CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE: Creating Material Definition

December 1, 2023 Iouri Apanovitch

A material definition captures, among other things, the visual appearance as well as the physical characteristics (density, elasticity, plasticity, etc.) of a material. You must apply a material if you want to calculate mass properties of your model, perform structural or other simulations, or to create a realistic visual image of your product. In this article, I will explain how to create and apply material definitions in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Material definitions are handled quite differently in CATIA V5 and in 3DEXPERIENCE.

First, in V5 material definitions were stored in a Material Catalog. In 3DEXPERIENCE, all material definitions are stored in one big database, the same database that stores all the 3D models of your parts and products.

Second, in 3DEXPERIENCE there are two types of materials:

  1. Core material: This is the main substance that makes up your part, such as steel, aluminum, etc. The intent is to specify the physical properties, such as material density, strength, etc.
  2. Covering material: This is the material used to cover the surface of the part, such as paint, protective coating, etc. The intent is to specify visual characteristics of the material - color, texture, light reflection, etc. If covering material is not applied, then the visual characteristics of the core material are used for the model display

Third, the material properties in 3DEXPERIENCE are split into several domains:

  • Appearance Domain: Specifies visual characteristics on a 3D model, such as color, roughness, sheen, transparency, etc.
  • Drafting Domain: Defines how material is displayed on section views in 2D drawings, such as the hatching pattern and color

  • Composite Domain: Specifies characteristics of materials used in laminated composite part design, such as material type (bi-directional fabric or uni-directional tape), cured and uncured thickness, weight per surface unit, etc.
  • Simulation Domain: Contains properties used in various simulations, such as structural, fluid dynamics, electromagnetics, etc.

Only domains relevant to your model should be defined. For example, if the material is a carbon fabric used to manufacture composite parts, then the Composite Domain must be specified. Or, if a structural simulation is to be performed on the part, then the Simulation Domain must be defined.

To create a new material definition, activate the  (Material Definition) app, then select (Create Material) icon in the Action Bar. The Create Material dialog box opens, as shown below.

A screenshot of a computer

Description automatically generated
Figure 1

Enter the name of the material and activate the domains to add. Optionally, select to add a covering material, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Click OK to close the Create Material dialog box. The material definition, along with the domains, displays in the tree.

Figure 3

It’s recommended that you use meaningful names for the domains. To rename a domain, right-click it in the tree and select Properties.

Figure 4

Should you want to add domains later, after the initial material definition is created, you can do this by selecting the  (Add Domain) icon in the Action Bar.

To specify the visual properties of the material, double-click the Material Appearance Domain in the tree to open the Material Definition: Appearance Domain dialog box, as shown in Figure 5. Select the color and other appearance parameters as desired.

Figure 5

To specify the drafting properties, double-click the Material Drafting Domain in the tree. In the Drafting Material dialog box that opens, select the pattern type (Hatching, Dotting, Coloring, etc.), color, line type and thickness, etc.

Figure 6

Lastly, to specify the simulation properties, double-click the Material Simulation Domain in the tree. In the Material Definition: Simulation Domain dialog box that opens, enter the appropriate material properties. For example, the necessary for a linear structural simulation properties are shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7

Once all the required material properties have been defined, save the material definition to the database.

Now, to apply a core material, open your model and select the   (Material Browser) icon the Tools section of the Action Bar. Right-click the material in the Material Browser window and select Apply. Alternatively, you can drag the material and drop it onto the item you want to apply it to.

Figure 8

Select the item in the tree, such as 3D Part, and confirm the operation by clicking the green checkmark in the contextual toolbar.

Figure 9

The applied material displays in the tree.

Figure 10

Select Shading with materials option in the View Modes dialog box. The part now displays according to the visual properties you created for the core material.

Figure 11

Use the same steps to apply a covering material, if required. Now the part displays according to the visual properties of the covering material.

Figure 12

I hope you found this tutorial useful! If you have any questions or would like to explore more 3DEXPERIENCE features, feel free to reach out.

About the Author

Iouri Apanovitch

Senior Technical Training Engineer<br><br>As a senior member of the Rand 3D team with a doctorate degree in Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and over 35 years of experience, Iouri provides design, consulting, and training services to those in the aerospace, automotive, electronics, and consumer goods industries. Iouri is a seasoned pro in 3D parametric design and prototyping using knowledge-based engineering methods, and has worked on a wide range of projects including BOM automation, CMM points generation, automated 3D annotation creation, and die tooling automation design. He is also a sought-after instructor and holds the designations of both CATIA Certified Professional (Expert level) and CATIA Certified Instructor.

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