TinkerCAD costs $19 per month for the Personal edition and $100/month for the Startup edition. I'd buy a basic CAD package rather than "rent" one month to month. Three-dimensional printers might appeal to more people at a lower cost, but as the cost goes down I expect more small companies to offer 3-D printing services--perhaps even the UPS Store or local Kinkos-Fedex store could make my prototypes.
I no longer make my own printed-circuit boards because I can get a 2-day turnaround from local shops that welcome small orders. And some PCB quick-turn companies also provide the schematic-capture and board-layout tools for free. Watch the same thing happen with 3-D printing.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.