How to Identify Nesting Solutions with the Right Level of 3D CAD Integration

Today, 3D CAD models are driving downstream manufacturing processes. Whether you are a small job shop, large equipment manufacturer, or some place in between, your production shop’s ability to work effectively with your organization’s 3D CAD system is critical.  

Nesting software systems allow users to save programming time and related costs by providing seamless access to CAD assemblies and parts without having to export and translate between file types.

Direct access to native part and assembly file data is the key to fully leveraging the intelligence stored in these models, but it is easier said than done when design engineers are using one system and the fabrication programmers are using something else.  Only a handful of the top nesting software systems allow users to save programming time and related costs by providing seamless access to these assemblies and parts without having to export and translate between file types.

Engineering operations managers should consider these concepts when developing workflows between design engineers and machine shop programmers:

  • Powerful Nesting
  • Flexibility
  • Integration
  • Automation

Powerful Nesting

Advanced automatic nesting algorithms provide capabilities beyond basic or manual part layout creation. The results are tighter part layout and reduced scrap. The most powerful nesting systems utilize common-line cutting, pierce reduction strategies, clamp nesting and more to nest parts quickly and efficiently. A handful of nesting systems allow designers to actually design for manufacturing, giving them access to create nests as they design, making sure the design is feasible from a production standpoint.

Flexibility

Unlike machine-specific software, top nesting packages can drive virtually all brands and models of cutting, punching or bending machines.  This allows multiple fabrication machines to be programmed by a single programmer. Furthermore, the system you select should be scalable to your needs both now and in the future.

Integration

The best nesting systems connect with other in-house, design, manufacturing and business systems, like ERP, PLM and 3D CAD software. This provides seamless access to CAD models along with connectivity to inventory, scheduling, resource planning, supply chain and other enterprise-wide systems and processes.

Automation

Shop floor automation is the key to productivity, especially for job shops or steel service centers.  The right nesting system will reduce manual steps by preparing fast, accurate quotes and reports and manual machine programming. Production bottlenecks and scheduling conflicts should be eliminated to keep machines running at full capacity.

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