MCAD Tech News (#281)

27 May, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

User Profile: 3D Perfected

As a CAD manager, user group leader, instructor, and SolidWorks advocate, Rodney Hall never settles for "good enough."

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Rodney Hall has been working for more than 22 years as a CNC machinist and programmer; a designer of machinery, jigs and fixtures, and automation equipment; and an IT expert. Currently a CAD manager in the nuclear industry, he actively oversees more than 110 seats of SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Pro/ENGINEER, and Siemens PLM Teamcenter software.

Those accomplishments aren't the main reasons he is so well regarded in the CAD community, however. He's best known for being a tireless champion of 3D CAD — as a volunteer user group leader, instructor, and passionate user.

A self-described lifelong perfectionist, Hall never settles for "good enough." Even as a child building rockets and cars, he insisted on modifying the toy models to make them better. In his professional life, Hall decided in the mid-'90s that 2D was too limiting, and he committed himself to learning 3D even though he was miles ahead of the curve. But simply adopting 3D wasn't enough. In true Rodney Hall fashion, he found his software of choice — SolidWorks — and devoted himself to mastering it, teaching it, and advocating it.

Cadalyst: What drew you to 3D and SolidWorks?

Hall: I have been a fan of 3D CAD since before it was cool. I have always been able to visualize 3D design in my mind, even when all designs were done in 2D. I still believe that it is far easier to interpret designs created in 3D. I converted from 2D CAD to SolidWorks 97 to adopt 3D CAD before the masses. No other 3D CAD was as easy to use, and I believed the company had a strong future. As my skills developed along with each new release, I began to know the software intimately, and I made many friends in the user community along the way. It is this bond with the SolidWorks user community, as well as with SolidWorks employees, that has made me so passionate about the software. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


First Look Review: Photoshop CS5 Extended

This image and photography editor includes new features that help users create more realistic 3D designs.

By Ron LaFon

Photoshop CS5 Extended from Adobe Systems is an amazingly capable image and photo editor, equipped with features that make it a valuable tool for a broad range of professional endeavors, including CAD, DCC (digital content and creation), and visualization. Although a Standard version is also available, for this review, I evaluated Photoshop CS5 Extended, which offers high-end capabilities of interest to design professionals and the professional imaging communities. This release packs in more technological advancements from Adobe Labs than any other, and incorporates enhancements to everyday tasks requested by users. Advanced tools for 3D address the needs of the video, Web, medical, manufacturing, and engineering industries.

New Features and Enhancements

One of the most dazzling new features in this release is content-aware fill. You can remove any image detail or object, and this tool fills the space left behind, matching lighting, tone, and noise so that it looks as if the removed content never existed. This tool operates quickly and is a real time-saver.

With Puppet Warp tool, you can precisely reposition or warp an image element. You can, for example, stretch text for special effects, or move a person's raised arm to his or her side in a photo.

Enhanced 3D realism and rich materials are new, enabling you to enhance 3D objects and designs with easy shadow creation, image-based lighting, and materials like glass and chrome. Adjusting the range for depth-of-field lets you explore various focus points in your 3D scene. In addition, Adobe Repoussé enables the creation of 3D extrusions from any text layer, selection, path, or layer mask. Read more »

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Ron LaFon is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta and a contributing editor for Cadalyst.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


PTC/USER World Event 2010
June 6–9, 2010
Orlando, Florida
The PTC/USER World Event is designed for professionals who use PTC products and services, including Arbortext, CoCreate, Mathcad, Pro/ENGINEER, ProductView, and Windchill. Read more »

PLM Road Map 2010
September 28–29, 2010
Plymouth, Michigan
At PLM Road Map 2010, attendees can join the CPDA (Collaborative Product Development Associates) team to find out first-hand which issues are confronting end users in design and engineering. Read more »

November 2–4, 2010
Atlanta, Georgia
The FABTECH tradeshow showcases a spectrum of metal forming, fabricating, stamping, tube and pipe, and finishing and welding equipment and technology. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


CAD Management in a New Economy, Part 1
CAD managers report that the economic recession has wrought changes in their companies — and their jobs. Read more »

Virtual Facility Simulation Cuts Data Center Cooling Costs
Cisco Systems saves an estimated $120,000 per year by redesigning exhaust circulation using Future Facilities' 3D modeling technology. Read more »

ArchiCAD Insights Tutorial: ArchiCAD's Rotated Views
Use ArchiCAD's Oriented Views feature to work with models at various angles. Read more »

Autodesk Fortifies Digital Prototyping with Ground-Breaking Inventor Features and New Products for 2011
Direct manipulation, as-you-go visualization, and design automation are new for Inventor, and Inventor Publisher and Alias Design for Inventor join the product line. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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