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Productivity is a key component of any successful CNC shop, and is something CNC routers and plasmas help deliver in addition to extreme precision and custom capability. When it comes to streamlining efficiency and minimizing waste in your work, nesting is an important process you should be aware of, as well. Here’s everything you need to know about nesting and how to use it to boost productivity and reduce waste in your CNC work.
What is it ?
Nesting is a method for arranging parts to minimize cutting time and material waste. Imagine using the outline of your hands to cut out parts. Hold them side by side and look at the space they fill. Now interlace your fingers and watch how the space shrinks. That’s nesting, a while the idea seems simple, the algorithms needed to figure it out have been around for around 80 years.
Nesting started with the “rucksack problem”: determining how to pack the most odd-sized objects into a fixed space. Think about packing for a long trip when you can only bring one piece of carry-on luggage, or a shipping clerk at Amazon trying to find the smallest box that holds your order.
Nesting algorithms can also solve the “best fit” problem. Imagine trying to figure out how to cut a group of random length pieces out of fixed-length boards, bars, or extrusions to minimize waste. Extend this to high-volume manufacturing, and the need for nesting tools becomes evident.
so in general, Nesting refers to the process of laying out the patterns of a cut so as to reduce the cutting time and the amount of waste involved. It aims to produce as many parts as possible from as little material as possible. Here’s how.
How does nesting work?
As a concept, nesting can be thought of similarly to packing a box for a move or packing a suitcase for a trip. The goal when packing is to arrange all the items you need within their container such that everything fits compactly and minimal space is wasted. Nesting in CNC work is much the same, aiming to arrange as many of the parts to be cut as possible within as few sheets of material as possible – thus increasing your profitability.
How it’s done.
Nesting would be a difficult and complex process if done manually, which used to be the case in the past. Today, CNC shops use automated nesting software which uses algorithms to optimally arrange cuts within a piece of material. Nesting typically takes place between the design and machining phases and can trim a lot of time off the overall project.
The benefits of nesting
Nesting provides critical advantages for CNC work and can have a considerable impact on a project’s overall profitability. It serves to:
(1). Increase productivity
Nesting reduces the number of times you need to set the material and machine by performing more cuts on fewer pieces of material. It also minimizes the travel distance required of your CNC cutter and can allow different parts to share cut lines. After all – you only make money when the machine is cutting.
The automated capability provided by nesting software also means the nesting process is extremely efficient and accurate. These factors all contribute to the outstanding productivity benefits of nesting.
(1). Minimize waste
Utilizing as much of the sheet for cut parts as possible minimizes the portion of it that will ultimately go to waste. This also has a positive impact on overall revenue, as if you’re using less material and discarding less waste, you also don’t have to purchase as much material in the first place and are spending less on operating costs, etc.
While we can’t completely eliminate all waste, we can reduce it dramatically by putting nesting to work.
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