Using a cut layout optimizer is not what we call news these days. However, just because we use a nesting program doesn't mean we are getting maximum savings.
This article lists 5 important tips sometimes ignored to make great usage of sheet layout optimizers, making sure the generated diagrams are feasible to manufacture at the shop floor.
1 - Set Cutting Width (Kerf)
Most of cutting processes lead to material loss. Usually this loss is similar to the cutting tool thickness, but not equal. For plywood it can be around 4mm while for stone it could be 8mm or more. Water jet and laser can thinner cuts while plasma not so much.
The important is to make sure you configure this value correctly on the nesting program so it can create diagram that compensate the material loss were it is necessary. This parameter is also known as Kerf or cut thickness.
2 - Material Grain
Some special boards and sheets may have a special grain direction or texture. Stones, MDF, Plywood, HDF usually have patterns to look more natural.
If this is the case, you must set this information in the nesting program. If not, the layout optimizer may "rotate" the part layout on the board to find a better material yield. This is completely acceptable for sheets with no special surface tough.
3 - Measurement Unit
Every company uses a preferred measurement unit and formatting for its projects. We don't recommend any specific measurement unit, but we do recommend using a precision that does not involved decimal numbers.
For example, it would be better to work with millimeters instead centimeters. Typing fractional numbers and decimal separators usually leads to mistakes that are hard to find.
The most important here is to keep a coherence between the values you enter for parts, sheets, board thickness etc. Otherwise you will have disproportional cutting layouts.
4 - Group Orders and Parts
To make layout optimizer works great and create high usage diagrams, it is best to have several parts with several dimensions and quantities.
Try to group together orders to increase shape diversity that will lead to several sheets with great layout combinations closer to 100% material usage.
5 - Typing Errors
An additional or missing "0" can lead to big errors, like producing the wrong part. The latter this error is detected, more expensive the cost will be.
The process of typing width, length and quantity of every cutting list part is error prone. Checking out if every part is there is also very time consuming.
The best way of avoiding errors is to minimize the changes for them happen. If you have the part list in another software, text file, Excel spreadsheet or any other electronic document, you should investigate how to import this file into your nesting otimization program.