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I've been searching with Google and Bing all morning and haven't found anything. I can't afford a $3000 cad system. I just want an affordable, hobby-level, parametric modeler.

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I use Alibre Hobby version it is 99 dollars, and has a lot of the features of the Pro version. Since it allows the export you can send what you deign out to rapid prototyping houses. It is a lot of fun. Also the parametric stuff that they do is a real life saver if you are designing parts for projects. Check out the videos.

Since this has the OSX tag, then you will need to load windows either in a VM or Bootcamp.

If you are a student Rihno is less than 200 bucks. Also if you absolutely need a mac program, this is a solid modeler but for 2D stuff I use QCad.

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Thanks for the PC recommendations. I've found several parametric modelers for PC (even parametric plug-ins for Blender), but nothing for OS X. I should qualify that I'd favor a 3D parametric modeler. Interesting that no business has filled this niche. It doesn't even have to be terrific, over-the-top, AutoDesk Inventor competitor. –  Michael Prescott Sep 21 '10 at 19:42
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I can warmly recommend Luxology Modo. It's still a bit on the pricey side ($995), but that's a great deal less than $3000. I think this is the best "in-between" big-bucks and low budget solutions, where you get the most "bang for the buck."

They also offer a free 15 day trial, or a $25 day production evaluation license, where you also get full access to their translators, SDKs, asset sharing sites etc. I encourage you to give it a whirl!


Edit:

On second thought; this might not be what you're looking for. I missed the word "parametric" in your title - my apologies. I think you'll still be able to use Modo for some "hard-surface-modelling," but it might not be able to offer you that "architectural precision."

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