Just found this article discussing affordable CAD, and discovered that ShopBot is using Alibre Design to do their CAD work. They found the power and cost effectiveness of 3D solid modeling software.
I hope we will see a bit more from ShopBot about supporting Alibre to do the design work for what is manufactured on the ShopBot as well.
We switched to Alibre Design to do our cabinet design over 2 years ago, and will never go back. It has been quite educational and exciting moving into the CNC world as we began designing for the ShopBot this last year.
I have often felt that Alibre would be a good choice for ShopBot'ers, as it is hard to beat the free Xpress version to do parametric part design and create DXF files for the ShopBot.
For those that have not used Parametric design software, it may seem a bit backward, but it is a lot more powerful to add and modify dimensions to "define" the dimensions of parts, rather than just document part dimensions. Double click on a dimension, and you can change the Length, Width, or any other dimension of your part by just changing the value of the dimension. Add the power of constraints, and you can define lines that are always parallel, tangent, perpendicular, in collinear alignment (plus more), even when the dimensions change. True 3D solids has helped eliminate overlooking design discontinuities, and provide better visualization.
All this CNC design has got me longing for a ShopBot of my own. Maybe once I get my wifes new kitchen manufactured using a ShopBot, she will be a little less resistant to the idea.