Minimize Scrap & Maximize Profits with Nesting Software
Technology is permeating every aspect of our lives. A dependence on automation will alter how people do business. There is hardly a place where this is more true than in metal fabrication. Here, precise rules and software help in getting things done in the most effective manner.
Modern improvements to nesting software in recent years have made it possible to increase productivity greatly using several means. The right, advanced nesting software can be of benefit to business by increasing the efficiency of material utilization. Nesting software can pinpoint the most effective way to nest parts to reduce waste while factoring in elements that impact the nesting process.
To determine where to implement common-line cutting, good nesting question is needed. Cutting parts that share a common edge from a piece of metal can save energy, time, and scrap, drastically dropping the overall cutting cost.
Efficient nesting software accounts for such things as placement of lead-in/lead-outs. It also accounts for heat distortion, to make sure the parts produced won’t be needing rework after initial cutting.
The software should provide the most competent cutting paths and pierces to save cost on cycle time and diminish nozzle wear and tear by minimizing pierces.
Nesting optimizes the process of laying out parts on a flat sheet of material to reduce scrap and optimize finished good production. Typical materials include plastic, metal, fabric, plastic, and wood.
The process lays out cutting patterns to preserve raw material. An example is manufacturing parts from flat raw material like sheet metal.
The processes involved in modern nesting may be applied to additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) to optimize the production of printed products created during the additive manufacturing process.
In 3D printing, expected advantages can include minimizing tool movements that are not producing product, or maximizing the number of pieces that can be fabricated in a build season.
One key difference from nesting of cut pieces is that 3D parts often have a cross section that changes with height, possibly causing interference between adjacent parts as they are built up.
Traditional Nesting Software
Before PCs became popular, programming cutting machines meant using lengths of perforated tape which mainframe computers generated. In the early 1980s, when CNC for cutting machines became available and the PC became a commercial success, its use in business grew, and it became necessary to develop nesting software to run on the PC platform. The core objective for nesting software was to leverage mathematical processing power of the PC to optimize material usage and lower cost.
A nesting system is conventionally considered to be a numerical control (NC) programming tool, in which two-dimensional models of components generated in CAD software are used to generate G-code to drive computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines. A nesting system can be thought of as part of a CAM – Computer Aided Manufacturing – system.
Nesting software is applied to fit many manufacturing parts to a single sheet of raw material. By optimal, we mean that companies or individuals can get preferred parts in exact quantities at the lowest possible cost. The lowest cost includes:
- material efficiency
- machine efficiency
- adherence to schedule
- completion of order
- all other cost considerations
Generally speaking, nesting software arranges the required quantities of individual parts to be produced on plates or sheets of stock material in an automatic and efficient manner. It achieves this by using part geometry from CAD files to produce CNC code that controls the cutting machine.
CAM does not eliminate or diminish the requirement for skilled professionals like manufacturing engineers, machinists, or NC programmers. What CAM really does is leverage the value of manufacturing professionals that have great skill, through advanced productivity tools. It also develops the skills of new professionals through simulation, visualization, and optimization tools.
Modern Programming System Capabilities
Modern high-end nesting software can do a lot more than run on a desktop PC. It streamlines the workflow of the cutting workshop from the automated import of orders and parts, including their CAD geometry from a business system, plate inventory management, and even the automated nesting and NC program generation, for a variety of tools and machines.
The automated nesting procedure is not the only part of the software. It is however a critical part of the programming software for CNC shape-cutting machines. Various machine technologies and tools must be considered by the nesting algorithm. These include multi-tool nesting and technologies such as “n:m marking.”
Imagine cutting with 4 oxyfuel torches and marking the parts ahead with 2 arc markers or one inkjet printer. Then consider cutting one part with several tools – use plasma for the outer contour, and oxyfuel for the inner contour. Doing this with the click of a button significantly increases productivity.
It lends significant help in applying the appropriate machine and tool technology to every part or even every single tool-path. Maximum productivity may be achieved through one automated multi-pass bevel programming for various plasma bevels – Y, X, and K.
The usage of material is another key consideration. If a nesting system is capable of tracing every part and plate back to its original order or even distinct serial number, one can combine several order parts to use one plate. In the same way, the planning capability increases productivity and even margin on a part through better material usage. The ability to manage and organize remnant plate stock based on their actual shape is critical to be as cost effective as possible
This is also effective across several machines. So one central planning system makes a cutting workshop as effective as possible. It’s only with access to the complete order or planning information of all work and all of plate inventory that planning and nesting can be most efficient.
Getting the Most from a Nesting System
A nesting system offers all the functionality described in this article, but it is important to know how to use it to get the best results. Productivity is influenced by the knowledge of workflow, the machine technology, and the level of training the users of a CAM system have received.
It is also able to measure the planned and real productivity of machines. It does this by calculating and automatically monitoring production data that the machines deliver. Being able to measure it makes it easy to manage it. Thus, a nesting system focuses on efficiency and productivity.
