I'm taking the plunge into 3D design, to open creative doors for myself personally, but the practical investment is for my career as a product designer and Illustrator.
I've always worked either on the board, or on a mac, specifically Photoshop and Painter. The companies I design for have been using more PC-based software in creating their product, programs like Lightwave, SolidWorks, Rhino, even Alias and Maya. Especially programs that can export smoothly to create patterns for molds and stereolithography prototypes.
I'm just an indi contractor, and though I'd love to have Maya or Alias I have to be reasonable about the initial cost and learning curve of delving into the world of 3D sculpting.
At this point I'm resolved to the notion of investing in going PC. (I've heard good things about ZBrush3, and I understand Maya is available in both platforms, but I want my options broad).
I've had a number of programs recommended to me, 3DS Max, Rhino, SolidWorks, ..and the programs that I'm considering at right now are SolidWorks for the basic industry-related tool, and Mud Box for the more complex. 3DS Max sounds great too.
I've heard only good things about all 3, but I was hoping to get some reliable feedback, or certainly other program recommendations that I may consider.
Your advice is appreciated.