Category Archives: Nesting Process

Nesting Process. The methods by which cnc nesting is completed and/or evaluated.

The Difference Between Optimation’s Machine Interface and a Post Processor

Optimation supplies a “machine interface” with the nesting software to drive the individual machines.  Some may think it is a standard “post processor,” which generates the “g-code” for the machine.  In truth, it is much more.

Overview

The Machine Interface is a component of the overall knowledge base.   The Machine Interface is used in every step of the process from part programming to final output of the nest.   This technology obsoletes the prior concept of a post processer that is run after all other functions are complete.

The Machine Interface is a model of the machine that provides detailed information needed to perform part programming and nesting functions.   It also has a programming interface to allow for special functions and conditions during the creation of the machine code.   This programming interface is unique to Optimation’s Machine Interface technology and allows detailed intelligent code to be created for each machine as conditions require.

The following sections will provide more detail regarding the functions of the Machine Interface.

CAD Interface and Part Programming

The Machine Interface is first employed to convert CAD data into part programs usable for nesting and single part programs.   This function takes into account all machine capability and limitations.   Special programming is employed to handle complex issues for each part.   Examples for contour cutting are custom lead-ins, intelligent common cutting, cut path optimization, feed rate based upon geometry, part tabbing, marking and etching and many more programming practices.   Examples for tooling based machines like turret punch presses include tool management, optimal preferred tool selection, tabbing tool selection, common punching, repositioning, trap door and material handling, special tools and extrusions, high speed marking and punch marking and many more.

The Machine Interface is programmable.   This allows our application engineers to be creative in solving special needs during the programming process.   This power allows for automatic programming even when special circumstances are present.

The Machine Interface is a critical part of the Optimation’s technology which allows for automatic programming.   Automatic programming eliminates untold hours of mindless button pushing by highly skilled and highly paid people.   With automated programming, some of your most knowledgeable and talented people are set free to perform more important tasks.

Nesting

The Machine Interface is heavily used during the nesting process.   Without knowledge of details of the machine during nesting, the nest will not be optimal.   Common cutting, tool path optimization, tool setup optimization, material efficiency and many more functions are decided during the nesting operation.   There are too many machine specific details that are considered during nesting to cover them all in this description.   A few examples include clamp placement, tool hit sequence, extrusion tool interference, number of torches, trap doors, tabbing and repositioning; there are many many more.

By using the Machine Interface during nesting, the nest results match the machine function and the nest is optimized for the machine.

Generation of Machine Code

The final step is to create machine code.   The Machine Interface obsoletes the concept of a post processor.   At output the Machine Interface accounts for every function of the machine.   The programmable interface allows Optimation’s application engineers to accommodate both standard and special circumstances.   This ability optimized machine performance and makes possible functions that post processors are incapable of performing.

The result is a system that creates optimal machine performance without compromise.   The intelligence of the Machine Interface eliminates the need to constantly interact with the nest.   This allows for advanced nesting strategies like batch and JIT Nesting without the need for human interaction.   These strategies create far more material efficient nests while responding in real time to hot parts and schedule changes.   Benchmarks have shown incremental savings from 5% to 16% in material efficiency.

Summary

The Machine Interface provides more automatic and better optimized programs for your machines.   It also makes possible advanced nesting technology that improves material efficiency.   This power is only offered by Optimation.   More integration, faster operation, optimal machine performance and greater material efficiency are the results of the Machine Interface.

 

Nesting Software and Offloading

It may seem like a simple operation – automatically taking cut parts off of a machine bed.  Surprisingly, it’s not so easy.

There are several mechanized enhancements to a laser or turret that automate the removal and sorting of completed parts.  Using these tools, which aid the operator, merit some forethought and proactive programming to maximize their effectiveness.  And that’s where intelligent nesting software comes in.

Suction Cups

Suction cups can be used to lift and remove completed parts from the bed.  Further, nesting software can be used to program the suction cups to intelligently select the parts and remove them.  That sounds easy enough until you realize all of the variables the software needs to take into account to make smooth work and not a disaster out of this task.  Here are a few points to consider.