A complete nesting system offers all this functionality.
Choosing Nesting Solutions
In deciding what nesting software to purchase, some items to consider include:
- CAD Import
- Process Parameters
- Automatic Nesting
- Productivity Tools
- Material and Inventory Optimization Tools
- Tool Path
- NC Output
- Management Reporting
- Business System Integration
Nesting and Labor
Nesting software can keep labor costs at a minimum. The software is able to calculate the best approach to nest cutting processes in a fraction of the time a programmer would spend on that.
The software is also able to do things like track inventory and work orders, sparing labor that would have been spent tracking material stock. More advanced software even track what parts go to which order, saving employee time that would otherwise be spent sorting parts after they are cut.
Multiple machines and steps are often needed to fabricate certain parts. It is necessary to control all parts of the process smoothly, determining the most efficient means of producing the part, before scheduling the work. This allows programmers schedule for several machines more quickly thus, do more work in the process. Advanced nesting software allows for greater precision about the materials on hand too. It is then possible to save material inventory costs by not stocking what is not not needed and reducing material waste.
The Case for Greater Automation
Effective manufacturing in this age should be more automated than manual. It should depend on technological resources to reduce our workload. Nesting software can undertake tasks traditionally requiring hundreds of hours to recycle only several minutes.
Simple straight-line parts appear easy to nest by hand, but the focus is often on product designs than simply lining straight edges up against each other.
An efficient software tool is a priceless asset to business that saves time and money in production, improving turnaround time and furthering a company’s reputation for efficient, reliable work.
Nesting Software Providers Worth Knowing
There are several remarkable nesting software providers that are making an indelible mark on the manufacturing world.
A robust nesting solution offering a wide array of modular, customizable features. With SigmaNEST, it is possible to import parts from any CAD system, automatically sort them into tasks by material and machine, optimize material usage and machine motion, post programs to any cutting machine, and track results from start to finish.
All manufacturers are welcome to use their preferred setup, but SigmaNEST offers a straightforward, efficient workflow that simplifies things for programmers and operators, while saving time and material. It has the ability to import parts from all 2D and 3D CAD systems, integrate work orders and quotes from any ERP system, offering a strong breadth and depth of functionality that ensures accurate part cutting, optimal material usage, and reduced cutting time.
It is a great match for all mainstream profile cutting systems including laser, plasma, waterjet, punch, oxyfuel, knife cutters, and router.
Described as the world’s most efficient desktop nesting solution, NestFab offers material savings in the quickest possible time. It can export nested layouts for any controller or CNC software.
It also saves time and plate, and offers fully integrated help documentation.
An Autodesk offering, so one can count on its high quality. TruNest helps translate, optimize, and manufacture the nest on all standard machines and lets anyone work with composites, wood, plastics, sheet metal, cloth, and leather.
It is also a fully integrated, automated nesting software for several materials and machines. It can import required CAD data to create high efficiency, optimized nests. Files may be written in any software and output in any format. With complex nesting algorithms, the most efficient nest results are possible, and there is the benefit of intelligent, cost-driven calculations to maximize inventory value.
TruNest plays well with ERP/MRP systems to retrieve orders and also report production data. It can track inventory of material and remnant stock, while improving cutting techniques to reduce machining time and reducing cost. TruNest can generate NC code from customized post processors.
MyNesting takes nesting software open source, providing a solution that may be extended to suit various manufacturing environments. This allows automation of the nesting creation process at a really low cost relative to other nesting solutions.
Exporting to nested items is a paid service, though MyNesting is free to download and use. This means buying Nest Credits or buying an unlimited nesting subscription for 30 or 90 days.
DeepNest is also open source. It is perfect for CNC machines fitted with laser, plasma, and other cutting tools. DeepNest is quite lightweight and intuitive, with an easy “pay as much as you want” style. Users everywhere can access the software’s features.
There is automatic line merging in Deepnest, allowing you save time and material by creating efficient cutting plans from computer algorithms. The part layout allows nesting bitmap images to be set up for laser engraving.
Can read SVG, DXF, and Corel CDR files, while it can write to DXF and SVG files.
Integrating Nesting for ERP
Layout optimization is managed in specialized nesting applications with highly customized and costly integration to ERP business applications to manage the material requirements, job details, and actual production orders.
For robust integration to popular nesting applications and ERP systems, CADTALK NEST is the preferred choice. It is able:
- to capture production data from nesting software for ERP jobs and work orders
- transform CAD bills of material to ERP bills of material with additional data necessary for production
- improve manufacturing material planning, scheduling, and costing
CADTALK NEST standardizes the integration between nesting software and ERP application, guaranteeing cost-effective integration that supports new versions of both applications (nesting software and ERP).
Hopefully, this removes any complexities in understanding the role of nesting software in today’s manufacturing efforts.