We are on the same wavelength between Risk a lot of money/data/future survivability and Smarter than Free. You nailed the student/artisan/retired engineer market that the industry has failed to address.

I have used Rhino for a good number of years with decent success, but in stepping it up, the prime hold back comes from its inability to edit even medium complexity models easily. I tested Mold&DieCAM (madCAM plugin) and found it very usable. The only drawback was simulation of cutting was not yet mature (though they showed me some great work towards getting there. The biggest issue is that the inevitable changes that come with prototyping usually require going back to the very beginning (or nearly so) to make any changes. But that is not a madCAM problem. madCAM is not cheap, but it is financially reachable in a value range and appears stable from a mgmt/marketing perspective ... unlike the freebie come-ons.

I am beginning to consider looking at breaking down my process in two. (1) a parametric package that can produce an exportable solid model that give the CAD flexibility and (2) import to Rhino/madCAM for 3/4 axis protowork.

It is hard as heck to find one package that does it all well WITH a low probability of screwing your money, learning curve and/or your content in the future.

These companies may not realize it, but their EULA/marketing demands destroy the end users' ability to optimize their costs into an acceptable range.

And leave profits and all future biz on the table because of it.