 Selection and Lifting

  • Each part must be lifted by a sufficient number of suction cups to insure that the part is not dropped.   These cups must be distributed over a large percentage of the part or it will peel of and break the suction.   The first task of the nesting software is to determine the placement and number of suction cups needed to lift the part safely.  During nesting, parts are often rotated to different angles. Suction cup selection must accommodate the rotation of parts during nesting cup placement.
  • Another important consideration is controlling the point where the part is released from the raw material.   Once the part is released, it no longer can be positioned so that the unload device can reach it.   Because of this fact, the part must be released at a position that allows the unload device to position the suction cups over the part.   If the part is rotated, the release point must change to accommodate the new orientation.
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Unloading

  • Once the software has accomplished a safe lift, it must have a location to place the part in the unload area.   There are a number of strategies for unloading the parts that must be accommodated by the software.   The unload area often is a limited space designed to hold only a limited number of parts.   During nesting, the limitation of the unload area must be considered in order to insure that there is a place to unload a part placed on the nest.   The nesting software must manage the unload area and limit the number of parts that can be nested in this unload strategy.   One way to increase the unload area is to stack identical parts.
  • Another unload strategy is to clear the unload area each machine cycle.   This strategy removes the unload location restriction of the number of parts that can be nested but typically does not work in a lights out operation where there is no operator to unload the parts as the machine is running.
  • Another strategy is to unload the parts onto a conveyor that removes the parts from the area and transports them to the next operation.   The advantage of this strategy is that it removes the limitation of a fixed unload area and is compatible with light out operation.

There’s a lot to consider and requires a dynamic nesting software to meet the challenge.  Intelligent nesting software can overcome these obstacles of logic and orchestrate the equipment to provide highly efficient autonomous operations.

Trap Doors

Trap doors can be used to let gravity do the downloading of completed parts.  It’s a great idea to make the table work for the operator.  However, this, too, needs some forethought and programming, which the nesting software can accomplish to make the tool work optimally.

Like suction cup offloading, there may be a limit to the number of parts that can be offloaded down the trap door.   The nesting software must accommodate these physical limits during nesting.

  • Trap door parts also have a final release location that is causes the part to be positioned over the trap door.   This release location must be managed with as parts are rotated to improve nest efficiency.

Again, the machine operation is only as good as the nesting software driving it.  With the right nesting software, the two together can be a time, energy, and error saving team.

There are other offloading mechanisms available for the different cutting processes, but as you see here with these two examples, the nesting software can and should play a critical role in optimizing their effectiveness.

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Nesting Software Reports You Can Trust

How Efficient are Your Nests, Machines, Materials?

Many manufacturers, fabricators have at best a rough estimate or back-of-the-envelope guess as to the efficiency of their nests.  For most, it takes time and effort they simply don’t have during a busy work day to gather the data and run the numbers.

 

What Could You Do with Actionable Data?

How would it change the way you operate if you could easily and accurately know how efficient a given nest, material, machine, sheet size or any combination thereof is?  Could you order material more effectively?  Could you route parts to machines more intelligently?  Could you create better nests?  Could you save material, operator time, programming time or produce more product faster?

 

Optimation’s Sum of Sums Report

The Sum of Sums Report by Optimation is your answer to these questions and more.  Automatically, and with no manual interaction, Optimation collects thousands of data points on each nest per sheet, per material and per machine.  Every nest can be thoroughly analyzed with a quick review of the summary tables.

 

In Just a Few Minutes You Can Know –

  1. which nests are high (or low) efficiency
  2. which machines are performing well (or underperforming)
  3. which sheet sizes are best optimized
  4. which materials are seeing the highest efficiencies
  5. what the actual and rectangular (as if a rectangle is drawn around each part) efficiencies are for each nest
  6. how your efficiency level is holding up over time
  7. which parts are “problem parts” creating excessive waste

 

Built in Feedback Loop

Beyond being a robust but passive reporting device, the Sum of Sums output data can be integrated into your scheduling (MRP/ERP) system for real time updating of order status.  As parts are nested, the Sum of Sums reports back to your scheduler that the order is “complete,” and it can take those orders out of the order pool.  Fast, easy, efficient order management that closes the communication loop with scheduling.

 

With Knowledge Comes Improvement

With real, clear data based on how your nests, your parts, and your materials are performing you, too, can make intelligent choices to drive better, more productive operations.

 

Contact Optimation Today for More Information

877-827-2100 (toll free)

816-228-2100 x 223 (sales direct)

816-228-2100 x 222  (pre-sale technical direct)

How Good is Your Nest? | 8 Ways to Measure Quality

8 Ways to See Quality in a Nest

8 Ways to See Quality in a Nest

Manufacturers know there are countless production variables to be considered when fabricating parts on a punch, laser, plasma, waterjet or other fabrication machine.  How those variables factor into a nest is at the heart of an effective nesting strategy.

