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The present article focuses on what is a nesting system and why do you need one?
It is a CAM software (Computer Aided Manufacturing) that creates nests and prepares parts for cutting.
Nesting is the process of efficiently placing multiple shapes into a provided surface area. Raw materials and other plate materials are expensive in industrial cutting. Therefore, the best solution is to nest more parts together as possible. This process maximizes utilization, reduces waste, and minimizes material costs.
Traditionally, a nesting system has been considered as a numerical control (NC) programming tool, wherein two-dimensional models of components generated in CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software are used to generate G-code to drive computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines. Let us think of a nesting system as part of a CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) system.
As with other “Computer-Aided” technologies, CAM does not eliminate the need for skilled professionals such as manufacturing engineers, NC programmers, or machinists. CAM leverages both the value of the most skilled manufacturing professionals through advanced productivity tools while building the skills of new professionals through visualization, simulation, and optimization tools.
Today’s high-end nesting software is capable of doing much more than that and runs on a desktop PC. It streamlines the workflow of your cutting workshop beginning with the automated import of orders and parts, including their CAD geometry from your business system and plate inventory management up to the automated nesting and NC program generation for a variety of tools and machines.
The automated nesting process is only one, but critical part of programming software for CNC shape cutting machines. A variety of different machine technologies and tools must be considered by the nesting algorithm. It must be capable of multi-tool nesting and technologies like “n:m marking”. Imagine cutting with 4 oxy-fuel torches and marking the parts ahead with 2 arc markers or one inkjet printer. Imagine cutting one part with several tools, for instance, outer contour with plasma, inner contour with oxy-fuel. If this happens by the click of a button you increase your productivity significantly.
It assists in applying the correct machine and tool technology to every part or even every single tool path. Maximum productivity can be reached even with automated multi-pass bevel programming for plasma Y, X, and K bevels.
Also, the usage of material has to be considered. If a nesting system is capable of tracing every part and plate used back to its original order or even a unique serial number, you can combine several order parts to use one plate. So, the planning capability increases your productivity and even margin on a part through better material usage. The ability to manage and organize your remnant plate stock based on its actual shape is crucial to be as cost-effective as possible.
This also works across several different machines. So, one central planning system makes a cutting workshop as effective as possible. Only if you have access to the complete order planning information of all your work and all of your plate inventory can you plan and nest most efficiently.
As a complete efficient nesting system offers you all this functionality, you certainly have to know how to use it to be as effective as possible. So not only the knowledge about your workflow and your machine technology influences your productivity, but also the level of training the users of a CAM system have.
It also can measure the planned and real productivity of your machines by calculating and monitoring production data automatically delivered by the machines. If you can measure it, you can manage it.
Therefore, a nesting system is all about efficiency and productivity.