4 Replies Latest reply on Dec 12, 2016 6:21 PM by Justin Lee

    "Packing" (Nesting) techniques?

    Justin Lee

      Lets say I have several irregular shapes in irregular quantities that i need to cut out of a single 4x8' sheet of plywood.


      I can manually drag these shapes around to pack a 4x8 frame (as in the attachment below), but is there any way to automate this task within solidworks?


      That is, does Solidworks have a built in "packing" algorithm to efficiently distribute shapes within a container?  (e.g.: Packing problems - Wikipedia)


      Trying to accomplish a something like this, without a lot of time/labor that will also minimize wasted material...


        • Re: "Packing" techniques?
          James Pare

          SWX does not have nesting, there are some add ins that can do it

          But it's extra $

          • Re: "Packing" techniques?
            Arthur McRae

            We use another program for that, either V-Carve or En-Route as they work with our 4 axis router system.

            • Re: "Packing" techniques?
              Justin Lee

              Ok, nesting.. packing.. etc..  would be a useful tool in solidworks.... (quick!, call your VAR and tell them you want this functionality!)


              So, solidworks lacks this ability natively, but I did find a workaround that although not perfect, it's still pretty useful.


              I found an Adobe Illustrator plugin called "eCut Nesting" (http://illustrator.e-cut.ru/index.php) that is reasonably cheap (w/free demo) and does a reasonably good job of showing a good way to nest objects.


              The eCut output isn't of direct use in solidworks proper, but it gives a good idea on how to efficiently lay things out manually -- so the hard work of fitting all the objects in the container is done by eCut.. I just have to go in an replicate that layout in a solidworks assembly...


              II started in solidworks by laying out my 4x8' panel and a series of objects that need to be nested within, in an assembly. Then I placed that assembly in a drawing..  I exported that drawing as a PDF and opened in Illustrator..


              I did a little cleanup to remove un-needed elements like dimension lines, etc, then activated the eCut Nesting plugin...  You tell it which object is your container, click the check box for "search for best solution", set the "minimum distance" to 1 and click apply.   After some processing it returns a result with a preview of your objects nested in the specified container.


              I started with the jumbled shapes in the top image (exported as pdf from solidworks drawing)...  eCut/Nesting output the middle image and i used that as a guide to layout my final/bottom version in a sldwks assembly.





              So, using the eCut Illustrator plugin is not totally automated or ideal..  But it gives a good starting point and can eliminate a fair bit of trial and error when nesting/packing objects.  With more complex shapes, eCut could be really handy.


              Hope this helps!