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Workflow for laser cutting manufacturing?

AnthonyKMAnthonyKM Member, User Group Leader Posts: 11 ✭✭
So I'm asking this question to see if I can improve my work flow for laser cutting manufacturing. 
This question is for those who work with laser cutting, waterjet cutting, or any manufacturing process where you need to organize a story board of DXF files. 

Currently my process is to export any part I need as a DXF file. Once I have all the DXF files exported I use a vector image program (inkscape) to layout and nest the parts onto a storyboard which I will send to a manufacture. This process works and I can precisely key in where i want all the parts place. However I need to do this every time I have a new iteration and since I'm doing all the layout manually it takes a while and there can be human error (e.g. missing parts). 

My plan was to change this workflow so that parts are laid out in OnShape, and what I export is the DXF file I plan on sending to the manufacture. First I tried organizing normal views of each laser cut part in a drawing, and export the drawing. This is okay for working with the parts in a story board, I can rotate and orient things the way I would like to and it will update with the CAD model. 
However the down side here is that there is no way I can find to precisely place parts on the drawing similar to the constraints/dimensioning available in sketching.  I would like to minimize material usage when manufacturing, while still ensuring minimum spacing, but this requires having precise control over placement of parts. 

Another thing I tried was the Autolayout feature script tool. This is a very interesting tool and certainly has potential, however I see a lot more value for this tool if one was working with many different laser cut designs. For setting up the layout of the parts this tool just doesn't have the same nesting capability and customization as organizing the parts manually. If I was good enough at featurescript and had the background/time improving this tool could prove to be a solution in the future. But for now it would be a lot of effort for something which might not amount to much, and I can think of simpler feature script applications I'd start with. 

The final method I have thought of would be organizing flat assemblies of parts. Everything would be laid out using mate connectors. This option has potential in that everything would update correctly, and it would give me precise control over placement. The only down side I see here is that organizing a 2D story board in a 3D assembly space will be a messy process. Particularly if I want to change how something is positioned it may effect many parts in the layout, so this is also not an ideal solution. 

So anyone have a better way of doing this work? I'm interested to hear your workflows/ideas for organizing flat parts. 


Best Answer


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    AnthonyKMAnthonyKM Member, User Group Leader Posts: 11 ✭✭
    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the info. I'm interested in checking both out, I will send over my email right away.

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    Ben_MisegadesBen_Misegades Member Posts: 133 ✭✭✭
    I'm curious as to why you're having to "storyboard" or nest the parts? Usually you just send the .dxf's and a list of how many of each you need, the nesting software at the fabricators does the rest
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    AnthonyKMAnthonyKM Member, User Group Leader Posts: 11 ✭✭
    Hi Ben,

    For my suppliers they said it would speed up quoting and lead time if I send over the full story board instead of the separate DXF files. They are smaller shops so they might not have great automated nesting software, or in some cases I think they are also doing it manually. It's not too big of a hassle to do it this way, but just wanted to explore other options for potentially speeding up the process. 


    I checked out the "2D Nesting software for Laser Cutting". It is decent, a little bit better than the Auto Layout feature script 
    as it can recursively optimize part layout. However because it cannot rotate parts or nest parts inside other parts it frankly 
    isn't as optimal as I can get the boards manually, though it does makes the work a lot faster. I realize that software with those sorts of nesting capabilities would likely cost much more. This software seems like it would be best suited for models with no parts CAD'd at angles to the base coordinates, and with no large cutouts. I can see the value in this software if you do a lot of laser cutting of different models(i.e. a shop) and can't afford the time to layout the parts manually.

    Interested in seeing this other app you mentioned, as I'm exploring the idea of some hybrid layout workflow. For example having the larger parts placed with an automated tool, and then manually fitting in smaller, and angled parts. Could get the best of both worlds that way. 

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    luis_carvalho222luis_carvalho222 Member Posts: 8
    joe_dunne said:
    There are 2 applications specifically designed to tackle this problem.

    Both will take the Onshape parts, and lay them out automatically using nesting algorithms for optimal space allocation. Each is a little different but ultimately will create output in DXF and SVG to directly send to your laser or waterjet cutter. machine setup,  Kerf correction inside outside cutlines etc... 

    One is public


    The other is available on request. You can send me your Onshape email and I can get you access to this app if you are interested.




    Hi Joe, Sry, maybe i am a little late, but i am looking for theses applications, i followed the link but i could not find any app... could u help me? Is these app yet avaliable on onshape? TY by the way!
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    michael3424michael3424 Member Posts: 682 ✭✭✭✭
    Some folks like DeepNest for nesting laser cut parts:

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