Anyone using Alibre?

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 :)
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larwe wrote:

You should probably quickly join both the CAD_CAM_EDM_DRO and DIY-CNC Yahoo groups and re-ask your questions there. There are far more people in those two groups that have a range of experience of various 3D CAD packages. Please be forewarned that 3D CAD can be a very expensive proposition.
-Wayne
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larwe wrote:

Yes, I like it. I've been doing front panels and bent sheet metal for a few months. No solid modeling yet. You should be able to get Design Express for free. It doesn't support sheet metal and is missing some of the nice features of the pro package but should be fine for getting your feet wet.
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It doesn't matter.
On a previous project, armed with complicated Pro/E drawings and plans, I met the Engineers who is going to make the mold. We sat down in dirty tables and chairs, make sketches with papers and pencils. Eventually, we came to an agreement. The customer is happy with the final product, which is nothing like the original drawings.
The drawings and plans do help to send me over there.
I have so many stories to tell. I think I am going to write a book.
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Read my original post. My inquiry is not for production.
I need to do 3D visualizations of some objects, and I need to be able to generate files for rapid prototyping (SLA/FDM). I can already sketch out what I need to sketch on paper - the trouble is turning that into a rapid prototype at a reasonable cost. It's more cost- effective for me to generate the CAD source files at home than sketch something on paper and hire an external designer to realize that.
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Yes, I know. But the process is the same. If you can't direct someone for production, you can direct someone for prototyping either.

CAD/CAM plans are good for showing the production/prototype engineer what needs to be done. How he would do it is a different story.
I believe all design engineers should visit the factories at least once.
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Yes, like I said I'm playing with that right now. I'm working through the tutorials (which don't match up with the software... grrr) and then I'm going to try designing one of my cams.

I'm a bit irritated that their special $500-off pricing deal expires today.
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larwe wrote:

Let me tell you a little secret. They love to negotiate and make deals. Call them and tell them you need an x day extension, but you want to buy. I can almost guarantee they will bite. Oh, and tell them I sent you. I'll get a free year's support for the reference.
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Alibre is pretty good. Have been using for about 3 years. Will do most things well and often much easier than some of the more expensive CAD systems out there. Best bang for bucks AFAIK
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