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NESTING SOFTWARE FOR LASER CUTTING
Laser cutting plywood (Source: ZB-Laser AG)
Laser cutting is a convenient way of slicing through large quantities of durable, industrial-grade materials such as sheet metal and wood. In recent years, laser cutters have become much more affordable and accessible. But without the right software, they?re essentially useless?
In order to prepare any complex multi-part designs for cutting, you?ll need software that?s capable of nesting. In the CNC world, nesting refers to efficiently arranging pieces to make the most of a single piece of material.
CNC Nesting: All About This CNC Cutting Method
The following nesting tools will help reduce costs and cut down on waste. Looking for more general software? Check out our article on laser cutting design tools.
Autodesk TruNest (Source: Autodesk)
TruNest comes from one of the leaders in the CAD world, Autodesk. It?s one robust piece of software that can be integrated with your existing systems in many convenient ways. For instance, it can communicate with your ERP/MRP systems to track orders and material inventory. But perhaps its most interesting feature is advanced nesting capabilities.
Though this is an industrial-grade tool, it can be used by small shops, as well.
It also supports direct data exchange with other CAD software such as AutoCAD and Inventor. And just for good measure, it accepts many common file types, such as DXF, IGES, STEP, and DWG.
ProNest helps you make the most of your materials (Source: SoulcraftCLE)
ProNest makes nesting easy with several key features. First, you have your choice of manually nesting your design, or letting ProNest do it automatically as you work. ProNest makes automatic adjustments as you tweak your design, and it gives you detailed reports so you can adjust your future processes as you see fit.
It also supports other cutting processes like plasma, oxyfuel, and waterjet, so if you?re looking to expand beyond laser cutting but want to keep the same productivity, ProNest works.
Deepnest's nesting prowess at work (Source: Deepnest)
Deepnest is an open-source nesting software available for free. It doesn?t offer any editing features whatsoever, but it does one thing and it does it well. Simply import your files and hit ?Start Nest?. It will start iterating through various nesting combinations until you hit ?Stop?. Save the one you like the most and send it to your laser cutter. It can export to DXF and SVG file formats.
Deepnest will arrange your parts so you can reduce the cutting time and material usage. To do this, it will automatically merge common lines and put smaller parts in larger cavities. Such nesting capabilities are essential for serious laser cutting operations, and you certainly won?t regret using this tool.
SVGnest working its nesting magic (Source: SVGnest)
SVGnest is a browser-based nesting tool and uses the same nesting algorithm as Deepnest. This is a very simple tool you should definitely try. After all, it doesn?t require any kind of installation whatsoever. Just upload your SVG file and hit ?Start Nest?. When it?s done, you can download a newly-created SVG file, ready for laser cutting.
You may not want to depend on this tool every day, but when you?re out of options, it could be very handy. At least you know you?re safe if, for some reason, your dedicated solution calls it quits.
SigmaNEST is a potent tool (Source: SigmaTEK Systems)
SigmaNEST is an industrial-grade software made by SigmaTEK Systems. It?s suitable for shops owning tens of cutting machines. With support for CNC lasers, waterjet cutters, plasma cutters, and more, SigmaNEST is extremely versatile. It has modules for tube cutting, sheet metal bending, punching, and much more.
This tool is compatible with most 3D and 2D CAD tools on the market today. Given that, SigmaNEST could be the way to go if you?re looking to do much more than laser cutting.
The MyNesting file import process (Source: MyNesting)
Maybe you need something more than a free nesting program but don?t have the budget for expensive industrial nesting software. MyNesting is somewhere in the middle. It?s ideal for individuals and small businesses who have an infrequent need for nesting software. Due to its unique pricing scheme, you?ll pay only as much as you use it.
Here is how it works: The first step is to download and install the free MyNesting software from their website. Then, sign up for a free MyNesting account and launch the tool. Import your files and start automatic nesting.
Once you?re happy with the result, export a newly created file. This is the point where payment is required. Every export will cost you one Nest credit, which is equal to $7.50. Alternatively, you could opt for a subscription and pay one monthly fee for unlimited exports.
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