I think SolidWorks is the greatest thing going.
It is expensive (somewhat) but the maintenance fees piss me off more than the original price.
If I were starting up a "work-from-home" shop I would be looking at Rhino or Alibre.
IMO they fizzle in the greatness of SolidWorks BUT they are half the initial cost (or less) and have no maintenance fees (that I know of).
For part production you will get exactly what you want if;
1) You provide a detailed drawing with tolerances and surface finishes. .DWG or .DXF is universal.
2) Provide a 3d model of the part in parasolid, iges or step as well as an stl.