MCAD Tech News (#342)

11 Apr, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Pillar of the CAD Community

Cadalyst's CAD Tips are made possible through the efforts of many readers — and one very hard-working reviewer, Brian Benton.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Brian Benton is a multifaceted contributor to the CAD community. A senior engineering technician in a civil engineering firm in Florida, Benton shares his expertise with his fellow CAD users through a variety of formats. You may have watched his CAD tutorial videos, read his software guidebooks, or used one of the many Cadalyst CAD Tips that he's vetted. Or perhaps you follow CAD-a-Blog, where he shares updates and commentary about Autodesk software and other CAD-related topics.

Brian Benton.
Brian Benton

At the end of 2012, Benton was selected as an inaugural member of the Autodesk Expert Elite program. Launched at Autodesk University 2012, the program recognizes customers who make extraordinary contributions to Autodesk's online support community. According to Autodesk, the goal is to empower these super-users to "better share their knowledge, assist their peers, and support the Autodesk community."

"The Expert Elite program is making a strong effort to recognize that contributions to the Autodesk Community come in a variety of forms," explained Jillian Bejtlich, community manager, Autodesk discussion groups. "Oftentimes it's a phenomenal answer to a question in the discussion groups. Other times it's a high level of interaction and helpfulness through social media. In Brian [Benton]'s case, we chose to recognize his phenomenal contributions through his blog, CAD-a-Blog. It is an undeniably wonderful resource and we're happy to call him an Expert Elite now."

Cadalyst: Were you surprised to learn that you were selected for the Expert Elite program?

Benton: I was surprised, but also proud to be included. I have worked in the design business for 20 years, and I find it very satisfying to be recognized by the creator of my main design tool in this way. When I look at the people who were selected, and I see their work and other contributions to the Autodesk user community, I am very humbled to be a part of this group. If anyone needs to know anything about an Autodesk product, these Elites have the answer — they have seen and done it all.

Tell us about your blog.

I started CAD-a-Blog in 2007. I had been in the business for about 15 years at the time, and I knew that I had a lot of experience that others might benefit from. Plus, it feels good to help people! The site covers several topics, but it focuses on tips, reviews, and news about AutoCAD and other Autodesk products, because that's what I know best. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.

NVIDIA GRID Appliance Designed to Speed 3D Modeling, Rendering for SMBs

New turnkey system can simultaneously support as many as 16 users of Autodesk Design Suites, SolidWorks, and Adobe Creative Suite.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

NVIDIA has unveiled what it calls the industry's first visual computing appliance, enabling small and medium-sized businesses with limited IT infrastructures to deliver workstation-class performance over local-area networks to any Windows, Linux, or Mac client. The new NVIDIA GRID Visual Computing Appliance (VCA) is driven by graphics processing units (GPUs, commonly called graphics cards) and is designed to optimize the user experience with 3D CAD and rendering performed in Autodesk Design Suite products and SolidWorks as well as Adobe Creative Suite.

A plug-and-play appliance, NVIDIA GRID VCA requires no advanced IT experience to set up. "Just install your apps and go," explained Ankit Patel, product manager, VCA. It comes in 8-GPU and 16-GPU configurations to support a maximum of 8 or 16 users, respectively. Businesses can easily expand and contract GRID support in response to changing workflows, Patel said.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang called the GRID technology on-demand visual computing. "Design firms, film studios, and other businesses can now give their creative teams access to graphics-intensive applications with uncompromised performance, flexibility, and simplicity." Read more »

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Nancy Johnson is editor-in-chief of Cadalyst.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

3D Scanning for CAD
April 30, 2013
11 a.m. PT
This NextEngine webinar will show attendees how to create usable models for CAD programs such as SolidWorks, Creo, and Inventor. Read more »

ACE 2013 (Global Aras Conference)
April 30–May 2, 2013
Detroit, Michigan
At ACE 2013, business and technology professionals from around the world will meet to learn about next-generation product lifecycle management (PLM) and collaborate on PLM best practices for dealing with complexity challenges from global product development and systems engineering to enterprise quality and supply chain management. Read more »

May 14–16, 2013
West Springfield, Massachusetts
New features at this year's manufacturing exposition and conference will include a panel discussion about workforce development, a competitive manufacturing event for regional high school students, and area plant tours. 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


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Take 3D CAD Survey; Enter to Win Cadalyst Subscription
In today's highly competitive manufacturing market, 3D modeling can be a key to success. But are you tapping all its potential? How do you compare with your competition? Take the 15-minute 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Survey from Lifecycle Insights. You'll receive a copy of the report, and we'll automatically enter your name in a drawing on April 29 to win one of two annual subscriptions to Cadalyst magazine ($44 value; U.S. delivery only).

Cyon Research Wants to Know About Your CAD Use
Cyon Research, organizer of the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES), has launched its 2013 Survey of Users of Engineering Software. The 40-minute survey aims to gauge your current use of and criteria for CAD and other engineering software. Read more »

New Tool Automatically Tunes Dell Workstations
Free Dell Precision Performance Optimizer currently supports SolidWorks, PTC Creo, and Autodesk Maya. Read more »

Femap Tips and Tricks: Assign Shortcut Keys to Custom Programs in Femap
Save time by performing a repeated sequence of commands with just a couple of keystrokes. Read more »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Create Custom Autodesk Inventor Part Templates
Instead of starting from scratch whenever you need a common part, save yourself some modeling time with custom templates. Read more »

Bentley Systems Achieves 2012 Growth Target
Despite a sluggish global economy, the infrastructure solutions developer continues to expand, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Read more »

Customize AutoCAD through Programming
Learn how to search for text and modify layers with Visual Studio.NET. Read more »

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