I need to get my hands dirty with some 3D CAD, developing some proof- of-concept housings for various electronics packages, and some very simple mechanical parts (plastic gear trains and cams, mostly). These designs don't need to be manufacturable; I would simply generate an FDM or SLA, sand out the quantization, then make a rubber mold and hand-cast the few units I need.
I also need to generate 3D visualizations of some larger (primarily sheet metal) parts, and create shop drawings from those.
So, I'm looking at Alibre - currently playing with the Express version
- it seems *relatively* simple and it's in my price bracket. I have previously played with Pro/E and been utterly stymied by the addons and astonished by the price. Is there anything I ought to know about Alibre? Is it a smart buy? A stupid buy? Is it missing some feature that professional mechanical engineers can't live without?
I figure this is the right place to ask because there are probably a lot of hobbyists with some similar needs :)