Tag Archives: sheet metal software

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 …

Nesting Software | 8 Best Practices to Gain Productivity

Does the nest meet all production requirements?

Does the nest meet all production requirements?

When sheet metal nesting every parameter, machine setting, order sequence, or part layout choice impacts nesting productivity – time & material.

There are countless sheet metal fabrication requirements to be considered when placing parts on a CNC punch, laser, plasma, waterjet or router.  The design, the fabrication requirements, and the order sequence can have a significant impact on the quality of the nest.  How well those requirements are respected when compiling a  nest is at the heart of an effective sheet metal nesting strategy.

Let’s look some of the real world demands that these requirements place on a programmer when nesting, and more significantly, the tools and techiques available improve your numbers today. Read more …

Nesting Efficiency Figures – What Everybody Ought To Know

Measuring Sheet Metal Nesting Material Efficiency

Measuring Sheet Metal Nesting Material Efficiency

Here’s A Quick Way To Understand Sheet Metal Nesting Efficiency Numbers

Why Manufacturers Track Material Efficiency

Manufacturers track their material efficiency for a few reasons. They follow efficiency numbers as a means of keeping an eye on day-to-day costs.  They look at variances in their material efficiency numbers to see if any production changes (part mix, sheet size, trim allotment) have made a difference in efficiency.  Finally, manufacturers frequently look at material efficiency as one basis for evaluating the return on investment when sizing up different sheet metal nesting software or CAM packages.

How to Measure Material Efficiency

We  now turn to the task of measuring or calculating material efficiency.  Read more …

How to Shop for Nesting Software

Sheet Metal Software Shopping Tools & Techniques

Sheet Metal Software Shopping Tools & Techniques

Whether you’re in the market now or think buying sheet metal software may be a project in the future, it’s helpful to have tools and techniques to make the process easier, more efficient and a productive use of your time.

Assuming you’re not a professional buyer or in the corporate product acquisition department, you may not be used to identifying, evaluating, requisitioning, budgeting, and purchasing sheet metal software.  It can be a daunting task for the uninitiated or the already busy.

Indeed, most manufacturing engineers, programmers, or even manufacturing management doesn’t concern themselves with the software acquisition process on a day-to-day basis.  Their focus is all about producing parts and products.  And suffice to say, there isn’t a lot of overlap in the steps and processes involved in purchasing software and producing a product.  So there is often a fairly large, on-the-job learning curve to be had for anyone endeavoring to research and purchase sheet metal software. Read more …

How to Estimate Material Yield and Machine Time | Laser Cutting Software

Estimating Material Yield and Machine Time

Estimating Material Yield and Machine Time

Introducing | Project Estimator by Optimation

I think it is fair to say that most – if not all – manufacturers are scoped-in pretty tightly on their costs these days. Competition – global and domestic – economic turns, and rising energy prices are forcing a heightened awareness of costs.

Any tools to help predict and evaluate costs using actionable data would be a welcome asset.

Wanted: Material Yield and Machine Time Information

Wouldn’t it be great to know how much a part would cost before you produce it? 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 …

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 Read more …

Nesting Software | 4 Best Practices When Kit Nesting

Optimation Assembly Manager Nesting Software

Optimation Assembly Manager Nesting Software

Some manufacturers – maybe you – build products out of component parts.  Those completed products are kits or assemblies or units, depending on the term you use.  Some parts are sheet or plate metal; some are not.  Some parts involve extensive post-fabrication work (bending, forming, painting); some not.  But the one thing all kit parts have in common is that they belong together.  Kits are designed as a unit and need to be programmed together, nested together, cut or punched together, assembled together, and ultimately delivered together, which creates a rather difficult production challenge.

How do you keep the assembly parts together in a cohesive unit, while reducing the programming time, managing the material yield, and not slowing down machine productivity?  There are sheet metal software best practices to help.  Often times one or two of these goals are sacrificed to achieve another goal in what is seen as a zero-sum game.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  There are tools and practices that can help achieve all of these goals in concert and without sacrificing one good for another.  Let’s look at some of the day-to-day challenges kits present and some solutions to the problems. Read more …

Six Ways to Eliminate Waste | Nesting Software

Stop Wasting Time & Material

Nesting Software Eliminates Time & Material Waste

There are a handful of practical ways to eliminate waste and add value to a product.  In order to best see their impact, we’ll put them in the context of the Lean Manufacturing concept of “value stream.” To do this we first have to understand how to add value,  and what is “waste.” The value stream is the set of all the specific actions required to bring a specific product to a customer.

Every time you add value to the product  you are contributing to the value stream and enhancing the worth of the product for the customer.  If you’re not enhancing the value, you are not adding to the value stream.

Value Stream in Manufacturing

The value stream is every process applied to your product that enhances the value to the customer.  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 …