By all means look into the autonesting software. I implemented it in a company I worked for about nine years ago. Our material utilization went up from the low 60's to the low 80's (percent of part weight vs. sheet weight). The software cost us $20k at the time with $5k for training. It paid for itself in one month! We weren't even utilizing common-line cutting, which would have increased our utilization even further.
Note that we measured material utilization on the weight of the punched parts vs. the sheet weight. This was different for each and every sheet, but the software should produce that number for each sheet.
Our sheetmetal operations, the turret presses, were our bottleneck. We had been running whole sheets programmed to punch a single part, but as many as could be fit on it. That is easy to run, but very inefficient with the material usage. However, the bigger problem was the time. If we needed three more parts punched to add to the shelf stock in order to make an order, but the sheet made 60, well, you got 57 that went in stock after the sheet was punched. Some would argue that isn't so bad, but the real problem was that we also needed 12 of another part and 7 of another, etc., yet we had to punch large quantities at a time - a whole sheet for each part.
So long as the parts are the same gauge they can be nested on the same sheet: 3 of part A, 12 of B, 7 of C, etc. The mixture of different shaped parts actually helps with the more efficient nesting. Now we got what we needed much faster. Our punch presses ceased being our bottleneck. Our throughput went way up. Our work in progress and inventory went way down. In material utilization alone, the "hard dollars", we saved over $225k/year. But the bigger savings was in throughput, WIP, inventory, etc. Consequently, our backorders went away and our delivery times got shorter, which marketing put to good use. It was a beautiful example of how things should work as described in The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. Read it.
A few things to note.
1. Any flexible stamping process is supported by the autonesting software: turret presses, laser, plasma, etc.
2. Each sheet will be different as the software takes the parts and quantities and finds the most efficient material utilization.
3. Grain direction can be specified for each part if that is important.
4. If you are doing any volume at all the software will easily pay for itself.
Yes, after looking in to a few different programs I went with MyNesting.
MyNesting is free to download, easy to set up and use, and only charges you for exporting the nest. So for me, I can save all the .DXF flat patterns to a folder by gauge, then pop them in and get quick and accurate answers. If we decide to keep that nest we pay a credit to export it to our plasma.
We use SigmaNest for our initial prelim ordering and final nesting / cutting / drilling.
I have also used it for estimating for work.
Their is also the 3D option available which is SolidNest which combines SigmaNest with SolidWorks.
This allows you to nest & create burning / drilling NC from inside SolidWorks, although I think manual nesting is not supported.