Remnant Nesting

Irregular Sheet Metal Remnant Nesting

Irregular Sheet Metal Remnant Nesting

Nesting on irregular-shaped remnants can make a significant difference on material yield.  And if you are a manufacturer focused on reducing waste and improving yield, here’s a nesting strategy that could prove very helpful.

Manufacturers often have to create large, non-rectangular parts in small quantities.  These parts can and do fill the majority of the area on a metal sheet; however, they still leave a sizeable amount of usable space inside voids and around the exterior.  This usable space, or remnant, isn’t necessarily rectangular, as many remnants are.  The remnant naturally follows the negative contour of the single large part removed from the sheet.

Irregular-Shaped Remnant Nesting Challenges

When a programmer is faced with an odd-shaped, sheet metal remnant he is challenged with a couple problems in attempting to use the material efficiently.

  1. The programmer can’t simply type in the X & Y coordinates of a rectangular sheet or remnant.  The irregular sheet isn’t rectangular.
  2. The cutting equipment can’t “see” where the hole in the material is to avoid cutting there.  Not able to cut around the void safely, the programmer risks head collisions and damage to the equipment.

Programming Work-Around Strategies

There are a few work-around strategies the programmer and/or equipment operator can use that would solve the challenge with varying efficiency results.

  1. The irregular-shaped material could be cut down to a rectangular shape consistent with its largest “x” and “y” dimensions.  The interior voids, which may be sizeable, are discarded.  This makes use of at least some of the sheet, but wastes the interior void material.
  2. The remaining skeleton could be manually measured and programmed into the nesting software to be “seen” as an irregular shaped sheet.  The software could then create a sheet layout or program to use the material.  This makes use of more of the material but takes valuable programming time.

The Nesting Automation Alternative Strategy

In a perfect world, there would be no remnants because the sheet metal software intelligently optimized all of the sheets of material.  However, we know that isn’t the case.  Large, odd-shaped parts will continue to create a special nesting challenge, and remnants will persist.

So, the next best solution to the complete absence of remnants would be nesting software that automatically captures the digital shape of the irregular skeleton – the exterior dimensions and the interior voids.  Then automatically labels it as a unique material shape, and automatically recalls it when parts and orders seem viable for nesting on it.  In this approach, the irregular skeleton is optimized for the maximum material available.  Additionally, the programming time involved in creating and using the nest is negligible to non-existent.    The user gets the best of both worlds – high material yield and minimal material waste.

The Amazing Shrinking, Reused Remnant

Additionally, the irregular skeleton could be cut, nested on, and saved repeatedly as the material is consumed with single parts or small quanitites not completely using the sheet.  Each time the remnant shrinks.  Imagine this material is rarely used, and large parts are cut singly.  So the first large part is cut.  The irregular remnant is saved.  Then a couple more, smaller parts are cut from the first irregular-shaped remnant.  The new, second-generation irregular-shaped remnant is saved, labeled, and stored for nesting a third time.  This process can repeat indefinitely until the skeleton is so small as to be of no further use.

Again, the material is well used and the programming time is nominal.

Bottom Line Savings

Manufacturers who handle large, odd-shaped parts don’t have to give up on material efficiency or simply wish they had customers longing for lots of little parts they could use as fill-in.  With the right nesting software, and a remnant-capturing plan, multiple percentages of material efficiency can be retrieved where none was thought possible – or easily managed – previously.

Are you challenged with nesting large odd-shaped parts?  What solutions have you found?  Is material yield a concern?  Share your story.

For nesting software with the power to handle irregular-shaped parts, contact Optimation.

Notice: This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA. Permalink: Remnant Nesting

2 comments on “Remnant Nesting

  1. Pingback: CNC Automatic Nesting Software | Does Mixing Shop Orders Make You Nervous? | Optimation Blog

  2. Pingback: 4 Ways to Maximize Material Yield on Sheet Metal Remnants | Optimation Nesting Software Blog

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