Nesting has been widely accepted in our industry for some time now. The concept of finishing parts on one machine station is efficient and it has particular benefits with dowel construction of cabinets as it pertains to cabinet sides, dividers and such.
Still there are challenges. Many parts, such as tops, bottoms, backs and shelves are more efficiently cut on a saw. Nesting is not ideal for closet parts requiring through drilling, because it's hard to obtain clean looking holes on either side of a melamine board.
The much larger nesting issue is the question of what software will allow data to flow from a design into the machine. From all my dealings with the software issue, I have yet to find the Holy Grail. This would be a sales and design software solution accommodating all the customization required by discerning clients while putting out nesting data and other machine information. The key is that point-of-sales software is acceptable only when operated by sales and design staff members.
The alternative of using, for example, AutoCAD for data, while very simple and direct for that purpose, is not user-friendly or practical for point-of-sales situations. Unfortunately, I have yet to see point-of-sales software that satisfies all custom aspects while spontaneously creating machine data. Invariably the software satisfies only part of the design, thus putting in question the high cost of such a solution.
The split solution
A solution may be to split the sales requirement from the manufacturing needs at a far lower cost. On the front end, a design and pricing tool will satisfy the needs of a professional presentation as well as making the offer to the customer. AutoCAD can then be used to generate dxf files for a CNC router. This approach puts the requirements and skill set where it needs to be.
To be sure, it is not the Holy Grail, but it will satisfy the needs of a small shop at much lower costs in software and hidden complexity.
The investment in software in comparing both approaches is in the order of 10 to 1 between what is often proclaimed to be the ultimate solution and this more simple approach. It will also ensure that every part of your custom designs can be reduced to components rendering machine data.
Taking the very step from using a saw and simple drilling machines to nesting is daunting in terms of lessons to be learned regarding cutting tools and machining requirements. It would be unwise to further burden yourself with a sophisticated chain of software while at the same time moving product out the door.
Once all is said and done, however, nesting is a beautiful thing, and I highly recommend it.
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