Consider these points when nesting:

1. CAN THE MACHINE TOOL PRODUCE THE NEST AS DESIGNED?

If the programmer does not take into consideration the machine requirements (reach, repositions, tooling stations, kerf allowances, etc.), the production may be stalled or halted to address unforeseen problems. Part quality may suffer. The machine may be damaged.  And certainly production time will be lost. Creating a quality nest means taking into consideration the ability to produce it.  Optimally, this consideration should happen at the time of design in a process called concurrent engineering. Read more …

What is Nesting Software?

What is Nesting Software?

What is Nesting Software?

That may be a self-evident question to some, but surprisingly, there are misperceptions about what really is “nesting software,” or, more to the point, what functionality actually defines nesting software.

In this discussion, I’ll outline what basic functions are most commonly found in nesting software, and I’ll parse out what functions you can additionally find in more advanced nesting software.

  1. The Nesting Algorithm (engine)– At the heart of every automated nesting software package is a nesting algorithm (formula) that looks at some quantity of parts then orients them to fit one or more sheets of material.  Interactive nesting seeks to achieve the same goal of putting parts on a sheet of material; however, the user is left to drag and drop or interactively do the thinking that automated software does.  With more automated nesting software, the user can use different nesting strategies such as just in time nesting, kit nesting or batch nesting to gain second and third level benefits (material efficiency, reduced programming time, etc.) Read more …

CNC Punch Turret Software | Making Formed Features

Punch Nesting Formed Parts

Punch Nesting Formed Parts

If you are running CNC punch presses or turret punch, you may already be intimately aware of the challenges faced when programming formed features.  If not, you may be wondering if creating formed features is a viable option or how it’s done with a CNC punch press.

Either way, today’s discussion is all about cracking open the mystery behind forming features from sheet metal that can only be achieved with CNC punching.  Our discussion will roll out along these lines. We’ll first define what formed features are, then look at the issues encountered in programming them, the problems created when the program isn’t done right, and finally, we’ll wrap this up with the solution you may be looking for to this sticky challenge. Read more …

4 Levels of Order Entry & Nesting Software Integration

Increasing Nesting Software Integration Over Time

Increasing Nesting Software Integration Over Time

One of the advantages of automatic nesting software is the ability to integrate with the existing order management or scheduling system (MRP/ERP) creating a seamless upstream and downstream information flow.

One of the concerns some manufacturing engineers have is what does this functionality mean to me if I’m not using an MRP/ERP system.  Is it more than I need? Or can I start with a simpler method and work up to something more sophisticated with full integration and/or JIT?

The Four Automation Levels of MRP/ERP and Automatic Nesting Integration

The good news for all manufacturing engineers is that order entry integration with automatic nesting isn’t an on/off switch.  There are levels of integration that you can dial up or down to suit your needs.  Further, as your operation gains sophistication, you can keep up with it without making software changes.  Automatic nesting software with MRP integration is a scalable tool that can grow with you and your needs.

Read more …

Evaluating the Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 4 of 4

How to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Steps to Evaluate the Nesting Process

This post concludes our series on evaluating the nesting process.  We’ve established a foundation for a process review, reviewed the CAD to CAM process, and looked at the order entry side of the equation.  Now we’ll turn to the heart of the nesting process, the actual creation of nests and output of tool paths to the equipment.  This is often the make-or-break element in the process that determines efficiency (material and time), throughput and the overall effectiveness of the sheet metal fabrication process.

Again, we’ll follow our method of first describing the status quo, evaluating it critically, then looking for alternatives.

Creation of the nest and tool path Read more …

How well is your part ordering system working? | Part 3 of 4

How to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Steps to Evaluate the Nesting Process

In the last two blog posts we’ve first laid a foundation for evaluating a process, then applied that foundation to the CAD to CAM process or geometry acquisition and data cleaning and storage steps.  As you know the nesting process takes input from two areas – design and scheduling.  Now we’ll turn to the other side of the equation (parts + orders = nests), and evaluate the order entry and order communication process as it relates to nesting.

Every manufacturer has a capturing and communicating order information approach.  It can be a paper-based system with travelers and making use of the “sneaker-net” to transfer the information.  It can be an Excel spreadsheet with a list of customer orders and associated parts, or it can be a sophisticated MRP/ERP system which is updated in real time.  Regardless of the tools in place, there are fundamental process requirements that can be described, evaluated, and compared to alternatives.

Here we go. Read more …

Best Sheet Metal Nesting Process Questions | CAD to CAM | Part 2 of 4

How to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Steps to Evaluate the Nesting Process

In the last blog post we laid out an architecture by which we can critically evaluate a nesting process.  To review, our evaluation process starts with a clear and detailed description of the nesting process, they we ask “why” about each of those defined steps, finally we look for constructive alternatives. Our goals in sum are identifying challenges, means to improve the process, and overall opportunities for efficiencies.

