Check out the below links for some professional (and all free) options.
Wings is supposed to be a good modeller, while Art of Illusion can do that
too, and just about anything any renderer on the market can do. (Look for a
guy named Nate's sample award-winning images done with it.)
For a small example, it has HDRI, image mapping (such as for adding, or as
you say; "melting" textures and images onto surfaces), procedural texturing,
photon-mapping and cautics for high photorealism, and also does high-end
It may also support a 2D-cad DXF file import feature soon!
I use it myself, and invite you to its forum at Sourceforge (link below),
where you'll find that and much much more in the way of fine free open
source software solutions.
OPENSOURCE/FREE CAD/3D/GIS/ETC. SOLUTIONS/INFO:
.Why Software Should Not Have Owners: www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-free.html
.Brl CAD http://ftp.arl.mil/brlcad
.Q CAD www.qcad.org/index.php3
.Varkon CAD www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/help/varkon/man.htm
.Art Of Illusion http://aoi.sourceforge.net
.Persistence of Vision www.povray.org
.Grass GIS http://grass.itc.it
.3d File Converter http://home.europa.com/~keithr
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