Nest utilization as a benchmark for purchasing nesting software
Guest post by Derek Weston, CAM software product marketing manager
As Product Marketing Manager for the software team, I always really enjoy going to industry shows because it gives me access to dozens of existing customers and even more potential customers; all at a single location. I find it an efficient way to gain access to market sentiment and obtain feedback about our products. After returning from these events, I reflect on the myriad of conversations I had while walking the show floor and working Hypertherm booths.
One conversation stuck in my mind. It was a discussion I had with an attendee shopping for nesting software. I asked the prospect what criteria he was using to make his purchase decision. He responded confidently, stating “material utilization on the nest.” To clarify I asked what he meant and he stated “You know. For a full plate nest, the percentage of metal used for parts and the percentage left over [scrap].” I’m not going to quote the entire conversation but I will explain why this is worth sharing via this blog. You see, as a marketing guy, I want to make sure folks have all the pertinent information at hand when making a purchase decision. After all, not only is that decision going to result in an initial software investment but the long-term implications can be immense.
In this instance, the potential buyer was focused on material savings from the software investment, which is not at all uncommon. And I get the focus on material use, since it’s typically a significant cost element of the job; impacting how competitive the bid is or how much profit can be made on the job. What I want to share here is there are other considerations that should be understood when benchmarking nesting software; including the impact on part quality. For example, when nesting parts, using appropriate lead length and style and also part-to-part / part-to-plate edge separations positively impacts part quality.
While using shorter leads and reducing the separations is possible and can improve material utilization, the negative outcome to part quality is a consideration. Lead placement on the part periphery is also a factor that impacts part quality. Using optimal lead location may not allow parts to orient and intersect with each other as effectively on the nest and can result in a lower utilization percentage. Also, if the nesting software is designed to nest parts first and then add leads, overall utilization may be improved but lead placement on the part periphery may be forced to locations that deliver sub-optimal part quality. Again, the trade-off is between material utilization and part quality. Of course, plate yield based on nest efficiency is just one aspect to consider when shopping for nesting software. Other important considerations include ease of use, the integration of advanced cut process parameters, the vendor’s ability to support the product, among others.
Hypertherm has just launched a major version upgrade to its ProNest advanced CAD/CAM nesting software for automated cutting. If you'd like to learn more about it, I invite you to join me this coming Friday (April 25) at 2 p.m. eastern time for a live webinar on the subject. You can learn more and register for this free webinar.