As a designer I’m always looking for the best tools that can make my workflow easier and smooth.
I’ve been working with RhinoCAM for years but it’s interesting to try independent softwares, for example some Grasshopper plugins for fabrication.
From the user point of view laser cut is probably the most accessible digital fabrication technology: it is fast and cheap and probably is the only technology that can be used for real rapid prototyping.
In manufacturing industry, Nesting refers to the process of laying out cutting patterns to minimize the raw material waste.
Wikipedia contributors. (2018, September 1). Nesting (process). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:42, May 9, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nesting_(process)&oldid=857503223
The process of nesting consists of a series of euclidean (rigid) transformations: by moving and rotating each element the software tries to find the best layout… like playing tetris!
A skilled Grasshopper user could also try to use some evolutionary solver (Galapagos, Opossum, …) to create a nesting script: the problem would be how to maintain all the elements outside of the others… not impossible, maybe slow, need some advanced skills…
I’ve recently found Deepnest free nesting software and I think it’s pretty amazing as it’s open-source, fast and super-easy to use.
You can download the software from the official website: https://deepnest.io/
The software comes with a bunch of examples so you can immediately run some tests and familiarize with it’s simple interface.
It also features some production-aware characteristics like merging common (overlapping) lines so the laser doesn’t pass two times along the same path.
It also works with raster images so engraving can be included in the nesting process.
I’ve made a quick test with a 3D model from Grasshopper Metaballs video course.
Deepnest automatically understands that concentric curves are part of the same element which makes it possible to work with hollow objects without problems.
Due to the organic shape of the elements I had to increase the number of rotations so that Deepnest could find better orientation (low value for rotations works fine with more regular elements).
I didn’t have the time to run a full nesting with these settings so I stopped after 4 iterations. Anyway the 4th iteration is already displaying a reasonable progress.
Download this simple stereotomy definition (Grasshopper).