shells + Faces (Lots of Objects)
This is the same as the "Bodies + Face" option except that another
dummy level of hierarchy will be added between the "Body" definition
and the list of "Face" parts in the hierarchy, with the name "Shell" on
the dummy nodes. Basically this option will separate the Face parts based on
the shell they are associated with in the Body part. Some people find this convenient
if they model their parts based on "shells".
Optimize Object Count
By enabling this "Optimize Object Count" checkbox a series of
algorithms will be invoked to combine all sub-parts
contained within grouping nodes (under
the yellow folder shown above) into respective
single objects. In other words, the hundreds of sub-parts contained within
grouping nodes will
be reduced to
single parts within each grouping node. In addition,
once all the parts have been combined together, redundant grouping and hierarchy
will be deleted
In general this option only makes sense to enable when the "Method to
Import BREP Solids Objects" combo box is set to "Bodies, shells and
Faces" since this import method will create a huge number of "Face" objects.
For this importer it is not recommended that you need to enable this option.
Instead, just set the "Method to Import BREP Solids Objects" combo
box to "Single Body Parts" or "Single Body Parts + Shell Hierarchy".
These options will implicitly import the least
number of object parts.
The "Help" button which appears on the dialog box when this button
is pressed describes the object and hierarchy
compression algorithm further.
Match File Units to These Internal Units
"Units conversion" is often an important aspect of importing CAD files.
People who create 3D models in a modeling package will do so using a specific
units system, such as meters or feet. However, when these models are imported
into another 3D package that uses a different default units system (such as
Lightwave which uses centimeters), a "units conversion" operation
needs to occur (the imported model geometry
needs to be rescaled).
This option determines what will be done when the units defined in the source
file do not match current internal program system units. If the units do not
match, the importer will rescale the imported geometry based on the ratio between
the source file units and the internal system units.
The drop-down combo box specifies the current units system in effect within
the internal NuGraf/PolyTrans 3d database. It defaults to meters. What you need
to do is select an appropriate entry from the drop-down combo box which matches
the system units used by your destination program: for example, set it to Centimeters
for Lightwave, Inches for 3DS MAX, Centimeters for Maya, etc (this should be
automatic if importing into 3ds max or Maya).
No Unit Conversion, No units; never do any geometry scaling.
Microinches, 1e-6 inches
Mils, 1e-3 inches
Inches, 0.0254 meters
Feet, 12 inches
Miles, 63360 inches
Microns, 1e-6 meters
Millimeters, 1e-3 meters
Centimeters, 1e-2 meters
Kilometers, 1e+3 meters
Custom, Custom units are in effect. See below.
Custom Units in "Units Per Meter"
If the drop-down combo box is set to "Custom", then this edit text
control defines the "units per meter" scale factor for the custom
Compute the Following Vertex Attributes
Vertex Normals. If this checkbox is enabled then the import converter
will compute proper vertex normals for each triangle vertex. Vertex
normals are necessary to make
an object appear to be smooth when rendered.
Vertex (u,v) Texture Coordinates. If this checkbox is enabled then the
import converter will compute proper texture (u,v) coordinates
for each triangle vertex. Texture coordinates
necessary if a bitmap texture image is
to be applied to the object at some time in the
Remove Duplicated Vertex Components For...
Vertices. If this checkbox is enabled then the import converter will
remove any duplicated or redundant vertex coordinates. This
will not modify the object but it may reduce the amount
of memory required to store the
Likewise, if this checkbox is enabled then the import
converter will remove any duplicated
or redundant vertex normals.
Vertex (u,v) Texture Coordinates.
Likewise, if this checkbox is enabled then the
import converter will remove
any duplicated or redundant vertex texture coordinates
Import Material Attributes (when available)
If this checkbox is enabled then additional rendering material attributes
will be imported, if and only if they exist within the
source data and are made available to this importer. Some of these attributes
· RGB surface color
· Ambient, diffuse, specular and phong power shading coefficients
Import Lights (when available)
If this checkbox is enabled then lights will be imported, if and only
if they exist within the source data and are made available
to this importer. Point, spot, directional and ambient lights are supported.
Tessellation (surface refinement) Options
An important aspect of this import converter is its surface tessellator.