Today we’ll apply our evaluation architecture or system to the processes we’re most familiar with in nesting – collection of part geometry and creation of the part program.

We start at the beginning of the nesting process for most manufacturers, which is creating, identifying, moving, cleaning, and all around getting the geometry from where it is to a place – literally and figuratively – where it can be manufactured.  Read more …

How to Evaluate Your Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 1 of 4

How to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Steps to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Most would agree that sheet metal nesting is process.  There are steps; some sequential, some parallel. The activities flow; sometimes well, sometimes not so well. Decisions are made, information is shared, and actions are taken.  The sum of which is a process.

Even though there is significant value to looking critically at the process, most manufacturers rarely review the it unless there is a mandate to begin a Lean Initiative, a major problem, or an alternative sheet metal software solution is under consideration, which is sometimes indicative of a major problem.   Why? Because the day to day management of the process is all consuming. Read more …

Does Mixing Shop Orders Make You Nervous?

Not Dynamic Nesting of Mixed Orders

Not Dynamic Nesting of Mixed Orders

Does the thought of mixing orders in a nest strike fear into your heart?  Or does it just feel better to keep your items separate, like food on a tray -  no mixing allowed.

This probably isn’t you, but maybe you’ve heard of others, who under penalty of death, will not mix orders when nesting.  It’s true.  We hear about it a lot.

Although I’m having a little fun with it here, some have very real concerns about mixing parts from different orders, jobs, customers on a single or series of nests.  And those concerns are probably based in real-world, nightmarish experiences.

Today, we’ll look at the challenges of mixing orders and some best practices and tools to address them.  Then we’ll consider why mixing orders would be beneficial when done right and with the right tools.  Finally, we’ll ask the questions you may be asking to determine if mixing sheet metal nesting orders is right for you.

Challenges in Mixing Orders When Nesting

Shop Floor Chaos

The biggest concern we hear about mixing orders, jobs, customers Read more …

Optimation & Inventor Integration

Optimation & Inventor Automation & Integration

Optimation & Inventor | CAD/CAM Integration

Optimation® stands alone as a leading CAM or nesting automation specialist.  Optimation has focused its more than 30 years of research, development and expertise on developing best-in-class nesting automation. Similarly, AutoDesk® has become ubiquitous in the CAD design field by becoming the tool of choice upon which most designers learn.  Inventor is one of their flagship products charting new advancements in technology.

When acting independently, these tools can and do make significant transformations in the automation of a production environment.  Individually, they create a multiplier effect with the productivity of the resources – individuals, equipment, and raw materials – at hand. Integrated they can further leverage their individual impact. Read more …

CAD to CAM | Process Problem Solving

Solving Production Problems with CAD/CAM

Solving Production Problems with CAD/CAM

Is the boss concerned about waste?  Are you asked to make cuts?  If so, you’re not alone.  Many manufacturers are belt-tightening.  However, the challenge most run into is finding waste beyond the obvious pile of scrap material.

The good news for searchers is that waste is everywhere.

Today, we’ll look at the CAD/CAM process in light of the lean manufacturing concept of “value stream.”  With this approach we’ll find lots of waste to root out and lots of unsung value in our processes. Read more …

CAD to CAM | 4 Best Practices Relaying Manufacturing Data

How to Manage Manufacturing Data | CAD to CAM

Relaying Information from CAD to CAM

Today we spoke to a manufacturer, who shared with us his process of taking geometries from AutoCad® to his nesting package.  It seems he exports them out of AutoCad, saves as DWG files segregated by material type, strips out all the non-cutting, non-tool path data by hand, and saves these edited files in another file for retrieval from the nesting software.

Maybe a piece or two of this cumbersome and frustration-ripe story resonates with your experiences or the experiences of another company you’ve heard about.  It strikes me that in this scenario, there can be a lot of opportunities for error in passing manufacturing data from CAD to CAM by missing a step, grabbing the wrong file, or processing parts based on incorrect information.  Ouch.  If this rings even a little true to you, allow me to suggest a few alternative ways of looking at this process that could save significant time, error, and frustration. Read more …

CAD to CAM | 4 Ways to Manage Revisions

Optimation_CNC_Nesting_Revision_Management

Managing Part Revisions with Optimation CNC Nesting Software

Most manufacturers we encounter have to manage part revisions.  They know there will always be design changes.  And they know changes can be very disruptive to the production process, and changes are ripe for errors.

So, the question arises, how best to manage the inevitable change with minimal disruption and error when communicating designs from CAD to CAM.  Here are four ideas we like to recommend. Read more …