Almost all data imported from the source file is either “solid” entities
or NURBS surfaces so this tessellator converts the implicit surfaces
to n-sided polygons, quads or triangles during the import process.
The surface tessellator used in this import converter is the one provided by Spatial Technology. It converts the implicit surfaces to n-sided polygons, quads or triangles by applying the following refinement criteria, from highest to lowest:
1. Minimum number of U and V grid lines
2. Maximum edge length
3. Normal deviation
4. Surface deviation
5. Grid aspect ratio
The parameters on the right side of the dialog box control the surface refinement
Recommended Usage Method
To make a bumpy or curved surface look smoother, move the 'Surface Deviation' slider more to the left.
To make rounded edges or a curved surface look smoother, move the 'Normal Deviation' slider more to the left.
To make 'quad-like' polygons and not a pure triangular mesh, with many of the resulting polygons have a squarish aspect ratio:
Change the 'Polygon Type' combo box to Triangles on fringes only.
Set the 'Minimum Grid Lines in U and V Directions' U and V values both to 10, or, change the 'Maximum Edge Length' to 0.1 (10%).
NOTE: If you wish to disable one or more of these refinement
criteria then set the refinement parameter’s value to 0 (where possible).
Normal Deviation (Degrees)
This slider specifies the maximum deviation (in degrees) between
the normals on two adjacent faces. Smaller values will make surfaces and curves
smoother, but at the expense of creating more polygons.
The default is 15 degrees
and the range is 0 to 90 degrees.
Surface Deviation (Percentage)
This slider specifies the maximum allowable distance between a polygon
and the true surface,
expressed as a percentage of the object’s bounding
box size. Smaller values
will make the model appear smoother, but at the expense of creating more polygons.
This combo box determines whether the tessellator will create triangles (3-sided polygons), N-sided (4-sided or more polygons) or a combination thereof.
This option will cause the tessellator to output the polygonal mesh purely as triangles.
N-Sided, Triangles on fringes only
This option will cause the tessellator to primarily output 4-sided quads or 5-sided polygons, except for the edge areas where some or all of the polygons may be triangles (to allow for smoother meshes).
N-Sided + Grid-to-edges
This option will cause the tessellator to output the polygonal mesh purely as a rectilinear grid of 4-sided quads or 5-sided polygons.
N-Sided + Quad-tree
This option will cause the tessellator to output the polygonal mesh purely as 4-sided quads or 5-sided polygons. However, an adaptive meshing algorithm (quad-tree or bin-tree) will be used to produce a more intelligent tessellation.
Less Commonly Modified Options
Minimum Grid Lines in U and V Directions
Spatial's tessellator is based on the concept of a rectilinear grid overlayed on the NURBS geometry which helps to determine how finely subdivided the geometry will become. Thus, this provides another mechanism to further subdivide the final polygonal facets.
In the following image, the number of grid lines is unconstrained (both of the parameter values set to 0).
Whereas in the following image, the 'Minimum Grid Lines' in the U and V directions have been changed to 10 (and the 'Polygon Type' was set to 'Triangles on Fringes Only'):
Maximum Edge Length
This slider specifies the maximum allowable length of any "edge", expressed as a percentage of the model's bounding box extents.
This image shows the result when this option is disabled. Notice the long triangles in the center flat region:
Edge length = 0 (disabled)
This second image shows this option set to 20%, which forces the model to be triangulated further so that no edge length is more than 0.2 times the size of the model's bounding box extents:
Edge length = 20%
The following is another example. In the first image the 'Maximum Edge Length' has been set to 0 (disabled):
Whereas in the following image, the 'Maximum Edge Length' has been changed to 0.10% (and the 'Polygon Type' was set to 'Triangles on Fringes Only'):
Smaller values (greater than 0.0) will cause more triangles to be created. A value of 0 disables this refinement parameter.
If modifying this option does nothing, then set the slider to increasingly smaller values (0.4% is the smallest input value possible).
Grid Aspect Ratio
This parameter specifies the approximate aspect ratio of each
cell in the grid. If the value is close to 1 then the cell is close to a square.
does not guarantee the aspect ratio of the facet, which
may consist of only a part of a cell.